People Who Celebrate Holidays That Aren't Christmas Are Revealing Their Special Family Traditions

Throughout the festive season, there are numerous meaningful holidays that families can enjoy together.

A family stands in front of a lit menorah in celebration of Hanukkah
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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.

Close-up of traditional decoration with candles and exotic fruits for Kwanzaa celebration with family having dinner in background
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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

Close-up of couple passing latkes during a meal at dining table while celebrating Hanukkah at home
Drazen Zigic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Festive table setting for African American Kwanzaa celebration. Symbols of African heritage. Seven candles in red, black and green. Harvest and gifts on wooden background
Galina Atroshchenko / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Smiling woman sitting at home and opening a Christmas/birthday present during a video call, adapting to the new normal concept
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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

Nuts, fruits and cookies in jute sack, natural Christmas food background art
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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

A plate of potato latkes (potato pancakes) with sour cream and apple sauce
Jerrydeutsch / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Asian woman dressed Hanbok pose of standing in Seoul, South Korea
Punchim / Getty Images

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

Hands in cozy sweater cutting red ribbon with scissors for modern traditional wreath with fir branches and wooden hoop on rustic table. Atmospheric moody image. Making stylish christmas wreath
Bogdan Kurylo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

A young brother and sister open Hanukkah presents in their home
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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

Traditional rangoli made using sand colours during Diwali days. Rangoli decorated with lamps
Alokbrahmbhatt / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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."

A funny young girl is in a hurry to hide a gift for a loved one, husband, children, friends and parents, a woman wants to make a surprise and hides the gift in the closet during holidays

"Her gift from the dog is always in plain sight and 'signed' by him ... I hold his paw and a pen in my hand and try to write his name on it. She loves his 'handwriting' lol." —Id

Zhanna Danilova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

A mother tears challah while her family enjoys the Hanukkah festivities
Halbergman / Getty Images

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

A high angle view of a dinner table which is laid out with lots of traditional fresh food that they are going to eat to celebrate Diwali as a family in their home
Solstock / Getty Images

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

A young boy begins to open a Hanukkah present
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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."

Kwanzaa celebration

"We all wear Kente cloth dress, and my mom and I wear big head scarfs. We basically just spend time listening to traditional music (one year my dad brought professional African drummers to our house to perform, and it was awesome) ... talking, exchanging handmade gifts (because Kwanzaa is all about not being commercial and showing your love and respect through hand-making stuff, not buying stuff), listening to music, eating and just hanging out with each other." —BTfromSunlight via Reddit

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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

A person reaches for some popcorn during a movie
Antonio Gravante / Getty Images/EyeEm

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

Asian chinese family chinese new year reunion dinner having traditional dishes at dining table
Edwin Tan / Getty Images

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

Family Enjoying Movie Night At Home Together
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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

Happy senior Jewish woman toasting with her extended family during lunch at dining table
Drazen Zigic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

Photo of typical smorgasbord with breaded ham, meatballs, sausauge,noisette, pickled herring and side dishes Julbord med griljerad skinka sill och lax
Knape / Getty Images

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

A table set for Hanukkah, with dreidels, menorah, and a plate of crispy latkes (potato pancakes) served with apple sauce and sour cream
Sbossert / Getty Images

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."

Lovable, pretty puppy and bright gift box. Close-up, indoors, studio photo. Day light. Concept of care, education, obedience training and raising pets

"At this point, he and I were very competitive with one another. He would get pissed off every time I beat him at whatever Nintendo game we were playing on the Wii. And his family was hosting a Christmas Eve party that we were invited to.

My parents were afraid that the son would end up spoiling the surprise to me if he lost one too many times to me or my sisters, so we celebrated a fake first night of Hanukkah specifically to tell us we were adopting a dog (this way, the surprise wouldn’t be ruined).

Every year since, we have a small celebration the night before Hanukkah begins. We make latkes, play dreidel, and build a fire while watching whatever cartoon comes onto the TV."


Sviatlana Barchan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

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

elderly couple grandparent giving red envelope lucky money to granddaughters and wishing them happy new year with hand gestures in living room
Ponywang / Getty Images

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!