(WOWK) – Christmas traditions are different in every household. Some of the most common ones are decorating your Christmas tree, watching your favorite Christmas movie with your family, and leaving out milk and cookies for Santa. But there are many others that you may have never heard of.
1.) Kindness Elves Spreading Kindness all December Long
Kindness Elves are a fun alternative to “Elf on a shelf” and focus on doing kind things for someone every day, leading up to Christmas day.
The idea behind Kindness Elves is to perpetuate the idea of kindness during the holidays and all year long as well as act as a portal for sharing all these inspiring ideas and stories.
2.) Feast of the Seven Fishes
The Feast of the Seven Fishes has roots in Southern Italy, where Roman Catholics abstained from meat on Fridays and holidays. The tradition lives on in the Garden State’s Italian-American families. For their Christmas Eve meal, they might pick up shrimp, flounder, sea bass, and calamari. But getting to seven fishes often means incorporating more unfamiliar finds from under the sea, like grilled eel or octopus.
3.) The “Putz”
The standard nativity scene gets a twist in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The Moravian sect’s tradition of the “putz” (from the German word, “putzen,” meaning to decorate or adorn) enlivens the standard crèche. In a putz, the figure of Sir Galahad searching for the Holy Grail may join the Holy Family and Wise Men, or the background may be made of live plants and running water. Somewhat fittingly, the town of Bethlehem organizes a Putz trail.
4.) Shrimp and Grits and Gumbo
Standard Christmas main courses like turkey have little Southern flare, so Mississippi families—especially along the Gulf Coast—opt for tender local shrimp and spicy sausage served over grits. The food may be more every day than a holiday, but it’s certainly comforting. Cajun Mississippi families simmer a big pot of gumbo with chicken, sausage, and seafood for their holiday gatherings. Just don’t forget to pass the Pimiento cheese dip.
5.) Pickle on the Christmas Tree
The tradition of the Christmas Pickle has got to be one of the strangest modern Christmas customs, in that no one is quite sure why it exists at all.
In the 1880s Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany and some were in the shape of various fruit and vegetables. It seems that pickles must have been among the selection!
Around the same time, it was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was a very old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present.
However, the claim that it’s an old German tradition seems to be a total myth! Not many people in Germany have even heard of the Christmas Pickle!
6.) “Festivus” for the rest of us!
Festivus is a secular holiday, normally celebrated on December 23rd. It is mainly meant as an alternative to the pressures and commercializtion of the Christmas season. However, it has also become a day to celebrate the ever-lasting comedy of the 1990s television show Seinfeld.
Festivus was a holiday featured in the Season 9 Seinfeld episode “The Strike”, which first aired on December 18, 1997. Since then, many people have been inspired by this zany, offbeat Seinfeld holiday and now celebrate Festivus as any other holiday.
7.) West Virginia’s Winter Festival of Lights
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights, which first started in 1985, is one of the biggest light shows in the country. It spans 300 acres and has over 89 lit up attractions — from a rainbow tunnel to Peanuts characters — made with over one million lights.
Identified as one of the top light displays in the United States by countless travel companies and national publications, the Winter Festival of Lights features three hundred acres of twinkling lights over a six-mile drive. The dazzling display includes 90 lighted attractions boasting more than one million energy-efficient LED lights. Now, guests can experience this time-honored tradition in a whole new way with 3D ‘Sleigh Bans’ which transform every point of light into a magical display
The largest gathering of Santa’s elves—1,762—was in Bangkok in 2014. Not to be outdone, Mobile, Alabama, has taken a run at this Guinness Book of World Records mark every year since. Although the record has remained elusive, that doesn’t stop more than a thousand elves from gathering for Elfapalooza each December in the city’s historic city park, Bienville Square, for the official count, followed by the city’s Artwalk.
Insiders tip: In the Bangkok record attempt, 14 participants were disqualified for not being elf-y enough. Don’t let that happen to you! Official rules state the costumes must have pointy ears and a hat of any material with seasonal red and green!
9.) St. Nicholas Tradition
People leave out a shoe or boot in the hallway on the evening of December 5th for St. Nick’s arrival on December 6th. This is similar to the idea of doing stockings, though they do that as well on Christmas Day. In the boots, kids usually find:
Coins: Each child receives some quarters in their shoe to signify the money St. Nicholas gave.
Healthy Treats: Healthy treats like dark chocolate, small bags of nuts, or homemade marshmallows.
Oranges: These signify the gold St. Nick gave away and our kids love oranges this time of year (which we don’t usually get because they aren’t in season) The most important lesson from the legend of St. Nicholas is his generosity. To help us all remember this, people make a point to do random acts of kindness this time of year. Many people celebrate this by:
- Drop off grocery store gift cards to families in need.
- Give a big box of wrapped gifts and clothes to families who need them.
- Anonymously pay the utility bills of someone in need.
- Wrap gifts or donate items to local foster programs.
10.) Night Before Christmas Box
The Night Before Christmas Box is a special gift to celebrate one of the most exciting nights of the year, Christmas Eve!
Night Before Christmas Box for all the kids to open up at once, or one for each child. The box can have new Christmas pajamas to wear to bed, a Santa hat, socks or slippers, a Christmas book to read before bedtime, hot chocolate and some sort of note.
11.) Corned Beef and Cabbage for New Year’s
Corned beef and cabbage on New Year’s are associated with the fortune you should hope for in the coming year. Beef or pork is the meat of choice because unlike chickens these animals do not scratch in the dirt for their food. It’s said that if you eat chicken on New Year’s Day you are setting your destiny for the coming year to scratch in the dirt for your survival, Cabbage is light green, like paper money. And who couldn’t use more of that?