11 Christmastime Traditions That Need To Come To America

11 Christmastime Traditions That Need To Come To America

Nothing like a little arson to get you in the Christmas spirit.

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Christmas season in America means the Hallmark Channel, mall Santas, commercials begging us to buy a Ford to the rhythm of "A Visit from St. Nicolas," flashing lights, far too many cookies, the occasional Nativity scene, and amalgamated bits and pieces of Christmas traditions from the past couple thousand years. Let's see how other countries do Christmas--and maybe take a cue or two.

1. The Gavle Goat, Sweden 

Straw goats are a staple in Swedish Christmas decorations. In 1966, someone thought it would be a good idea to make a giant version to attract tourists and attract customers to the Castle Square shops. Since then, the giant goat has been a yearly tradition, though it never lasts long: it has also become a tradition to try to kidnap him, hit him with cars, and most popularly, burn him down. Maybe a little arson could liven up our holiday season as well.

2. Hiding brooms, Norway

In Norway, there are superstitions that associate Christmas Eve with the arrival of witches. Therefore, all brooms must be hidden (so you don't end up accidentally play a part in taxi-ing around the servants of the devil). Who knows? A little more superstition might do us all good, plus this could prevent all that last-minute cleaning from being forced children by their parents.

3. Good-luck almonds, Finland

Finnish families sometimes celebrate Christmas with a traditional porridge made of rice and milk and topped with cinnamon. One lucky child will have a hidden almond in their serving, that's supposed to spell good luck--but sometimes parents cheat and put almonds in all their children's bowls.

4. Christmas turrón, Spain

Turrón is a traditional Christmas dessert from Spain made of almonds and honey. Can we please replace all fruitcake with this?

5. Day of the Little Candles, Columbia

"Día de las Velitas," or "Day of the Little Candles" is celebrated in Columbia on December seventh, to honor the Immaculate Conception. Thousands and thousands of candles are lit throughout the country, and for every candle, a wish is made.

6. Christmas Eve sauna, Finland 

Another Christmas tradition in Finland is to end Christmas day with a trip to the sauna, for relaxation and to symbolize spiritual cleansing. No explanation needed for why this would be a welcome tradition.

7. Handmade farolitos, Mexico

In Mexico, families cut designs into brown paper bags to make lanterns, called farolitos, that light homes and streets with the spirit of Christmas--a bit more impressive than your typical paper snowflakes.

8. St. Lucia Day, Sweden 

St. Lucia was a young girl who was martyred in 304 A.D. On December 13th, Sweden honors her with St. Lucia day, where girls who have been chosen to represent St. Lucia visit hospitals and nursing homes to bring carols, food, and Christmas cheer to the patients.

9. The red candle, Ireland 

During a time of great Irish Catholic persecution, Catholic families would light red candles in their windows. This was a secret message to any priests in need of shelter that they were a Catholic family and would harbor them. To prevent suspicion over the lighted candles, the Catholic families would tell the authorities that the candles were to welcome Mary and Joseph into their homes during the Christmas season. Now, a lighted red candle in the window has come to symbolize hospitality during the holiday season.

10. Good-luck kutya, Ukraine 

Kutya is another holiday dish meant to bring good luck for the future. It's made of wheat berries, sweetened with honey, and traditionally served on Christmas Eve.

11. Christmas picnics, Australia 

In Australia, Christmas comes right at the beginning of the summer season, and is often celebrated out on the beach. For most of the U.S., this isn't an option, but if you live in one of the warmer states, why not give a Christmas picnic a chance?

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Summer Ideas To Do With Your Hometown Friends

Here are few ideas my friends and I have planned for this summer.

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As you know, I have been in school in New York for the past few months. I have only seen my friends during the one week I went home for Spring break, but that wasn't enough time for us to really hang out much since I was also catching up with family. Now that I am back in California for the Summer my friends and I plan to do things we didn't get to do.

1. Travel Jar

The furthest place my friends and I have been to together is San Diego, which is only three hours away from where we live. This Summer we plan on taking it further into some different cities in California. We decided to make a travel jar in which we color code places based on the distance that we plan to go to.

We have three colors: Red for different major cities in California, Pink for different U.S. states, and Purple for different countries. We plan to choose one of each color each year and plan three trips that fit our schedules. For Summer we are doing our red and pink trips.

We plan on going to San Francisco for a few days together, and I'm excited because I love it there. We also plan on going to Las Vegas, Nevada in August before school starts for my 21st birthday.

2. Scenic Hikes

We made a list of hiking trails with beautiful scenic views that we plan to go to once every two weeks. These trails are mostly along the coast from Malibu to Laguna Beach. We also added some trails that would be fun to do at night. Hiking with friends is a great way to be active and have fun at the same time.

