The holiday season is exciting, with presents, food and drinks, winter break and a little quality time with the family. Many USM students have at least one quirky holiday tradition or twist on a classic tradition to look forward to when they’re celebrating the season.
A lot of times, old-fashioned holiday activities that our ancestors would have been excited for remain active in families today. Other traditions have fallen out of style—for instance, oranges were once the greatest prize for anyone on Christmas day, and are now common. Some traditions however, may not be popular any longer, but have not died out completely. “My family hides a pickle in our Christmas tree,” Caitlyn Vieth, a senior history major said. The pickle in a tree is an old German tradition where one member of the family hides the pickle and whoever finds it gets a prize, Vieth explained.
Other families may have less historically rooted holiday rituals. “We also open just one present on Christmas Eve, which doesn’t always work so well. Once, I only got one slipper and had to wait until the next morning for the other,” Katie Meuse, an undeclared sophomore, said.
Some will tell you that the holidays are about including everyone and appreciating even the furry members of the family. “Every Christmas my mom wraps our pet’s gifts and puts ‘From Santa’ on them and gives them to the pets to open when we open our gifts,” Heather Gebhardt, a senior English major, said. Gebhardt said that the animals are mostly unphased by their gifts, but her family still enjoys doing it.
With the weather outside making it hard to be active, some people naturally turn to cooking and eating to pass the time. Patience Bryant, a senior art major, and her mother, however, may be more ambitious than most. “My mom and I bake a ton of different cookies that are from our family history, mostly from Germany and Holland,” said Bryant. She listed Leckerlies, Zimtsterne, Pfeffernusse and Springerle as a few of the traditional European cookies she and her mother make.
The holidays are a festive time in which people do special activities together, and no two families celebrate them in quite the same way.


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