Christmas Eve Traditions

December 29, 2010

Following on in a somewhat backwards fashion from my Christmas Day post, here is a snapshot of how I spent Christmas Eve. Ben finished work a few hours early on Friday, which allowed us to head down to Red Hill and arrive at my parent’s house by the early evening. Buzzing with Christmas cheer, the Merry Fun began!


We were greeted with a
“>Red Rum Martini
, made with homegrown redcurrents.

I just love the enthusiastic, sour burst of these tiny little berries. The cocktail was really delicious. Not too strong (I often require a half strength or diluted version of Dad’s concoctions), with a hint of cherry flavour. Aesthetically stunning, it was an absolutely gorgeous, vibrant festive red. Cheers.

Historically, Christmas Eve in our household involved present wrapping whilst watching Carols by Candlelight on the television. However, recently we have adopted a new tradition. My mum and older brother once spent Christmas in France with some lovely French friends. Aside from an unwavering, full-blown love of anything French, this trip left mum with a lovely little Christmas Eve tradition, which we have embraced for the past few years. It involves fish and vodka. Perhaps a Scandinavian tradition, mum is not 100% sure and neither am I, we have taken it as our own and put a personal spin on it.

I love learning about other cultures and their traditions. I happily lost myself reading what different cultures eat over the festive period – from Lithuanian Kūčiukai to French Bûche de Noël, from Bulgarian/Romanian Cozonac to Scandinavian Glögg, and from Venezuelan Hallaca to Portuguese Bolo Rei – it all excites me! (and leaves me very hungry.)


Before our main course of fish and vodka, we had a lovely seafood entrée. Fresh seafood at Christmas seems to be a popular Australian tradition, particularly if it is cooked on the barbeque – the old ‘put a shrimp on the barbie’ saying really rings true. For this dish, Dad grilled scallops on the barbeque and served them with a mango salsa.

The recipe link is here – we all decided it could do with some corainder (which we added liberally) and extra fresh green chilli. It was a light and summery dish.


The weather on Christmas Eve was gorgeous, as the sun glowed with festive cheer. The clouds danced in the sky, putting on a stunning show. We had never seen a sky like this before, with the clouds stretched out in a stunning display.

Enjoying the cloud display lead to my Dad revealing he is a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Based in Britain, you sign up online, pay a few pounds, and are privy to pictures of clouds. There is also a forum for discussions about particularly stimulating clouds. I found this rather hilarious. Dad is always astounding me with his nerd qualities. He signed Jackson up a few years ago too. This lead to me questioning dad as to why I was not a member. Apparently my membership is now on it’s way. I look forward to becoming a member.


We cooked salmon steaks on the barbeque. They were simply grilled with not a lot of fuss, and were super fresh. Hence they were really delicious.

Mum made a beautiful cabbage salad to go with the salmon. She requested the recipe following a visit to Mr Wolf in St Kilda. It is made of cabbage, peas, parmesan, chilli and fresh mint. Ben and I really loved this and will definitely make it ourselves. It was creamy, light and fresh.

We also had a garden salad, with a little festive addition of redcurrents. It tasted very fresh and, well, festive.

We served the salmon with the salads and roasted kipfler potatoes. I adore roasted potatoes, and no one makes them like my mum. Although I am open to taste testing others, in the interest of being a well-informed foodie 😉

We begin our meal with a shot of vodka.


And then we finished our meal with some of my dad’s homemade sorbet.

Dad got an ice-cream maker for Christmas, a real fancy one. We have been enjoying his ice-cream for over a month. I am not quite sure how he wrangled opening his Christmas present so early, but whatever the reason I am thankful for this pink grapefruit and champagne sorbet (David Lebovitz’s recipe, so it is no surprise that it is fabulous).

And thus concluded our Christmas Eve festivities. Lots of fish, a little vodka, some last minute wrapping of presents and then we were off to bed. I quite like this tradition…

How do you spend Christmas Eve?

Heidi xo

* Note: the quality of the shots diminished as the evening progressed. This was due to the sun retreating, and not the vodka. I do not lie.

  • msihua December 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Liar! Hahahaha…. but the pictures still look beautiful! And you had a 'smashing' good time it seems!! Yayy!!

  • Mez December 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    The Red Rum Martini looks sublime! So does the Salmon, I LOVE Salmon. It sounds like your new traditions have made themselves quite at home with your family. Gorgeous post lady!

  • Heidi December 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Msihua – haha, no point arguing that one but I'm sticking to my guns, you hear? 🙂 It was a lovely night!

    Mez – thank you 🙂 I am a recent Salmon lover, myself. & the martini was really lovely. My first martini too, and I am keen to try a regular kind. One with olives (perhaps that is a dirty one? I'm not too sure).

    Heidi xo

  • Hannah December 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Our Christmas Eve tradition is to go out to a nice restaurant. Is it bad that I really wish I'd had your eats that night instead, particularly as the tuna I had this Christmas Eve was horrible overcooked? And that bright red cocktail just looks so wonderful!

