From take-out pizza to Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve traditions abound

Published 11:04 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

Whether it’s the anticipation of Santa’s arrival, a shared meal with family and friends or a time spent reflecting on the true meaning of the season, Christmas Eve traditions can be as diverse as the people who share in the customs.

At The Vicksburg Post, we thought it would be interesting to reach out to the community for feedback on how they celebrate Christmas Eve and here are some of the responses we received.

William Furlong 

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

“On Christmas Eve when I was a child, we were allowed to open one gift that was under the tree.”

Furlong said there were times he would study the gifts with the hopes of finding the best one, while other times he would strategize as to which gift he would choose. This was done with hopes that if he picked a gift that had a corresponding gift – say a Nintendo game that would go with the Nintendo – he would be allowed to open a second gift. Furlong laughed after he was asked if he ever got to open two gifts. No — He had only been allowed to pick one, even if it were to have had a corresponding gift. Another approach Furlong said he used was the shaking method, since it would be a tell-all if there were Legos inside. “I loved Legos,” he said.

 

Lori Burke

“Every Christmas Eve we go to Crossway Church’s Christmas Eve service – one of my favorite services at the church,” she said. “Then we invite all the neighbors over for Christmas Eve fireworks. And sometimes it is a FIRE works show! My husband has been known to light up the yard.

This Christmas, Burke said the holiday will be extra special, since they will be having family visiting from England.

 

Jennifer Harper

“Our tradition for Christmas Eve is delivering gifts to family in town, going to the Christmas Eve church service and then going to El Sombrero for dinner and margaritas!”

 

Martha Whitaker

Whitaker recalled going to a Christmas Eve service with friends when she and her husband, Murray, were younger and living out of town. After the candlelight service the couple were also invited for dinner and Whitaker said, since everyone was dressed up in their finery, she just assumed the meal would be a formal affair, too. But to her surprise, pizza was served. Whitiker said it had made for such an easy and relaxing evening, she and her husband started the tradition with their own family and to this day order out pizza on Christmas Eve.

Amber Diaz

“We go to Mass that evening, come back home and have a beautiful Christmas dinner,” she said, which consists of a large selection of “fabulous” holiday appetizers. “My kids call it our annual Finger Food Feast. Then we change into matching Christmas pajamas, the kids play carols on the piano and we gather round and sing. We also Facetime family in Mexico.” Diaz said, adding, “Our big Christmas celebration is always Christmas Eve, rather than the actual day of because at Midnight we celebrate the arrival of Christmas and place Baby Jesus in the Nativity.”

Harley Caldwell

“When I was young, we had dinner with my father’s cousin and aunt who had a big party on Christmas Eve,” she said. “And Mrs. Levy who had Jewish and Christian grandchildren hosted a family open house every Christmas night at her home on Cherry Street. It was a wonderful party filled with generations of Vicksburgers.”

David Cox

“When I was a teen, I remember taking my grandmother, Katherine Congi, to midnight Mass at St. Paul Catholic Church. I was the only grandson willing to stay up late enough to take her,” he said. This year, Cox said he would also be making his late grandmother’s Italian recipe of spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas Eve dinner.

One More Thing from William Furlong

Christmas Eve is just a little more than a week away and many are making their lists and checking them twice with the aim of having a stress-free holiday. Furlong, who leads catering efforts at the Duff Green Mansion and teaches culinary arts at Hinds Community to College shared these recipes for those who may also need a quick and easy Christmas Eve dinner plan.

Beef Tenderloin

Ingredients

1 whole trimmed beef tenderloin

1, 4-ounce tube garlic paste, Garden Gourmet Brand

Kosher Salt

Coarse ground black pepper

Instructions

On a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, cover tenderloin in garlic paste, rubbing to distribute evenly. Generously season with salt and pepper. In an oven preheated to high broil, sear the beef for seven minutes on each side, turn oven off and leave in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for ten minutes before slicing. Hint: Kroger and Corner Market will trim the tenderloin and grind the scraps.

 Hashbrown Casserole

Ingredients

1 stick salted butter

1 yellow onion, diced

16 ounces sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

30-ounce package frozen shredded hashbrowns

Salt

White pepper

Instructions

Sauté onion in butter until caramelized. In a large mixing bowl, combine sauteed onions, potatoes, sour cream, cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Put mixture in a casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot. Mixture can be made ahead to bake later.

 

Lemon Garlic Asparagus

Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

½ Lemon, zested and juiced

Salt

Pepper

Instructions

On a sheet pan, spread asparagus, toss with oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart