We in the convent have our little Christmas traditions, just the way families have theirs. Ours may be a little more hybrid than most, since (a) they have quite an interesting parentage and (b) institutes have really long memories. Lots of our Daughters of St. Paul Christmas traditions are Italian in origin. They stuck around not only because they were "institutionalized," but because for a good 40 years 50% or more of our community was made up of Italian sisters. So from the day I entered, I learned Italian Christmas carols ("Dormi, Dormi, bel bambin' " anyone? What about "Tu scende dalle stelle?" a "Ninna nanna" or two?) to be sung around the creche (presepio) after Midnight Mass (which, thankfully, was rarely at midnight). Then we had cookies or Sr. Antoinette's fruitcake and hot cocoa and went to see what little gifts "Baby Jesus" left under our pillows in the dorm. For Christmas dinner, we had a first course of ravioli or lasagne, and then a full meal after that. (Breakfast was pannetone, which seemed to be nothing but a course, crumbly, dry bread with candied fruits in it--and so I thought for years, until I finally tasted fresh pannetone, which is out of this world...but not as good as "pandoro".) And Christmas Vespers was always a service of carols. One tradition that was never an Italian Christmas tradition, but became ours is having polenta and sausage for Christmas Eve supper. It was a way our Italian sisters remembered that the Founder used to stir the polenta pot with a wooden spoon in one hand, while the other hand held a book--from which he was teaching a class at the same time!
This year in Chicago, we had polenta and sausage before the "Midnight" Mass (at 9:00), followed by pie and cocoa at home. Gifts were under the tree (convent gift-giving is often a "regifting" process!), and there was a fresh pannetone to be had for breakfast. No ravioli for dinner, though. (Heck, we even used to have a first course of ravioli in the convent for Thanksgiving!) And Carols for evening prayer. But so far, amazingly, none in Italian (save the two we sang at Mt. Carmel last night).
What about your traditions?