Written by Megan Pettingill

7 fun holiday traditions to make the season sparkle

The last few weeks of the year are busy. With all the holiday parties, dinners, shopping, baking, wrapping, and celebrating, it’s easier than you think to succumb to exhaustion. But, instead of getting rattled by all the things you have on your plate, take a little time to find joy in the season. After all, part of living a full life is appreciating the small moments and focusing on the positive.

So this year, think about sharing one of your holiday traditions or creating a new one. If you’re on the hunt for a unique tradition, here are seven you may or may not have known about:

    1. Put a twist on the 25 Days of Christmas. Instead of (well, maybe in addition to) watching 25 holiday movies on Freeform (which we all still call ABC Family), count down to Christmas with 25 Days of Service. Try to do a small act of service each day. Buy someone a cup of coffee, put some money in the Salvation Army’s red bucket, donate blankets…anything to bring a little joy to another person! On Christmas day, look back and feel good about helping others.
    2. See a holiday-themed show. Many of us watch a specific movie around the holidays: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol. But why not check out a play or musical as well? You don’t have to live near Broadway to take advantage of the theater. Lots of local theaters put on seasonal shows this time of year and would love your support.
    3. Wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve for good luck. In several Latin American countries, including Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico, tradition dictates that wearing yellow underwear while you ring in the New Year will bring you prosperity, luck, and love.
    4. Host a Feast of the Seven Fishes. This Italian-American celebration happens on Christmas Eve and typically sees a family gather for a feast of seven different seafood dishes or one or two different types of fish prepared in seven different ways. (The ancient tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from meat and dairy products on feast days.)
    5. Welcome Sinterklaas on December 5. Ok, so we missed it this year, but this festive Netherlands tradition has children leave a shoe out by the fireplace or window in hopes that Sinterklaas will leave them small gifts and treats. (The name Santa Claus comes from Sinterklaas and their stories share some interesting similarities.)
    6. Hide a pickle in your tree. Seriously. Tuck one of these little guys (if you’re bold, you can use a real pickle) into the branches of your tree. Whoever finds it gets a special reward or gift. The origin of this one is hotly debated, but most people believe it’s a uniquely American tradition born during the Civil War when a prisoner begged for a pickle on Christmas Eve and later credited it with saving his life.
    7. Plan a dreidel tournament. Playing dreidel during Hanukkah isn’t very unique, but why not bring a little friendly competition to the centuries-old game? Create a bracket, make a trophy, and start spinning.

No matter how you choose to ring in the holidays, we hope it’s a warm, bright, and merry!

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