  • Laura Preston December 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    wow gorgeous scallops, I'd love to try some right now. any tips for mango salsa?

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    What a lovely looking Christmas and that martini with the redcurrant looks so festive! 🙂 We didn't do all that much for Christmas Eve and we went to my parent's house for dinner but Christmas Day was our big day 🙂

  • Heidi December 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hannah – well the salmon was very delicious 🙂 overcooked is the worst! Such a shame when you go out for a nice meal.

    Laura – the recipe link I gave is a pretty good guide. If your mango isn't super sweet then maybe a little palm sugar. But I think the key is lovely fresh coriander & chilli. These plus a juicy mango really do all the work 🙂

    Lorraine – low key before a big day is a nice thing, I feel. Nothing worse than being over tired on Christmas day!

    Heidi xo

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    oh what a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve indeed!!!

  • Michelle Chin December 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I never had redcurrants before! And Lebovitz's recipes always work. I once used his panna cotta base before. 😀

  • laurak December 29, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    This all looks wonderful, what a lovely family you have Heidi.
    I especially love that your dad (and brother) are members of the Cloud Appreciation Society! Who knew there was such a group, that's fantastic! And glad you're soon to become a member too.
    Laura 🙂

  • Anna Johnston December 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Heidi…., your Christmas Eve sounded fabulous…, not sure what I liked best…. was it the BBQ'd fish, or the vodka shots.., maybe it was the cloud society…never heard of it, but its pretty dam cool in an extremely nerdy way… pretty dam jealous about your Dad's ice cream maker too… I have drooled over David Lebovits recipes. So, all up….. your Xmas eve was way better than mine…., we sorta sipped & cooked & picked etc etc 😉

  • The InTolerant Chef December 30, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Your red currants look lovely. We usually spend Christmas Eve driving around the suburbs checking out the Christmas light displays. Then we get home and get Santas snacks ready and carrots and oats for the reindeer, and check our Santa on Norad to see where he's up to.

  • Leah December 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

    What a lovely tradition Heidi! Love the fish and vodka for christmas eve. 🙂

  • Heidi December 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Lisa – it was lovely 🙂

    Michelle – redcurrents are delicious! Quite sour though. Nice paired with something sweet or creamy. & yes, I just love David Lebovitz's recipes!

    Laura – haha, thanks for the cloud appreciation society recognition 🙂 So funny.

    Anna – thanks! It is nice to sip and cook too. It is all fun 🙂

    InTolerant Chef – your Christmas Eve sounds lovely! When we were young we used to leave carrots for the reindeer also, as well as cookies for Santa. Such a magical time 🙂

    Leah – thank you 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Kath December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Yay nerdism! Your clouds story is great!

    In Germany, we're drowned in snow right now … so no thought of BBQ! Instead, very traditional (German, in my case) eats: red cabbage cooked with cloves and an apple, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and a lovely potroast (from venison – although goose would be more traditional, but I'm happy we went a little off the traditional ways here because I really don't like goose). I hope you had a wonderful time! (Redcurrants – yum!)

  • snackgirlgoeshealthy December 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    For christmas eve we always have a nice prime rib dinner with asparagus, california potatos and salad!
    then we open our presents ( "Shock!")
    Well, most of them anyways. Then in the morning we open up our stocking and maybe another gift if we save one.
    Then we load up and head to my grandparents!We've done it ever since I was little!

  • Heidi December 30, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Kath – haha, thanks for the nerdism support 🙂 Are you in Germany now?! That is wonderful! your cabbage sounds so delicious. I have never actually tried goose, or venison. I need to expand my meat horizons. Have fun in Germany with family!

    snackgirlgoeshealthy – My friends with European background open presents on Christmas Eve too. Your Christmas Eve sounds delicious and fun!

    Heidi xo

  • Ashley December 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Oooh, that sorbet just sounds delightful! 🙂 It looks like you had such a lovely christmas eve, I tend to find them more enjoyable than the day sometimes as you know you can relax and look forward to having a day off the next day! 😉

    The scallops look quite good!

  • KittyCate December 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    What a lovely way to spend Christmas eve, with good food and family. The redcurrent martinis looks just delicious! xx

  • Jacqueline December 31, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Here in Brazil Christmas eve is a BIG thing!We call it "Ceia de Natal" that's when we eat all the traditional food, have fun with the family and yeap open presents!:)
    This year for Christmas dinner we had pork, turkey, apple puree, rice and lots of salads.
    For dessert I made Angel's foot (a passionfruit and coconut pudding) and also vanilla ice cream
    Then on Christmas day we go to my grandma's and have a nice brunch!

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 31, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Mmm I adore scallops and love your fresh preparation. The currants look gorgeous as well. Wish I knew where to find them in DC. Happy New Year, Heidi!

  • Chanelle December 31, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Look so yummy! I spent Christmas Eve in the US, hoping for snow…it never came 🙁

  • Agnes January 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I love the idea of the Cloud Appreciation Society! Must be the dag in me 🙂