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30 holiday traditions that don't involve religion

  • 30 holiday traditions that don't involve religion

    The holiday season is the time of year for warding off wintertime blues. People can distract themselves by celebrating the winter solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the changing from the old year to the new one.

    Some cultural or faith-based practices go back to ancient times. Today though, many create additional ways to commemorate this season, turning them into personal, family, and community traditions. Some are quirky and not transferable to anyone beyond the microculture that practices them. However, others are creative, inclusive ways to celebrate life when the days are the shortest and the weather is the coldest.

    Stacker presents this look at 30 fun ways to spend time this holiday season outside of a faith-based practice. See if any of these are on your list, or might be for this coming season.

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  • Cruising the light displays

    Even if your own holiday traditions don't involve tree lighting, it is hard to resist cruising the neighborhood to admire lighting displays at residences or businesses. These might range from the understated strands of twinklers around the front door frame to inflatable reindeer on the lawn or throbbing music timed to a laser show. They'll give you ideas of what to do, and what not to do, next year.

  • Sharing annual family recipes

    Holidays are the time to make and share traditional dishes with the family even if they aren't everyone's favorite. Sweet potatoes made sweeter with marshmallows, turkey dressing made with toasted Wonder bread, or green Jello embedded with pear can all evoke the spirits of loved ones from the past. Is it any wonder people want to pass them on?


  • Holiday open house

    Now is the time to take care of all those social obligations you've racked up over the year. Throw an annual holiday open house, invite friends, neighbors, or business associations. The food preparations should be much less intensive than for a dinner party, and you can decorate your home in a way that showcases your own traditions. You can even do this as a part of a local fundraiser if you wish to open your home more broadly.

  • Shopping as a team sport

    Shopping is not just about buying things. Sure, it's a way to acquire items you keep or give to others. However, holiday shopping is its own animal. It is a holiday bonding activity in which people forage for great deals on electronics, clothing, or gifts they might find a recipient. 

  • Watching holiday movies

    If you like to head to the movie theater with friends and family, you'll have choices from family-friendly films like “Mary Poppins Returns" or action-fantasy films like “Aquaman." If you are a home-binger who likes to eat and talk through a movie, you can stay in the holiday season spirit with romances on the Lifetime and Hallmark channels. Also, don't forget those traditional choices, like “It's a Wonderful Life" and “A Christmas Story."

  • Watching college football bowl games

    Why wait for the NCAA college Final Four playoffs to get into the action? Starting with the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 19 and ending with the national championship on Jan. 7, there are 40 football games during the holidays. That means plenty of chances for family and friends to gather around the big screen or head to the local sports bar to follow the action. For non-sports fans, these high-interest, big-money contests still have great commercials you can enjoy.

  • Getting off the couch and working out

    In between all the holiday cocktails and snacks, there may be extra reason to work in some physical fitness. You can do this alone or with friends at the gym, or with the thousands of people who take part in holiday season motivational fitness challenges.

  • Taking holiday getaways

    This might be a trip to grandma's house, but it is also a handy time to take the kids on a trip while school is out for winter break. Popular locations for winter travel are warmer places or locations. While predictions for 2018 are not yet available, last year AAA predicted 107.3 million Americans would be on the go from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1.

  • Playing board games

    While on break from school and work, the long dark nights of the holiday season are a perfect time to turn off the TV and dust off those board games. There are great new games that can become a holiday tradition if you play them long enough. Remember, there's nothing like a rousing game of Twister to get the gang laughing and burning off extra holiday pounds.

  • Activities with the elderly community

    Most communities have at least one long-term care center where residents may not have many visitors. Activity directors set up events where groups can volunteer together, sing carols, lead bingo sessions, or visit with other residents. See whether your workplace, church group, or social club would like to start this caring holiday tradition.

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