Winter Traditions & Activities

Jess Hudon & Kathy Stevens, Staff Writers


Jess Hudon

When I think of Christmas, I think of spending time with family, decorating a Christmas tree, and, of course, receiving presents on Christmas morning. Although America is a nation of immigrants, there isn’t much variety and uniqueness about our traditions, so why talk about what we already know? Wouldn’t you like to know how other countries celebrate the holiday season? Take for example, two countries with which I am personally familiar: Quebec, Canada and Germany.  I’m acquainted with the holiday and winter traditions of Quebec because my dad was born and raised there. