Your Non-Traditional Holiday Traditions

Last year, Care2 staffers shared some of our unusual holiday traditions, including making candles and playing “elf on the shelf” (check out the post to read more on that one). We got so many interesting comments that we decided to share some reader-submitted non-traditional traditions. Here are just a few of our favorites.

  • Each year we have a new thousand piece Jigsaw puzzle among the gifts. Christmas afternoon we clear the kitchen table and start working on the puzzle. It usually takes several days to complete unless we have help from a kitty hiding pieces. This year I found a 1500 piece puzzle which was a real “bear” to put together–but it kept us entertained during the days of a blizzard /snow packed streets. Afterwards we give the puzzle to a youth home, shelter, or the VA hospital –Eugenea W.
  • Celebrating the Solstice, we used to go to a clearing in the woods, decorate the trees with edibles for the animals, light a small fire, sit around it and sing songs with a little drumming. Living in the city now, I go to the local parks to decorate the trees for the birds, light a candle, and dance. –Gerlinde P.
  • During this time I write and mail letters to various world leaders on behalf of individuals who are unjustly suffering as a result of trumped-up political charges or lawlessness. Amnesty International is an excellent resource — they organize a write-a-thon every year. — Cynthia S.
  • One family tradition at Christmas (shared with a few close friends) is the “Great Annual Yule Book Exchange.” We send books from our own shelves to each other and a card with some interesting or funny fact about the author, or a non-spoiler book review, a personalized bookmark or a good book light. It has become a tradition that everyone really looks forward to, and some books make the round of the entire group before being donated to a library or thrift shop book shelf, or passed along to people outside the book circle. Keeping a list of what is sent to whom and what you’ve received from others is a must. — Jeanne M.
  • We make homemade treats for the dogs and cats at our local animal shelter and deliver them Christmas Eve so they have something special for xmas morning. Some years we get the staff a gift too. — Laura C.

Related: Favorite, and Unusual, Holiday Traditions

  • Every year our family would choose someone less fortunate to be “Secret Santa” to. We’d anonymously drop off treats for the 12 days of Christmas. The kids would take turns being the one to ring the doorbell and run, while the rest of use waited in the “getaway car.” Whoever was the designated runner would wear their dad’s huge Arctic down parka to obscure who they were in case of being caught. It was a high honor! Today my grown children continue the tradition with their little ones, passing on the blessings of giving. — Gail P.
  • We celebrate the Winter Solstice and one lovely aspect of this is the blessing of dark. We try to have an evening when, with only the light from the fireplace and our Yule tree, we enjoy time together, quietly sharing memories and telling stories. — Gale J.
  • My great aunt started a tradition of putting a little rubber gherkin pickle in among the other pickles to be served with dinner. When the unsuspecting diner bit down on the fake pickle and responded with: what the heck is this?, my great aunt would collapse in giggling hysteria. She never did tire of this nor its accompanying trick of hiding a device under someone’s dinner plate that would make it move when they went to pick up a piece of food. Her enjoyment was contagious and we were soon all laughing and having a good time. — Marilyn B.
  • Herring salad…Diced herring, beets, apple, hard boiled eggs, pickles and onion. Has to set a day, so we make it Christmas eve and eat it Christmas day. My grandmother made it, my mother made it, I make it and now my daughter is taking over. For us it is a connection with the generations of women before us. — Sandra Q.
  • Every Christmas Eve when we went to bed we put our stockings at the foot of our beds. It was so much fun to wake up on Christmas morning and go through our stocking. It also gave our parents a little extra shut-eye, smart thinking on their part! — Susan L.

Do you have any out of the ordinary holiday traditions?

Related: 10 Wacky Christmas Traditions From Around the World

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a             y m.
g d c.3 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Magdalena K.
Past Member 3 years ago


KARLOLINA G.3 years ago

Show your support for OWS. Do not purchase Christmas gifts this year. Make them instead. This will hurt the 1%.

Jennifer Martin
Jennifer M.4 years ago

Awesome! I am a non-believer and was questioned this year as to why I was celebrating the birth of christ. Funny though, nothing about their celebration had anything to do with god, except a 45 second prayer before dinner. The rest was all about... GIFTS, presents, consumerism!! It's quite the Americanized holiday. I don't think Santa and Christ are related, haha. To me, this holiday is about spending time with my family. We only purchased a few gifts this year, but next year my husband and I will be starting our own tradition to pass on to our kids (when we finally have one!) We are going to make homemade gifts. This way, I can be sure it's all cruelty free and organic, and it's all made with love (:

Janice L.
Janice Lawrence4 years ago

I especially like the Yule and Solstice traditions.

Danuta W.
Danuta Watola4 years ago


Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

I like the Jigsaw puzzle joint effort to keep the family busy together.

Rhonda Conway
Rhonda Conway4 years ago

Some excellent ideas! Thank you

Caro M.
Caro M.4 years ago

We like to watch Monty Python's Life of Brian on Easter.