Winter is here and with it comes all of the holiday season celebrations! Many of us have established traditions that make our get-togethers with family and friends special. That being said, there is nothing wrong with considering adding some new things to the mix! You may just decide that you have room for even more “tried and true” ways to celebrate after trying out one of the traditions below.
1. Kick off the Season with Saint Nicholas
Sinterklaas, also known as Saint Nicholas Day in Germany, is celebrated on December 5. For Dutch children, "Sint" traditionally leaves a small gift, sweet or poem in their shoes. Gifts are often elaborately disguised as other objects. In Germany, many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot) outside the front door on the night of 5 December. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and of course, checks to see if they were good, polite and helpful last year!
2. Have a Global Christmas
There are so many interesting Christmas traditions around the world. The Pioneer Woman has 25 Christmas Traditions Around the World That Will Surprise and Delight You including everything from a yule goat to roller skates!
Consider a Christmas Eve feast from Italy. The Feast of Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition celebrated with seven seafood dishes. You may think, based on the name, that you have to stick to seven dishes. Not so! Many families also celebrate with other numbers of dishes, usually up to 13! Good Housekeeping has 53 Delicious Feast of Seven Dishes Recipes to Share With Your Family for the ultimate Italian Christmas Eve menu.
3. Mark Winter Solstice
The first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the winter solstice, which occurs on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 10:27 P.M. EST. The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight throughout the year, making it the “shortest day” of the year. It is celebrated around the world with unique winter solstice traditions. After all, the shortest day of the year means that it is the longest night of the year!
You can start a family winter solstice tradition by decorating an outdoor, edible tree. Use orange peels as ornaments, prepare peanut-butter pine cones, and make garlands of popcorn and cranberries. Gardening Soul has a guide to help you Decorate an Outdoor Christmas Tree With Edible Ornaments for the Animals.
Make some Wassail to warm everyone up when you are done decorating! This traditional warming drink is perfect for sipping during a solstice celebration. Combine 2 quarts of apple cider, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, 3/4 cup pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 cinnamon sticks, a dash of ground cinnamon, and a dash of ground cloves in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks, pour it into mugs, and pass it around. You can add a splash of rum or whisky for celebrating adults.
Reader’s Digest has 13 Fascinating Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World for even more inspiration!
4. Celebrate the Spirit of Kwanzaa
Consider celebrating Kwanzaa. Good Housekeeping tells us how to Celebrate Kwanzaa By Honoring These Meaningful Traditions Steeped in History. Although Kwanzaa traditionally is celebrated by families with African roots, any family can celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa this holiday season. Observed annually between December 26 and January 1, Kwanzaa draws from several African harvest festivals and blends elements of continental African culture, African American history and traditional African values.
No matter how you celebrate this season, when it is done surrounded by loved ones and with joy, it will truly be memorable! Wishing you the happiest and warmest of holidays!