Throughout the festive season, there are numerous meaningful holidays that families can enjoy together.
Groups of loved ones may celebrate Christmas, or they could observe other holidays that come with time-honored customs, as well as unique rituals specific to each family.
I recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their favorite family traditions from the holidays they honor besides Christmas. In addition, users on Reddit have asked others about their annual rituals for Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, and the winter solstice. Here are the festive responses users have submitted!
1."We have a massive Hanukkah party for our friends and family, and there is a latke eating contest — who can eat the most in 10 minutes? Oddly enough, a non-Jew has won the past three years lol." —alexandrakh2
2."I'm an African American who proudly celebrates Kwanzaa every year with my family and extended family (who come from virtually every background imaginable). ... There really aren't any 'traditional' foods. We encourage folks to bring food, though we cook a full course of Southern-inspired (but healthy) dishes (collards, soups, etc.). Some of our guests are West African, Haitian, and South American, and bring relevant dishes from their cultures. Of course, plenty of white people come too, and they bring whatever they like. Everyone gets to eat something tasty and potentially sample homemade dishes from some other culture (I love Haitian fishcakes). The crowd is very diverse." —Aelexander via Reddit
3."My family does a Secret Santa-style gift exchange, which I recently dubbed Mystery Mensch. It usually has a theme, but not this year. We hadn’t done it in a long time, but I reinstated it last year, and it’s a lot of fun, especially since we all live far apart from one another. It’s a way for us to feel close even when we’re not." —rachelr4585454ac
4."I'm Navajo, and in my culture, we tell our Winter stories, play the shoe game, and give/receive brown sacks with an apple, orange, Christmas candy, and nuts. So fun!" —crafty_gm
5."For Hanukkah, we do a family all-you-can-eat meal of just latkes with sour cream and applesauce. My dad makes dozens and dozens and only stops when everyone is too full to eat another bite. As a kid, I was more into the presents aspect of Hanukkah, but as an adult, it’s the latkes I look forward to the most!" —sksouthwick
6."I’m a Korean adoptee, and I have been celebrating Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, for about four years now. I really enjoy wearing my modern hanbok to school and teaching the students about Seollal. I think it’s important they not only hear about other cultures and traditions, but learn and participate if they want as well. I teach them how to say 'happy new year' in Korean, how to do a formal bow, and some of the foods and games that happen. Then after school, myself, my husband, and my daughter either go out to a local Korean restaurant, or I make a Korean feast at home." —kkad
7."I celebrate Yule/Solstice with my found family. We write hopes/dreams for the next year on a ribbon and attach them to a Yule wreath, which gets burned. As the smoke rises into the air, your wish is carried to the gods." —kasibranham
8."Ever since I was a kid, after lighting the candles for Chanukkah and singing the prayers, my mom always had us sing 'Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel' before we could open any presents. Now, even though both her children are adults (late teens and early 20s, but still), we still sing it after lighting the candles even if there aren’t any presents to open." —emmasophia
9."We celebrate Deepavali, and it may not sound like much, but my favourite tradition is decorating our hallway. We live in a flat, and outside is like a hallway to the lift. Every Diwali, we put two lamps in front of the house, and then we decorate the hallway with lamps (we ensure no flammable items are nearby). I really love doing this with my family. Another tradition is me, my mom, and my sister make rangoli outside our house. My mom does the outline, and my sister and I fill it with colours. It’s very fun as I get to bond with my sister."—pandugaakshara104
10."My mom and I haven't done much for Hanukkah since losing my dad seven years ago and my grandma two years ago. We don't do gifts every night, it's usually every other night or one big gift and a few small gift over the course of eight nights. What I made a 'tradition' or rather a habit of doing is, when she's at work I go into her room and hide her Hanukkah gift for that night under the blanket, behind the pillow, hidden between a couple of plushies, under her pajamas ... Most times she'll find it when I'm at work since I typically do night shifts. But when I'm home and hear her bursting out laughing when she does find her gift (and occasionally a card to go with it), it's totally priceless."
