Holiday traditions & 4 Ways to celebrate

Holiday traditions are an integral part of the holiday season. They bring people together, create a sense of community, and help to preserve cultural and personal values. Whether it’s baking cookies, decorating a Christmas tree, or fasting for Ramadan, holiday traditions are an important way to celebrate and honor the holiday season!

See how we celebrate holiday traditions and special events in this post.

Gift exchanging

One popular holiday tradition is the exchange of gifts. Depending on which holidays your family celebrates, you may give gifts during Christmas, birthdays, Hanukkah, or other holidays.

Gifts are also a good way to show love and appreciation for our friends, family, and important people in our lives.

For gift ideas, check out some of these posts:

Christmas shortbread petticoat tails cookies pictured in front of a christmas tree. An example of holiday traditions.
Mary-Jane’s delicious family recipe for petticoat tails shortbread

Sharing of meals & Baked goods

Another popular holiday tradition is the sharing of meals and baked goods. Many cultures have specific dishes that are traditionally served during the holidays. For example, during Christmas, it’s common to see roast turkey, ham, and roast potatoes on the table. Many families also make Christmas cookies, like those pictured above.

Hanukkah is often celebrated with latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). And during Thanksgiving, a roast turkey is typically the meal’s centerpiece. These are all examples of how sharing a holiday meal is a way to bring people together and celebrate the season. It’s an opportunity to break bread with loved ones and create lasting memories.

Here are some holiday recipes and traditions surrounding the sharing of meals:

Preschoolers christmas ornament of wooden beads hanging on the tree
Holiday traditions & 4 Ways to celebrate

Holiday decorating

Decorating is another holiday tradition that is enjoyed by many. Whether it’s hanging lights on the house, setting up a Christmas tree, or creating a festive table setting, decorating helps to create a festive atmosphere and adds to the holiday cheer. You could also create festive holiday-themed photo strings to showcase your family celebrating holidays over the years.

Different cultures and families have their own unique holiday decorating styles, from colorful and bright to minimal and elegant. No matter the approach, decorating for the holidays is a way to add a touch of magic to the season.

Many families enjoy creating holiday decorations together! Learn how to make adorable Christmas tree decorations here: 14 Adorable Christmas ornament crafts for kids.

See how cultures around the world celebrate holiday traditions!

Unique family traditions

In addition to these more well-known holiday traditions, there are also many unique and personal traditions that families and communities celebrate. These might include visiting a certain location for religious ceremony or leisure, participating in a special activity, or following a particular set of customs.

These traditions help to make the holiday season meaningful and memorable, and they often hold special significance to those who observe them. They can be as simple as watching a certain movie every Christmas eve or as elaborate as reenacting a special holiday tradition passed down through generations.

They also make the holiday season more enjoyable! In fact, a study by Sezer et al. shows that

Family rituals improve the holidays because they amplify family closeness and involvement in the experience.

Family Rituals Improve the Holidays, by Ovul Sezer, Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, and Kathleen D. Vohs

If you don’t yet have holiday traditions for your family, though, don’t fret! It’s never too late to start. For some tradition ideas and ways to get your family into the holiday spirit, read this article by Parents.

Ideas to celebrate Christmas

I can’t speak to many cultural holiday traditions, but as someone who grew up celebrating Christmas, I’m happy to share some of my favorite Christmas traditions!

Here are some ideas that will help you create memories and celebrate the holidays with your family members:

  • Early/Mid December
    • Advent calendar: My Momma would always put candy in a calendar for each day of December. You could also put small gifts like special ornaments or games.
    • Send a letter to Santa: We always made hand-written letters, but you could use one of the many virtual letters to Santa tools!
    • Make and decorate gingerbread houses. Hosting a gingerbread house-building competition is also fun!
    • Get a Christmas tree: We would always head out into the backwoods for Christmas trees, but you can also visit a Christmas tree farm, buy a real tree from the store, or get a fake tree to use year after year.
    • Host holiday parties with extended family and friends: We always loved to exchange gifts with family and friends at a secret Santa or have themed parties like an Ugly Sweater party
    • Make Christmas decorations and cards: Handmade cards with handprint characters are adorable if you have children. You can also make simple decor like paper snowflakes.
  • Christmas eve
    • Make cookies for Santa Claus: Don’t forget to leave some milk and reindeer food, too! We would always leave a bundle of carrots.
    • Watch Christmas movies: Watch timeless classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” or our family favorite, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and have appies as dinner. After, we would have homemade hot cider or hot chocolate and have Christmas cookies.
    • Sing Christmas carols: Some families still love to sing Christmas songs together. Our town always puts on a Christmas event for the community and there’s usually Christmas caroling there.
    • Go for a walk or drive and look at the Christmas lights in the community.
  • Christmas day
    • We would usually listen to holiday music while opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning. Depending on how much time we had before family dinner, we might play outside with friends and family or watch another Christmas movie
    • Have a family gift exchange: We would always bring one gift for a gift exchange game like, White elephant. The rule would change yearly for the type of gift to keep it interesting. One year they had to be from a thrift store, and another year the gift had to start with the same letter as your name, for example.
  • Boxing day (December 26)
    • For us, boxing day was always the day to spend time with immediate family. We would often go ice skating, have a bonfire, or head out to the park for sledding
    • Go shopping: If you’re not tired from holiday shopping, take advantage of the many deals available for Boxing Day!

Hopefully, this list helps you get into the holiday spirit and thinking about Christmas traditions that you can enjoy with friends and family! We would love to hear how you celebrate, too. Let us know in the comments below.

Holiday dinner table set up with christmas decor and a tree in the background.
Holiday traditions & 4 Ways to celebrate

Conclusion

Overall, holiday traditions are an important part of the holiday season. They bring people together, create a sense of community, and help to preserve cultural and personal values. Whether it’s a well-known tradition or a personal one, these customs help to make the holiday season special and meaningful.

Happy holidays!

References

Family Rituals Improve the Holidays, by Ovul Sezer, Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, and Kathleen D.

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

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