When I got to see a sneak preview of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure a few months ago, I couldn’t wait to see the whole thing! I got a chance to hear from the directors and they talked about how much fun it was to make this new animated short and dive in to holiday traditions. To celebrate the release of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure to a wider audience (instead of just before the movie, Coco), the Disney Home Entertainment Team sent me #OlafsHolidayBox, a sampler of festive holiday traditions. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is a 21-minute featurette that focuses on a holiday celebration that Anna and Elsa host for all of Arendelle. When the towns people leave the party early to celebrate their own traditions, Anna and Elsa realize that they don’t have any family traditions of their own. Olaf makes it his mission to help his friends by exploring the kingdom and bringing back the best traditions for them to adopt. I thought it would be fun to share some of the traditions that Olaf found mixed with the ways my family celebrates the holidays too.
Pictures with Santa || Every year we take a photo with Santa. It’s so fun to see how much the boys have grown throughout the year and also to see what the weather was like. I always get a kick out of it when people are surprised when we have a warm Christmas. Judging by our photos, we very rarely have a cold one here in California. In fact, I remember sweating in line last year with the sun blazing down on us as we waited for our turn to tell the big guy what we wanted.
Candy Canes || Just this year I found out that my husband doesn’t eat anything peppermint flavored! But the boys and I love it! We always have candy canes hanging around the house. They are fun to add to hot chocolate or just eat while doing homework. It’s such an easy way to make it feel like the holidays even when you live in a warm climate.
Candy Canes originated in Germany about 250 years ago but were not bent like we know them today. The story goes that a choirmaster was worried about the kids being able to sit through a long service so he gave them something to eat and shaped it like a “J” to resemble a shepherd’s crook. It was sometime around 1900 that the red stripes and peppermint flavoring were added. I’m just happy to know that I’m not the only one to bribe my kids to do things using food. Fruitcake || Growing up, my neighbor used to bring us a homemade fruitcake every year. And I think they get a bad rap. I think they are (mostly) delicious. I’ve never tried to make one but that doesn’t stop us from, checking out all the candied fruit at the grocery store. We’re partial to the green cherries. The American tradition of fruitcake actually stemmed from the British but dates all the way back to Roman times when it was made to sustain crusaders and hunters over long periods away from home. Fruit cake can age 25 years and still be eaten, as long as it contains the proper perservatives and is stored in an air tight container. Can someone tell me why we don’t regularly include fruitcake in our emergency kits?
Panettone || Panettone is an Italian tradition that is a bit like a fruit cake, but totally different. The cake is super light and fluffy but still contains dried fruits and nuts. My mother-in-law knows I love it and gets one for me as soon as she sees them in stores. It truly signals the start of the holidays for me. I’m really the only person in my family that eats it, which is great. If they knew how good they are I’d have to share!
Lefse || Lefse is a flatbread and Norwegian tradition that is made from a potato-based dough. Stories date it back to the Vikings, maybe when the Norse god, Odin, first had it served to the souls of the slain warriors who occupy Valhalla as a way to fortify them for their final battle…(insert shrugging girl emoji here). Today, lefse is a holiday treat used like a tortilla to wrap up your favorite ingredients. I really want this to be a dessert item though so I think I’m going to try it out with a little butter, cinnamon and sugar.
The boys have cookie traditions with both sets of grandparents which I am grateful for because they make the hard recipes which leave easy ones, like chocolate chip cookies, to me.
Gingerbread Cookies || Each year, the boys spend a night, about a week before Christmas, with their Grandma Marilyn and decorate gingerbread cookies. They love to spend time with her and get to be creative with their sprinkles and icing. That is also the same night that I get to organize Christmas and get all their presents wrapped. It’s a night we all look forward to.
The first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC and migrated to China and the Middle East during the 11th century Crusades. While each country has their own version of the recipe, it found its way to Britain where Queen Elisabeth I is credited with decorating the very first gingerbread men. Gingerbread houses originated in Germany but they weren’t decorated until after the publishing of Hansel and Gretel by the Grimm Brothers. German settlers are said to have brought the tradition to America. We don’t make gingerbread houses every year. Instead we usually make Candy Bar Trains as they require much less engineering.
Santa Face Cookies || My husband’s side of the family makes Santa Face cookies every year. These cookies are a labor of love and use a cookie mold instead of a traditional cookie cutter. It creates a detailed face that must be decorated per my father-in-law’s directions. It is an elaborate process that is both fun (they look AMAZING when they are done!) and frustrating (it’s very hard for little kids and people with little artistic talent to decorate these to the level that they must be decorated) but a tradition that we look forward to every year. It is a tradition my father-in-law had as a child and it’s so cool to continue that on with our own kids.
The Hell Yes, Please Ornament || This is the funniest holiday tradition we have. It was totally unintentional and sometimes those are the ones you look forward to the most. I forget about it every year but the kids sure don’t. We like to support our friends, especially when they create art. I bought this ornament that my husband’s friend created to give to my husband as a gift one year. My kids are not allowed to say adult words but every year, when we decorate the tree and this ornament comes out, they remind me that it is the one time of year they get to say the h word. Both boys take a turn saying it, then they hang the ornament on the tree and move on with life. It cracks me up. It’s doubtful that this one will be passed down generation to generation, but you never know!
Yule Bells || The bells tradition came from a Pagan ritual where the bells were used to drive away evil spirits and lighting candles was used to drive away the forces of the cold and dark. In the Christian faith, bells have been associated with Christmas for a very long time and are often rung to signal the start of religious services.
There are two games we love to play every year during the holidays!
The Christmas Game || This is a board game that I’ve had since the 80’s and used to play with my sister. I stole it from my mom and now my family plays it every year. It’s basically a Christmas themed Monopoly and it’s easy and fun for the whole family. We got a late start with our holiday celebrating this year and this may have to stay out a little while past Christmas.
The Dreidel Game || The kids learned about dreidels during their holiday lessons at school. I thought it would be fun to play as a family so we bought our own set of dreidels even though we aren’t Jewish we play this every year. We usually play with candy and it’s great to take with you if you are traveling somewhere over the holiday break.
Dreidel is a Yiddish word that means “little spinner.” It has four Hebrew letters on it: nun, gimmel, hey and shin which stand for the Hebrew phrase “A great miracle happened there.” Tradition holds that a 19th Century rabbi said that Jews played with dreidels in order to fool the Greeks if they were caught studying the Torah which had been outlawed.
And, of course, we watch a ton of holiday movies during the Christmas season. Starting today, December 19th 2017, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is available for digital download and viewing right in your own home! Movies Anywhere makes it super easy to view your favorite digital movies all in one place with no monthly fee. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is rated G and perfect for the whole family to watch together! And if you watch via Movies Anywhere, you’ll be able to add other classic Disney shorts to your holiday collection. Once you are done watching Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, play a game of dreidel together! Just refer back to this picture if you need help remembering what to do!
What are the holiday traditions that your family loves?
Thank you to Disney Home Entertainment and Team Click for this fun look at holiday traditions inspired by Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and for the complimentary screening of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure via Movies Anywhere.
You may also love these posts: