This is how we do it in Norway.

I have heard rumours that certain barbarian people in certain barbarian countries let their children run screaming and shouting out of bed, and tear open their presents early in the morning of Christmas Day. I am not one of them. In Protestant countries, people are of the opinion that Christmas presents should be opened in a calm and dignified setting -- which leaves Christmas Eve as the perfect choice. Besides, it is less rude to the children, who get to unwrap their presents more than 12 hours earlier than if we did it the Catholic way.

The foundation of the ceremony is laid already early in the afternoon, as each of the family members bring out the parcels they've hid all December, and put them under the Christmas tree. The ritual, however, doesn't begin until later, in the evening. The exact time is open for discussion in most families, except that one must never start before 17:00 (5 PM), which is regarded as the official beginning of Christmas.

The ceremony consists of two stages:

Note that it is considered slightly rude to be caught up in one's own newly opened presents when it's another one's turn to unwrap. One is supposed to have one's attention at whomever is opening his or her parcel at the moment. It is OK to sit and leaf through a book or assemble a small Lego kit, but under no circumstances should you get up from the chair and try out your new RC car before everyone is done!

Hehe...what a great node idea!

This is how we do it in the old abandoned Fort Detroit:

Sleep in late, late, LATE on Christmas Eve, 'cause you're gonna need it. Around about four or five o'clock, head on over to the InLaws for the party. There's mountains of food, and about thirty to fifty people crammed in a basement. Funnily enough, they're mostly Catholic; I dunno what that means to their Faith...Well, some are Southern Baptists, but I try not to think about that. Anyway, at least one basement corner will be filled, floor-to-ceiling, with presents. It's astounding. As the people troop in, the presents are divided into piles in front of each individual, and dinner begins, buffet style with much talking and bonding. During dinner, all presents have remained untouched, except for the "little things"--every guest or family brings a "small gift" for each of the children, which amounts to the kids getting TWO piles of presents; one before the unwrapping, and one after. Hey, it keeps 'em quiet. But eventually, somebody blows the whistle (usually literally, yes) and the whole ensemble goes apeshit, tearing, exlaiming, and moving on to the next one; the whole family unwrapping at once. It seemed rushed and unappreciative to me too at first, but I've since learned that the reason for this is to keep the party goin'--when you're done unwrapping, you still have to walk around and spend hours seeing what everybody else got.

Go home. CRASH.

Christmas morning is when MY family does presents. This is the sedated Christmas, which is more than welcome when you're still trying to kick the hangover from the night before. One present at a time, ooh and ahh, read the labels. As a result of this, opening the presents in my four-person family takes about four to five hours, compared to the ten to fifteen minutes in the big family; but this is how we compensate for getting less presents on that side. But it works out well, because it's dinner time (2 or 3 on Xmas) by the time we're done. Oh, and my family is Catholics too, except for me. I guess we're all desperately wrong...but we have fun. Man, I can't wait. Get me outta work and GIVE ME A PRESENT!!!

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