Share Your Family’s Holiday Traditions


Does your family have holiday traditions? If so, you may not even know how they started; they have just always been a part how your family celebrates. No matter what holidays your family celebrates, your family’s holiday traditions are one of the most special parts of the season, and you may consider them part of your personal heritage.

Traditions also create a family bond that can connect generations. Consider sharing your family’s holiday traditions on FamilySearch Memories to preserve them for future generations. Sharing these traditions can inspire others, both in your family and beyond.

12 Holiday Tradition Ideas from Families around the World

If your family is new or looking for new traditions to start, here are some examples of traditions from families around the world. Use them as inspiration to start your own holiday celebrations!

The ideas below have been edited for space and clarity, and some names have been changed for privacy.

1. Decorate your home as a family—Adriano Almeida, Brazil

a father and daughter decorate a christmas tree together.

Every year we have the beautiful tradition of setting up our Christmas tree and putting ornaments on it so it looks beautiful and bright in our home, and we organize our nativity scene with baby Jesus! My children are always very excited about this tradition, and it is a joy and a sacred occasion for us.

2. Read nightly holiday stories—Megan Coalwell, United States

Our family has a book of Christmas stories we read during the month of December! Every day before we go to bed, my family gathers and takes turns reading the stories. They usually have some sort of cheesy but meaningful message that reminds us of the Christmas spirit.

3. Decorate a unique Christmas tree for each person—Leticia, Mexico

My family includes my parents, my big sister, and me. Each year,we decorate three trees to show our different personalities and likes, but we all help each other. Mom and Dad's tree is the main tree in the living room. It is usually the fanciest, a traditional green tree with silver and gold decorations. My sister goes a bit more wild and sometimes puts up a pink tree! Mine is usually all white with simple decorations because I love minimalism, though one year Mom gave me the idea of decorating it with all my videogame plushies!

4. Put out holiday lanterns—Allyson Gustaveson, United States

paper lanters light a sidewalk as a house is decorated for the holidays.

When we were younger, my family and I used to light luminaries all along the sidewalks of our home on Christmas Eve. Every year we had a few casualties (with a bag or two catching fire), but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to bring the Christmas spirit into our home.

5. Have an advent calendar that leads to Christmas—Toril Åkerblom, Sweden

My parents had a painting of our house with a nisse on it(a very tiny Santa that lives in barns and looks after animals—basically elves,but in the wild). They glued matchboxes in a circle around the house and decorated them with blue felt paper. Each box had a number from 1 to 24 spelled out in silvery glitter to make a countdown calendar. Every day leading up to Christmas,our parents would hide pieces of candy in the house and leave a small rhyme in the calendar for us to decipher. After finding the treat, we would have breakfast together while listening to the advent calendar special on the radio.

On Christmas day (December 24th in Sweden), we would find a sock filled with candy next to our bed. In the final matchbox, there was another clue. After deciphering it, we would find the end of red yarn and follow it to the Christmas tree, where we would find a Christmas morning gift.

6. Make a meal together—Liseth Malmborg, Venezuela

a woman makes hallacas.

My family makes hallacas, which is a dish made of corn, stew, and banana leaf. It is a symbol of family union, roots, and celebration in Venezuelan families. Every Christmas and New Year, members of my family—including my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins—always get together to make them. Some of us are in charge of washing the leaves, others make the stew, and others tie the hallacas. Although our whole family is not always present nowadays, it is nice to get together with friends and family to preserve and share this tradition.

7. Reenact holiday stories—Leslie Castillo Lacunza, Ecuador

Since my daughters’ father is from Ecuador, we make the “Advent Wreath.” This tradition begins on the first Saturday or Sunday of the month of December with all the family, and we tell the story of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. In total, in the four Sundays before Christmas, we sing, read passages of the Bible, and light three candles to remember the virtues to improve on in life: generosity, humility, and love.

a family reenacts a holiday story.

When my daughters were small, I dressed them up, and we acted out the manger scene. Their father was the donkey. He got down on all fours and carried one of my daughters, dressed as Mary, on his back all over the house. The other daughter was the star, and I was the narrator.

8. Throw a holiday party—Alison Ensign, United States

My favorite tradition is my family’s Christmas Eve party!The whole family gets together, and we play games, eat delicious food, have a talent show, and have other fun activities. Then we end the night by reading Luke chapter 2 and driving around to see the best Christmas lights in town. 

9. Go caroling together—Nuria Jiménez, Spain

a group goes holiday caroling.

Our family traditions include our children making their own nativity scenes on the24th of December. They also go to sing on the streets, going from house to house, store to store, or cafeteria to cafeteria, stopping for people on the street and singing to them so that they can receive money. With this money,many go paintballing, to the movies or camping, or to drive go-karts.  Before this, they give food and sweets to someone who needs them.

10. Give meaningful gifts—Raychel Skinner, United States

We give three gifts: a want, a need, and a gift “of the heart” (which is usually a book). Each kind of gift is wrapped in a different color. Gold is want, green is need, and red is the gift of the heart. These are the gifts Santa brings.

11. Enjoy special food, and have a family “Secret Santa”—Claudia Brandão, Brazil

We always have a seasoned type of chicken called “Chester” for Christmas dinner. This type of chicken is found in the supermarkets only at Christmas season. For dessert, during the holidays, we have “rabanada.”

We do a Secret Santa or “Amigo Oculto" (“secret friend”), as it is known in Brazil.When it is time to give the presents, the gift giver often describes the person until everyone guesses who that person is before the gift is given. Exactly at midnight,we hug and greet each other, wishing everyone a happy Christmas.

12. Hold “Pajama Day” after the holidays—Kate Niederhauser, United States

two girls celebrate pajama day, a holiday tradition held by a family.

We started “pajama day” to have a fun family celebration. Everyone gets fun games and toys for Christmas, but we always want to spend Christmas Day with cousins and extended family. So pajama day started. We keep the house all cozy, stay in our PJs, play our new games, and watch movies. We have crepes for breakfast, and sometimes I make a big dinner. The only rule is that we all have to be together.

What about you? What are your family’s traditions? Share them in the comments below, or preserve them on FamilySearch Memories. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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