Family Traditions


Well-known member
Oct 14, 2016
Markesan, WI
Post up your long lasting family traditions from this time of year.

The one I'm going to share to get this started is not going to be the same for our family this year.

Every December, my family makes sausage. Lots of sausage. Typically just under 500#

My grandpa was 100% polish and as long as I can remember, the second Saturday in December was a Christmas party at his house where the family got together to make polish sausage. Ground pork was bought as well as casings from the local butcher shop and my grandpa had his own special recipe already all premixed out so no one would ever know what all goes into it. The recipe was literally written down on a piece of paper and held in his safe (or so I've been told) just in case. At a time sometime before I was born, Italian sausage was also added to the mix. I never heard any grumbling from my grandpa about the Italian being made BUT if you ever mentioned making brats, watch out, he might kill you.

Due to his health and then the selling of their home, the party moved to his niece's place about 5 years ago. Everything was still the same, just a different atmosphere. We still were making about 300# of polish and about 150# of Italian each year. Each year there has been some joking about making brats since it was no longer in the "old Polak's" house and there is clearly a desire to make them from the attendees which includes a lot of family as well as many family friends. His niece's husband is also of heavy German heritage. One year as a joke, he made some brats the night before on his own and when the first batch of polish came out of the stuffer, it headed up to the kitchen to be cooked as normal with tradition and he snuck in a few brats and made sure my grandpa got a brat piece rather than polish. It was all good fun and given the deteriorating state of my grandpa last December, it was great to see him be able to laugh about it. He even joked "when I die, you are going to be making brats aren't you?"

My grandpa did pass away a few months ago - right before our trip to AK in September. I can't imagine what its going to be like making sausage this Saturday without him there. According to my mom, she remembers it starting as soon as they bought their house which would put the first year having this party in 1971. 52 years of keeping family tradition alive and bringing family and friends together to share some good cheer for the holidays. My grandpa was also a very charitable man and one thing that has never changed the entire time is that the cost of the sausage made included a "tax". There has always been an extra $5 (maybe it was less back in 1971, I'm not sure) included on every 10# of sausage you ordered and he took that money raised and gave it to the local food bank so they could buy meals for those in need.

Finally, yes we are making brats this year. The final order amount is 350# of polish, 175# of Italian and a whooping 375# of brats. If ghosts exist, I'm sure my grandpa will be there haunting the entire party and I fully expect broken stuffers, scales, dropped pans of brats, etc.
only tradition we have on my side of the family is christmas eve dinner is always a combo meal descending from volga deutsch and norwegian.

german brats with a noodle and dumpling soup and a side of lefse. my dads parents kept the tradition going and now my dad primarily keeps it alive, but my mom does usually make the dumplings i believe.

this year the german brats will be elk based.

i hated it as a kid but have grown to really enjoy the meal.

i've yet to really sniff out a tradition on my wifes side. with her dad being military and later national guard and a commercial pilot no two christmases were ever the same for them. i think the traditions run deeper back in wisconsin with my wifes extended family.
That's a great story. Think of how many people have been touched by that tradition and how many people who know how to make sausage who never would have learned.

I don'y have a tradition that was passed down to me, but my wife and I started one not long after we were married. It's been close to 20 years now.

My wife is 100% Polish and for the first couple years it was traveling to an auntie's house to learn how to make pierogi on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Some call it Black Friday, but we call it Pierogi Day.

After a couple years we decided to make pierogis with my mother in law and sister in law. And now we have our two daughters and two of our nieces involved. We make several dozen cheese, kraut and potato most of which we save for Christmas Eve dinner.

I look forward to eventually passing this tradition down to my grandkids.
Great story. A tradition of ours is getting together as a family and processing any moose that we have been blessed to harvest. We also enjoy making up our own sausage recipes. And I'm originally from WI so brats are made. I've bought sausage mixes from Louies in Cumberland several times. He makes up a great sweet Italian sausage mix too
Sounds like its going to be a GREAT Saturday for your entire family due to a tradition started by a wonderful grandpa that created incredible memories for generations to come.
Mmmmmm....gelatinous fish. :LOL: This old Swede can relate. Much prefer the Potatiskorv (potato Sausage) over the Ludefisk from my Dad's side of the family. Mom's side makes dozens and dozens of gingerbread cookies. Some decorated in a way that might be considered PG 13, thanks to the younger generations twist on an old favorite.
Stuffer is identical to the one we have that was my grandparents
That is still the original one from when this all started. As you maybe can tell, the otherside has a new fancy one but out of stubbornness and tradition, the other stays.

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