One of the things that makes America great is its diversity, especially around the holiday season. While Christmas across America is celebrated in a similar fashion, it’s never exactly the same wherever you go.
A list exploring America’s numerous different holiday traditions would be a pretty lengthy one. Thankfully, we’ve narrowed down the 10 best and weirdest we found. Did you hometown make the cut?
1.) New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is one the most vibrant cities in the world. Because of this, they’re actually on this list twice. The first tradition New Orleans has on this list is their holiday ox. Every year, a large ox is adorned with holly and ribbons. Residents then walk with the “holiday ox” through the city streets as a way to celebrate the coming of Christmas.
Since Hawaii is an island, the local folklore is that instead of flying to the island, Santa Claus takes a boat. This tradition, coupled with the generally fantastic weather on the island, makes for an outdoorsy sort of holiday in Hawaii. Christmas is usually marked with fireworks, and Christmas dinner is eaten outside.
3.) Rhinebeck, New York
Most residents in the small town of Rhinebeck, New York, trace their heritage all the way back to original Dutch settlers in the region. This town knows how to celebrate the holidays.
The locals celebrate their heritage every year the during the holiday festival of “Sinterklaas.” Sinterklaas is the Dutch spelling of Santa Claus. It’s actually where we get the name Santa Claus in English. The festival is a week long affair, culminating in a vibrant parade that’s a mix of pagan Christmas traditions and European Christmas traditions.
4.) Scottsdale, Arizona
While this isn’t an old tradition, it’s a strange tradition nonetheless. Back in 2010 and 2011, the Gun Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosted a “Santa and Machine Guns” event. It’s just like getting your picture taken with Santa at the mall, except that you bring your guns with you.
There doesn’t seem to be a plan to bring back this tradition anytime soon, but the couple of times the event was held were considered a success.
SantaCon is one of the most bizarre modern American holiday traditions. It’s actually a pretty simple tradition. Every year, in different cities around the country, thousands of people dressed like Santa Claus gather together. They then proceed to wreak drunken havoc upon the surrounding city. Basically, these cities have combined Christmas with an epically huge pub crawl. I’d say it’s probably the worst (and most fun) holiday tradition on this list.
6.) Skaneateles, New York
The Dickens Festival takes place every year in the small town of Skaneateles, New York. During the Dickens Festival, the entire town is transformed into London from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. But it doesn’t stop there. Some of the townsfolk also dress up as the characters from the book, and interact with visitors. You can even borrow some of their extra Victorian-style clothing if you feel like joining in on the fun.
7.) North Pole, Alaska
As the name suggests, this town in the suburbs of Fairbanks is ripe with Christmas tradition. In fact, the town is permanently decorated for Christmas during the rest of the year.
However, this town really shines during the holidays. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy traditional candle lighting ceremonies, in addition to a giant winter ice park, and Santa Claus’s house.
8.) McAdenville, North Carolina
If you visit McAdenville during the holiday season, you’re in for a treat. They’re famous for elaborate Christmas decorations. The town of McAdenville is located along a lake, and how the town decorates the streets along the lake is breathtaking. Instead of just lighting up one or two trees, the town wraps all of the trees around the lake in lights. It’s a spectacular sight to behold.
9.) New Orleans, Louisiana
Back to New Orleans, their other tradition that made the cut on our list is the tradition of the “Lighting of the Levee.” This is a specifically Cajun tradition where bonfires are set along the Mississippi River. The fires are supposed to guide the way of Papa Noël (New Orleans Santa Claus).
10.) Pickle Xmas Tree
The Christmas Pickle is a weird tradition that has slowly wormed its way into American Christmas traditions over the last century. On Christmas Eve, parents hide a green pickle ornament somewhere on the Christmas tree. The first child who finds the pickle on Christmas morning gets a prize. Allegedly, the tradition comes to America from Germany. Except, of course, most Germans have never heard of these pickle shenanigans. Investigations into the tradition have revealed that it was a story made up by F.W. Woolworth in the 1880s to sell more Christmas ornaments.
Well, there you have it. These are some of the weirdest and most interesting Christmas traditions from across America. Whether you celebrate any of these or not, we at ViralNova wish you a very merry holiday season.