Some of our favorite holiday traditions

(Kelsey is the Adult Community Events Liaison at the Main Library.)

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Sometimes while we’re in the midst of the chaos, we forget why we put ourselves through it all. At the end of the day, one of the main objectives of the holiday turmoil is to spend time with loved ones. Several members of our Library staff celebrate in ways that are fun and unique to their cultures and families.

The food can be a bit repetitive this time of year. Samantha Walker, Circulation Manager, has tacos with her family each year for Christmas Day for this very reason. Dottie Oestreich, Administrative Assistant, has a popular tradition she has brought with her from Texas. Her family makes tamales and other types of Mexican food on Christmas Eve. Dottie says “There are a couple of ideologies about how this tradition has come to be: one is that the wrapped tamale symbolizes the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothing. The second is that many families get together well before Christmas to prepare the tamales. This is almost a holiday in itself, because of the family time.”

Holiday traditions are special because they passed down through the generations and are introduced to new members as families expand. Hillary Delaney, Local History Associate, enjoys a Lithuanian dumpling at Christmas. Her mother-in-law has a family recipe handed down from her mother, who emigrated from Lithuania, that all the children and grandchildren learn how to make. They all make this dish together on Christmas. My husband’s family is Bulgarian and follow several of the traditional Bulgarian food customs for Christmas Eve dinner. The entire meal is vegetarian and only an odd number of dishes is allowed on the table. I brought a dessert the first year and it had to stay on the counter. Similar to king cake at Mardi Gras, there is a bread called koledna pitka (Christmas bread) that has coin hidden in it. Whoever finds the coin has good luck for the next year. The meal stays out overnight for the angels to feast upon.

Some of the most fun traditions are very unique to individual families. Sharon Franklin, Walton Branch Manager, annually has a dish they named Miriam’s Wedding Jello, Sharon’s best friend, Miriam, got married in 1970. As she tells it, “at the rehearsal dinner a fabulous, unfamiliar dessert was served.” Her mother and another lady tried numerous times to recreate it, were eventually successful, and continue to create the dessert each Christmas. Circulation Assistant Kimberly Johnson’s children receive pajamas on Christmas Eve from Santa’s elves, a tradition 16 years strong beginning with her oldest child. They spend much of the evening running back to their rooms to see if the pajamas have arrived, so the elves have to be sneaky!

The ultimate goal of most holiday activities is to have fun and spend quality time with the people you love. Our staff definitely know how to celebrate the season. We hope you have a wonderful time with all of your traditions, new and old!


Kelsey is the Adult Community Events Liaison at the Main Library. She loves the holiday season and all the different activities that go along with it. Kelsey enjoys seeing the Nutcracker each year, visiting Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights, and all the seasonal flavored treats and coffee.

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