Hope everyone is doing amazing this Christmas season. I know the holidays look a lot different for many people this year as we navigate all of the uncertainties 2020 has brought us. A major change for my family this year has been the limitations on travel – something I have loved to do. Travel for me has always been more than just the destination but getting to meet the people and experience new culture.
Since no one is travelling abroad this holiday season I thought it would be fun to explore some of the Christmas traditions from around the globe! I have been lucky enough to experience some of these traditions first hand – and others hear about them from members of their culture!
Christmas time looks a lot different for me in my adulthood vs my childhood. For those of you do not know I grew up in Australia. Christmas time often consisted of celebrations by the pool and boxing day barbecues – not exactly how my family now celebrates in Canada!
My husband is half Ukrainian and our family has adopted a few special traditions from this culture. In Christmas’ past when celebrating with my husband’s family we have done the traditional 12 Ukrainian dishes for Christmas eve. The 12 delicious dishes represent the 12 apostles and all have special meanings. The dishes are all meatless as it is tradition to fast on Christmas eve to remember the hardships mother Mary faced that evening en route to Bethlehem. Musically speaking, one of my favourite Christmas songs is actually Ukranian! Carol of the Bells, which is featured on my album Christmas Classics with Chantal Dube, is an adaptation of this song:
My family had a mix of different traditions from the British side, and the Scottish side and of course, and a little French and Dutch from the mix we are, and the Aussie in all of us! The night before Christmas we always had Buche de Noel, which as kids, we called the log cake, and my Dad would light angel chimes and we would sit and watch them…angel chimes are popular in Europe and my Dutch great grandmother handed this tradition down. My Dad often played the organ at the evening services at our Church, and we’d try to stay awake if we went, or we’d head to bed early with a tonne of excitement about Santa Claus’ impending visit…
On Christmas Day, we would always have roast turkey, but often a little Aussie additions like roast lamb, and on occasion some seafood, sitting my the pool! Christmas outside in Canada with potential negative temperatures is not really idea!! It does however, match the expectations we had as children of a white Christmas, which we only experienced in American movies.
We would always light the pudding on fire after we had all had too much and then, while opening gifts, the atheist side of the family would usually debate those celebrating the birth of Jesus and praying, and then we’d usually swim or go for a walk.
Here in Canada, our family has adopted some Canadian traditions as well- lots of ginger bread house making and cookie decorating, and loads of outdoor snow activities! We absolutely love cookie decorating, and making ginger bread houses, and last year we got to go to the world’s largest real ginger bread house at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto! I’m grateful that we have these memories.
We also LOVE the tradition of the advent calendar… we have one that we fill ourselves and the kids LOVE the countdown! My eldest is the only one who gets it so far – to my youngest ones I’m sure they just see it as a fancy chocolate box lol.
Matching Christmas PJs is an American tradition we have loved as well!
Working around the globe, I have seen and heard about many different Christmas traditions… tell me about yours?
What a year 2020 has been – I can’t believe December is already here! It has been a while since my last blog but my family has been keeping quite busy- and I would love to give you an inside look.
My family made the move west from Calgary to beautiful Kelowna in September of this year. The past few months have been filled with packing/unpacking, getting the kids settled in a new school and getting our bearings in our new city! All of the work aside we have still been able to make some memories and have some fun!
I celebrated my 40th birthday in early October! I had been planning my 40th birthday celebration for years to be filled with beaches, Luau’s and mai tais. Although I wasn’t able to go to Maui with friends and family like the original plan we made the best of it here in Kelowna. My family finally got to check out the Quails Gate Winery and Old Vines restaurant. We had a beautiful dinner – followed by walking through the picturesque vineyards. It was still a perfect birthday, I am always so grateful to spend time with my friends and family no matter where we are! 2020 has taught me a lot about going with the flow and being able to adapt – perhaps Maui for my 41st?
Although the uncertainty of this year has put a pause on most live performances for me, I have still been busy working! I have been working hard on a video which will be released December 1st to one of my all time favourite worship songs “Shout to the Lord”. The song features Juno Award nominee Mark Masri and I, together with pianist Delyle Polet. This song is so close to my heart and I cannot wait to share it with you – I hope you love it as much as I do!
Kelowna has some great venues that I am so excited to perform at in the future. Recently I had the chance to film a live show for my Patreon Members at the Kelowna Community Theatre. I’m definitely planning on doing this again soon! It’s strange to broadcast only, with no one physically in the audience, but I definitely don’t feel alone with you guys tuned in!
One of the things our kiddos miss most about Calgary are our family trips to Made by Marcus ice cream shop. We love spending little moments with our kids like this that have turned into some of our favourite family past times. Recently, we were lucky enough to stumble upon Parlour Ice Cream in downtown Kelowna. I have a feeling this will be our new go-to spot for our little family – very delicious! It was also great to go to Church in person again!
As Christmas approaches we are trying to make this year feel as normal as it can for our little ones. One of our favourite family traditions is going to a tree farm as a family to hand pick our Christmas Tree. What a beautiful morning we had at “Grumpy’s Tree Farm”. The tree farm looks like a set straight out of a hallmark movie set! If you are in the area and are in the market for a Christmas tree you should definitely check it out!
I truly hope that all of you are staying healthy and find yourself optimistic of a fresh year quickly approaching! Now that we are finally settling into our new home, I promise to be in touch again soon! A lot of exciting things are coming up for me and I cannot wait for you to be a part of it.
