T’was the Traditions before Christmas

Juan Diego staff shares their favorite holiday traditions during the long wait to Christmas morning


Christmas time is a season of giving of both love and gifts to relatives and friends around the Christmas tree. And the expectation of a certain saint “hurrying down the chimney” to complete the Christmas attire lingers in children’s minds, but not before they share unique holiday traditions with their families. And at Juan Diego, teachers share their own family activities that lead up to Christmas morning. 


T’was the Eve before Christmas 


Christmas Eve is one of the most important times for families, where one gets to enjoy food and fun before the early alarm of ecstatic children on Christmas morning.


Mrs. Slick, a Campus Life Secretary member at Juan Diego, said that “one of my favorite things that we do is we always go to mass on Christmas Eve, usually the (one at) five o’clock.”


Slick added that when “we come home,… we always get new pajamas. So my kids open their new jammies, change into those, and they…open one gift on Christmas Eve. And then we have three different Nativity scenes, so they go and they all lay baby Jesus for Christmas Day.” 

The traditional cookie-and-milk preparation for St. Nicholas.


Ms. Suel, the junior counselor at Juan Diego, shares a similar experience, where she commented that “we’ve always opened one present on Christmas Eve and saved the rest for Christmas Day. We always (make) hot chocolate and cookies (and leave them) out for Santa before the kids (go) to bed.”





Mrs. Thompson, an English teacher at Juan Diego, added that, as “a tradition I think a lot of families have… we do pajamas and slippers and the whole thing. 


She further commented that “everybody changes into them and so I can take those super corny pictures that every mom loves to have.”


T’was the Unique Family Traditions 


Some faculty members at Juan Diego have traditions that are more exclusive to their own families. 


The Jane Austen Advent calendar with the character-themed gift bags for the 24 days before Christmas Day. Used with permission by Mrs. Thompson



Thompson said that her Christmas traditions “(start) at Thanksgiving. I give all of my kids an Advent calendar that is specifically for them. So a good example is my daughter loves literature and she’s an English major. So I have these Jane Austen character bags…and I fill them with something different for her to open each day.”





“We go to Mass (on) Christmas Eve, and then we go and get pizza and we bring some pizza home,” said Ancient Civilizations and AP World History teacher Mrs. Jacobs.


A Caga Tio (or yule log) display, a reference to Mrs. Jacobs’ family tradition.


Jacobs continued that her family then “has a very unique tradition of beating the Caga Tio. And the Caga Tio is… a Basque tradition where (a) yule log…“poops out presents”, and then we get little trinkets from the Caga Tio. 

Jacobs added that “my husband thought of it…we’ve probably done it for ten or fifteen years.” 



An example of the spritz cookies that Ms. Suel and her sister makes as their family tradition.




Ms. Suel commented that “we always make spritz cookies, and I usually make them with my sister, (where) there’s usually a lot of swearing going on because the machine always breaks and…we only do it once a year. It’s very delicious but it’s a cumbersome tradition.”


T’was Christmas Day 


It’s Christmas Day, and the gifts and family fun will soon come to a close.



 After the family fun that carried on during the 24th night of the twelfth month, it’s the time for some faculty members to reveal their plans on the one and only Christmas Day. 

Thompson said that “we do…family trip(s) now. So my husband does a PowerPoint presentation and we present it Christmas morning and (it) lets the kids know this is where we’re going, this is when we’re going, and that’s the big family gift for everybody.”



Ms. Thompson commented that “we stopped doing presents three or four years ago because all of my children are adults, and I thought all I’m doing is I’m totally just giving in to the consumerism that is part of our society right now, and I would much rather we have experiences than stuff in our lives.”


In the late hours before Christmas morning, Suel also added that she “then…always (has) to drink it before…the morning or throw it out, which is a good tradition.”


And so, the Newspaper Department wishes all of you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful time indulging in your family traditions, whether it be spending time with your family or swearing over a spritz cookie mixer.