by Ashley Lodato

You've been thinking about it for months, preparing for it for weeks, and fully in the thick of it for days. And now finally you can put your feet up, look around, and revel in the experiences you've worked so hard to create: holiday gatherings with friends and family. Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukah, Rohatsu, Solstice, or Epiphany, the dark days of December are a time of bright cheer, quiet reflection, and cherished traditions. 

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Family traditions surrounding the holidays vary widely, each of them infused with special meaning to the individuals practicing them. For Bronwen Jewelry founder Bronwen Lodato and her family, the winter spiral is a holiday tradition staple. The family builds a spiraling evergreen-lined path through the snow that leads to three lit candles in the middle. Family members take turns walking along the dark path in silence, carrying unlit candles. As they walk the winding path, they reflect on the 12 months past and the year ahead. In the center, they light the candle they're carrying from one of the center candles and then leave this candle somewhere along the path on their return to the spiral's entrance. Once everyone has made a trip through the spiral--and some years there are as many as 20 people participating--the spiral is illuminated by the light of the many candles places amongst the evergreen boughs. 

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The winter spiral--or advent spiral--is typically a solstice tradition, but Bronwen's family practices it at Christmas because that's when they're all gathered. It's an opportunity to share some of the dark moments of the past year and to look forward to the light that all hope will come with the new year. The winter spiral is a celebration of the dawn of a new day and the light each person hopes to shine into the world. 

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Other families celebrate with caroling parties, midnight mass on Christmas Eve, watching the Nutcracker, volunteering at soup kitchens, and sledding or skiing on Christmas Day. Some open gifts on Christmas Eve; others wait until morning. Another Lodato tradition is the eating of the king cake, which they call the baby cake. Although the baby cake is a Mardis Gras tradition, it has been incorporated into the Lodato Christmas celebration and is widely anticipated by the family's grandchildren, all of whom fervently hope that they will be the one to discover the tiny baby doll baked into his or her piece of cake. The finder of the cake is allegedly blessed with good luck and prosperity in the year to come, but even those without a baby in their slices get to enjoy the fragrant spicy cake. 

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At Bronwen Jewelry, we know that your holiday traditions are as beloved to you as ours are to us. That's why we are inviting you to enter our photo contest, sharing your photos of yourself, your friends, or your family members celebrating, adventuring, and generally enjoying the company of loved ones. Just post a picture of one or more of you wearing your Bronwen Jewelrytag us on Instagram, and add #bronwenjewelryphotocontest. We'll select someone to win a $100 gift card to use online on our website. The winner will be contacted through Instagram the week of January 8th. 

From all of us at Bronwen Jewelryhappy holidays. We look forward to seeing what holiday traditions look like in your family.

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