You guys! I am thrilled to announce a musical collaboration to support Kelowna Gospel Mission recorded in isolation with voice by The Juno Awards – nominee, Mark Masri and keys by Delyle Polet from Holy Trinity Church Calgary worship team! Shout to the Lord, written by Darlene Zschech, is one of my favourite worship songs that I have sung in church since I was a little girl.
Proceeds from this track will go to Kelowna Gospel Mission who feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and help the hurting. Download this track, share a picture or video that represents your faith hope and love with the hashtag #ShoutToTheLord to share your faith inspire others! We will be sharing the love here! Share the love and support if you can! Thanks for watching!
We’re back in Calgary, and I’m still dreaming of our beautiful days in Kelowna! Days by the water, building sand castles…. after lock down it was such a blessing.
So while I’m saving up the new album material for next month’s Patreon Show, I thought it a perfect opportunity to share with you one of my favourite pieces of music to play. I have performed this for my own family at a very special occasion, and many others as well. I hope you enjoy this Patreon exclusive video, shot by my own husband and edited by yours truly, no special hair or makeup, this is a first! Check out the preview below, and you can sign up to my Patreon Membership Page for fans for as little as $1 a month!
Huge thanks to the Quails Gate Winery for hosting us- side note- we also had two absolutely amazing meals at their world renowned restaurant, Old Vines, as well. It was pretty relaxing to know too, that there were no cases of Covid-19 in the Kelowna area where we were too, and everyone just seemed so relaxed! It was truly wonderful.
My little ones really are my biggest lesson and my biggest inspiration. Their innocence and random proclamations of love are just so beautiful.. even though as their mother, I guide them, and do my best to lead them, they teach me so much as well their little spirits often uplift mine, as much as I do for them in all the comfort and love that mothers provide.
This performance was just a perfect representation of the great moments, fit in amongst the chaos!
Firstly today, I want to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beautiful daughter Victoria. Three years ago today, people were asking why I wasn’t as vocal as I usually am on this important day, and my answer was that I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl! I can’t believe she is THREE TODAY! Time really does fly!
Next, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY! I’m proud to be a woman in today’s era. We have rights and privileges that didn’t exist for our mothers and grandmothers. Come to think of it, we didn’t have these same rights today as we did 20 years ago! But we’re not there yet. The purpose of International Women’s Day is to recognize the progress women have made towards gender equality in their communities and workplace, and to champion women’s achievements. It’s a cause that’s very dear to my heart. I, along with some fabulous women, created the Every Woman Foundation, which ran for a decade. We held our signature event, the Every Woman Festival, for seven years and, during that time, we held it in Canada, Australia, and France. In fact, the Every Woman Foundation was voted one of Canada’s top 100 women’s organizations. Although I had to make the very tough decision to put my family and my work first since becoming a mother, I’m proud of the work we achieved. Over ten years we celebrated women, supported women with our programs and raised money for partner organizations. Although I’m now focused on Motherhood, and Every Woman Foundation is currently no longer operating, it’s my hope that we will return in 2021/2022.
Here are some of the highlights from the last 10 years:
This year, I’m honoured to celebrate International Women’s Day with a performance at the Women & Wealth Gala in my hometown of Calgary. It’s a rare treat to perform in my own town, where I get to meet so many talented women, and this year’s Women & Wealth Gala has a pretty impressive line up! The emcee is award-winning journalist Aisling Tomei, and also appearing is award-winning entrepreneur Jess Tetu, fabulous TV host Jillian Harris! I’m excited to join this fabulous lineup.
The Women & Wealth Gala (@WomenandWealthGala) started in 2016 and continues to celebrate International Women’s Day annually.
I question the legacy I want to leave for my daughters. I want them to have the confidence to be who they are, love who they are, and be proud. After all, my daughter, Victoria, was born on International Women’s Day!
I love celebrations – and Valentine’s Day is one of my favourites! Love is the most beautiful thing in the world, and I get to celebrate this special day with my loves: my husband and my children. They’re simply my world. While we should say “I love you” to our someone special everyday, Valentine’s Day is the one day where we should appreciate the love in our lives. And, let’s agree, “What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork” – Pearl Bailey.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I performed John Legend’s All of Me, which is also our wedding song, at the @COREShopping Centre (Calgary). Head to my Instagram page – @sophieplaysviolin – and you’ll see my performance along with the candy and heart-themed display at the CORE Shopping Centre. The kids had a blast and my husband adored my rendition of our song
To help me dress for my performance, the fab team (thank you Estella, François, Joanly, and Lisa!) from Calgary’s Simons’ store at the CORE assembled a range of dresses to try from their current collections. The dresses were all so fabulous, but I narrowed it down to three: a short REDValentino cocktail dress, an eye-catching gold Luxxel floor-length gown, and an avant-garde design from Canadian designer Denis Gagnon. Simons has eight private labels and designer brands, and I fell in love with this store! Both my husband and I are wearing Simons clothing in this video!
This one was my absolute favourite, by Denis Gagnon:
I was so thrilled to discover Simons at the CORE. I wish I had discovered them sooner! It’s five levels of fabulous clothing, shoes, accessories, home décor, and everything you need for your bathroom, kitchen, and dining room. They even have their own in-store café, and they produce and sell their own honey (which is made on the roofs of the stores in Laval, Mississauga, and Quebec). It’s delish! One more Simons’ bragging right is their energy efficient store at the Londonderry Mall in Edmonton. Very impressive, make sure you check them out!