Christmas traditions

Christmas is a time to reflect, reconnect with friends and family and celebrate all the wonderful things in our lives. Here are some of the many ways families in America celebrate the holiday by way of Christmas traditions.

Decorating house with lights – High electric bills be damned! Putting up the Christmas lights usually starts happening right after Thanksgiving. Taking them down afterwards is a different story.

Leaving milk/cookies for Santa – This might be the quintessential Christmas tradition. The kids love it (and presumably the parents, er, Santa, enjoys it as well).

Volunteering – Many people feel Christmas is a time to give back to their community and will volunteer serving meals and helping those in need.

Christmas caroling – If you don’t mind a roaming pack of singers showing up on your doorstep and belting out a song, you will love it. If you’re in a cranky mood and carolers start knocking on the door, you may not answer, you Scrooge.

Cookie swap – Christmas cookies are in abundance during the holiday season, which is why co-workers and friends often participate in cookie swaps. What’s not to love?!

Christmas cards – A tradition that predates e-mail is sending out Christmas cards along with a letter inside that recaps what the family has been up to the past year.

The Nutcracker – Going to the local theater (or dressing up and trekking into the big city) to go see The Nutcracker is a Christmas tradition for those with young kids. It’s unclear why we make kids sit through The Nutcracker, but so be it.

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve – Only because the kids bug parents incessantly do the little ones get to open one of their presents on Christmas Eve. Can’t they just wait? (No, they can’t!)

Going to pick out a Christmas tree – This is one tradition that seems like a good idea. But once you’re at the tree farm and you’ve somehow got to strap a 15-foot tree to the roof of your car, you will ask yourself why you didn’t stick with an artificial tree.

Collecting ornaments – Decorating the Christmas tree is a tradition in and of itself. So is buying a new ornament every year and adding it to the collection. At some point your basement becomes cluttered with these things, but that is what green and red storage bins are for.

Other Christmas traditions in America include watching football, going to the local Christmas parade, setting up nativity scenes in the front yard, driving around looking at lights on houses, reading Christmas stories before bed on Christmas Eve, attending midnight mass and of course, wishing for a White Christmas.

The best Christmas light videos of all time

Putting up holiday lights is an annual tradition here in America. And while some neighbors are content with the basic lighting set up, there are people who take it to the extreme. Here are five examples of such people and their over-the-top lighting set ups. A typical light display of this caliber will use anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 lights! Really, this is all too much. But if you insist, prepare to be dazzled.

We Three Kings – If you can get past the poor song choice (Book of Love’s version of “We Three Kings”), this light display is pretty remarkable and has an almost 3D presentation. There is a little more flash and fanfare than the usual holiday home light display, which makes this Christmas light video one of our all-time faves.


O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night
– The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a phenomenon of its own, with its epic interpretations of holiday classics. Their music seems even more over-the-top when synchronized with a house fully decked out in Christmas lights.


Wizards of Winter
– Someone in Colorado Springs put a lot of effort into making their home a holiday haven of Christmas lights. The music and lights are synched up just right and the result is an awesome display of American ingenuity during the Christmas season.


Master of Puppets
– Unless the neighbors are metal heads, this Christmas light display is bound to induce a headache. With soundtrack provided by heavy metal band Metallica, this video will certainly be a hit with head bangers. But if you’ve got to get up early in the morning for work, it might be time to call the cops on this neighbor!


Hamster Dance
– Nothing says Christmas quite like the Hamster Dance. That’s right, the Hamster Dance. There are certainly better light displays, but on song choice alone, this is enough to make everyone shake their head during the holiday season and have hamsters wondering if they’ve been naughty or nice this year.