Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas In The Hill Country

It’s another Christmas morning in the Texas Hill Country. Given the diverse blend of cultures in the area, people will be celebrating the day with different traditions, and eating different foods.

For many in Texas, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of tamales. The process of making homemade tamales is extremely time consuming, and is often done on Christmas Eve itself during an event called a tamalada. The making and eating of tamales during the holiday season, is handed down from Mexican tradition, and is now part of the rich heritage of Texas.

For the early German pioneers in the hill country, life was difficult, especially so during the winter months. Nevertheless, Weihnachten, or Christmas, was joyously celebrated. Baking, an important part of the season's traditions in the household, produced cakes, cookies, and Christmas bread. On Christmas Eve, a cedar tree, so common both then and now in the hill country, was chopped down, brought home, and decorated. The Christmas meal most often included a variety of sausages.

In Austin, the holiday season brings the usual contingent of revelers into 6th Street bars and clubs. But a few blocks away, at the Texas State Capital, the legislature honors Christmas in its own way.

In the chamber where the Texas House of Representatives meet, stands the Lone Star Celebration Christmas Tree. Decorated with ornaments unique to various areas around the state, the 20 foot pine tree adds a festive and peaceful atmosphere to a room where Texas laws are often contentiously debated.

Historically, Christmas has been celebrated in the hill country by people of different cultures who often spoke different languages. Despite the different traditions practiced, however, the meaning and importance of Christmas remained the same for all the faithful. And, the same holds true today.

On this special day, I wish each of you a safe and peaceful Christmas.

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