11."We get together and light candles, sing songs, make latkes with sour cream and applesauce (usually as a side dish for something like salmon), and the kids open presents. Then we laugh and complain about how this is actually a minor festival on the Jewish calendar that only became huge because of its proximity to Christmas and wish we got all this recognition and time off work when we needed it three months ago for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the ACTUAL big Jewish holidays." —queasyyak
12."DIWALI. Christmas is the Diwali of the West. My family gives my mum a break, and the kids cook a lavish family dinner (the quality of which has improved since we started this at age 15). We play an Indian version of poker called Teen Patti and party with whiskey and dance/karaoke." —samairab
13."For Hanukkah, we have a family meal at my parents' house. We eat lots of latkes, light the candles on the first night together and exchange gifts. Gifts are mostly for the kids. :)"—tmueller
14."I don't do Kwanzaa now that I'm on my own, but my family and church celebrated it yearly when I lived at home. ... A normal Kwanzaa celebration for us involved reading the seven principles of Kwanzaa on each of the seven days of Kwanzaa and talking about how we could put them into our lives and lighting candles on a kinara (which kind of looks like a menorah) for each of the seven days and seven principles."
15."My father is a lapsed Catholic, my stepmother is a mostly-lapsed Jew. So we do 'Bougie Jewish Christmas': go to a movie Christmas day, follow it up with dinner at a restaurant for some kind of Asian cuisine: Thai, sushi, etc., and finally, a cocktail at a fancy downtown hotel bar. No more than one gift per person. It's glorious." —tronchin
16."My wonderful mother-in-law makes a big Lunar New Year dinner for us. In the past, this has been my husband and his three siblings, spouses, and grandkids. But lately, some cousins have been sneaking in because she is the best cook in the family. Every year she makes fried oysters with chilies specifically because I like them so much. My kids love her dumplings, so she will make those. She even makes a vegetarian version for the lone vegetarian in the group. She’s actually been prepping for weeks at this point. I can’t wait ... I think it’s a better food holiday than Thanksgiving." —ginsuwifey via Reddit
17."Happy Solstice, everyone! Our family celebrates the solstice by stringing plain popcorn and cranberries and decorating a tree outside. We also make bird feeders with sticks, peanut butter, birdseed, and twine. We do some candle meditations to reflect and plan for the next year. Then we stay up late playing games, watching movies, and eating good food and sweets!" —lurker__beserker via Reddit
18."I always go to my grandmother’s on the first night of Hanukkah, and each year she does a different theme of what gifts she gets us. This year she donated to our favorite charities in our names. Can you think of anything more Jewish??" —emilyntee
19."My family is Wiccan, so we celebrate Yule on December 21. We get together with our circle/coven members, perform a ritual marking the day, which usually involves the Oak King defeating the Holly King in battle, and then we eat a big dinner and exchange presents. It's a really fun and special day." —SarahDaugherty
20."Since my parents' divorce, the focus with my mom has exclusively been on Hannukah. We always have the traditional latkes, sometimes we have brisket, sometimes we have something nontraditional like chili, but we always play dreidel or another board game while the candles in the menorah burn down low." —travisc4d2528382
21."We celebrate the night before Hanukkah starts as well as the other eight nights, almost like a 'Hanukkah Eve.' In 2016, my parents planned on using the first night of Hanukkah — which happened to fall on Christmas Eve that year — to tell my sisters and me that our dreams of adopting a dog were coming true. I’d been begging for a dog since I could talk, and my sisters followed my lead. My dad ended up telling the parents of a family friend about this surprise, and they told their son, who is my age."
22."For Lunar New Year we wear our nice clothes, and usually have dinner with family, whether at a restaurant or at home with hot pot at the dinner table (I lucked out, as my wife loves hot pot, shabu shabu, and pho). We give red envelopes (with even sums of money in them) to younger relatives, to my parents, and to our children." —hillsfar via Reddit
Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and/or clarity.
If you participate in a holiday other than Christmas, what family traditions do you cherish most from this celebration? Let us know in the comments below!