From tree hunting until you find the perfect tree, to homemade advent calendars, to even the magic pickle, Riverside is full of holiday traditions celebrated by teachers and students alike according to their cultural backgrounds.

A classic Norwegian Julekake

Mr. Richard Rothenberger celebrates a German tradition called Feuerzangenbowle. This takes place on Christmas Eve every year with the entire Rothenberger family of 43 people. The German drink is a take on the classic English version of the drink called Mulled Wine. To make the Feuerzangenbowle, wine is poured into a large glass bowl which is usually passed on from generation to generation. In with the wine, cinnamon sticks, lemon and orange slices are added for flavor. The wine is heated with a flame under the bowl. A sugar cone is then drenched in rum and placed on a small metal bridge that lies over the bowl. The cone is then lit on fire and left to drip the sugar into the bowl. The process is pretty as it is tasty.

Riverside counsellor, Ms. Kasey Chittenden, has her own holiday tradition all the way from Norway. She and her family eat Julekake on Christmas morning. Julekake is a Norwegian bread with candied fruit in it. The bread takes almost three and a half hours to make and many mothers in Norway make multiple loaves. The Julekake is similar to the Western Christmas cake.

Grade 12 student Nathan Petruta celebrates a Romanian tradition called Pomana Porcului, which translates to ‘Pig Fest’. His whole family gets together to eat Romanian dishes. This event takes place in early December but he and his family still enjoy a regular Christmas together, opening presents and having a Christmas dinner. The entire pig is used in this event, with food being made from every part, including the organs. Liver pate and sorici, a pork rind boiled in garlic are put out on the table to eat with other things to eat, such as specially made sausages and enough dessert to feed a village. The tradition has changed since he moved to Canada in 2015 with the entire pig not being available to him and his family. They’ve adapted the tradition though with them now finding a butcher to give them different parts of the pig.

Stir up pudding with the customary holly garnish.

Mr. Gary Horton celebrates a tradition called the The Stir Up. ‘Stir up Sunday’ dates back to the English Victorian times. It is celebrated five weeks before Christmas. The pudding usually contains 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. The pudding is stirred while making a wish from every family member. “When they would make it, they would steam it forever!” said Mr. Horton. The pudding is steamed for three hours then left to cool. The pudding is garnished with holly to represent the crown of thrones on Jesus and doused in liquor, similar to Rothenberger’s Feuerzangenbowle. They light it on fire and his father would sing happy birthday to Jesus. Adding coins or charms into the cake is considered  good luck if you find the piece in your cake on Christmas Day. “As a child it would taste yuck and the coins were the only way we would eat it.” After the cake is eaten his family listens to Dylan Thomas’ poem A Children’s Christmas in Wales, which he still listens to today.

Christmas isn’t the only time in December that is surrounded by traditions. Winter fun is too. Grade 10 student Walwala Tata, has her own winter tradition she celebrates with her family. When it snows, her family gets in the car and goes to her grandpa’s house in Maple Ridge. On her grandpa’s farm, there is a large hill where her entire family and surrounding neighbors go sledding down the hill. Once the sledding is over, they all head inside to drink hot chocolate and have a big dinner together. Grade 11 student Sara Khojas’ family does things a little differently. All presents are opened on Christmas Eve with her whole family. After a few years her family decided that Christmas day felt as if it needed something so, the family started building a pillow fort in the living room that they all sit in together and watch holiday movies.