It can also be a great opportunity to capture great pictures with your friends!

3. Concerts and Festivals 

In addition, we have made a list of concerts and festivals that we want to go to. We each have different taste in music, so we all agreed to each choose a concert or festival and we all have to go to it. So far we plan on going to Hard Summer in Fontana, CA, Northern Nights Music Festival in Cook Valley, CA, and the 2019 Wango Tango Concert in Carson, CA to see Taylor Swift, Jonas Brothers, Halsey, and other artists.

4. Girls Night

We all take turn hosting girls night where we watch movies, have snacks, drink, and just hang out together. Since we always take so long to decide on that movie to watch we each made a list so that we would be ready for the next sleepover.

Last week, my friends came over and we made some drinks, talked, and watched Crazy, Stupid, Love. Sometimes spending the night in is more fun than going out and it's just needed.

5. Disneyland and the OC Fair

These are two places that are more of an every Summer thing we do. We have to go to Disneyland together at least once every Summer, this is significant to us because this is where I and a couple of my closest friends became close friends.

My two friends became a couple of my best friends after we all I ditched my group (which I wasn't even close with anyway) when my friend Crystal invited me to hang out with her group on grad night. We hung out throughout the whole day and eventually it was down to just Crystal, Stephanie, and I at the end of the night.

We have been close friends ever since. The OC fair is just a place ever person from SoCal needs to go at least once, the main attraction is the butterfly room where you are in an outdoor netted area where there are hundreds of butterflies flying around and you get to be in close contact with them.

6. Sports Events

My friends and I aren't really much into sports but attending a sports event is always fun! My family bought season tickets for the Los Angeles Dodgers so I will be taking my friends with me a few times. I am a huge Dodger fan so I have been going to the games since I was little and I always have a great time at the stadium.

Baseball is like the only sport my family and I are into. Also, I have a friend named Ciara who is a cheerleader for the LA Clippers so she gets free tickets to the basketball games and she'll sometimes invite me. I don't really follow basketball but it is always fun going to see a game at the Staples Center with her, or even with other friends just to go watch her cheer.

7. Matching Tattoos

I have a few friends who I plan to get matching tattoos with and this Summer would be the perfect time to finally go do it. I recently got one with my friend Ciara during Spring break, so I want to get more with other friends who I also promised I would get one with. I plan on getting a tattoo with my sister, my cousin, and my best friend this Summer.

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It's Important That We All Are Able To Step Back, Take A Breath, And Enjoy The Little Things

Really think of the good in your life, don't just hit the surface level of it all.

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The little things in life no matter where you're at adds up. They can sometimes be few and far in between or just as frequent as us being on our phones almost every day. They are what make us give more thought about life, they are being with friends on a nice summer day, an epiphany, a night stroll, listening to music, going out with friends. These finer points in life are what makes it that much more special.

Taking a breather when things get crazier is easier said than done, but it's something that we sometimes need to do and could help us being able to manage life in the long run. Life is not a cake walk for anyone, and I'm not saying that it'll get easier but just because it doesn't get easier isn't going to stop us from living our best life. Sometimes taking a break is what we need sometimes, and that can come in many forms whether that's taking a chunk out of your day to read outside, go on long walks, hang out with friends, etc. Anything that can positively impact you in a way that helps you be able to have breathing room for yourself.

Once you took a breather, go and think on all of the good that's in your life. I mean really think, not just hit the surface level of it all. Think on the many times you've been hanging out with the exact same group of friends for so long and how they've been there for you and you for them, think on the walks that helped you cleared your head or that you have fun doing just cause, think on the little things such as you doing your hobby, favorite food, etc. Just think of all the things you have that mean so much to you, and how they've changed your life for the better.

We get so stuck trudging through life wishing, hoping for something better, wishing we could have a significant other we could hold on to, taking back a really crappy thing we said, feeling as if we're not going anywhere in life, that sometimes we forget to breathe, take a step back and see clearly the place we're at in our lives. Seeing that we have clothes on our back, food in our bellies, friends, and families we could lean on, and a life that deserves to be lived to its fullest.

Those finer points in life teach us is that the good, wholesome people in our lives or starting to show up in our lives help us get through the days and push us to be better people and that the little things we do that make our lives even a little bit better are what makes life worth living and why we should always appreciate those in our life because we only have one life to live.

Sometimes people don't have those points to look on, and it pains me that not everyone would be able to have that but to those that don't have those points to look on just know there are groups of people that are loving, kind, and good. That if you push on just a little bit longer you'll be able to meet those people and live a life you always wanted whether that's with a small group of friends or a big group.

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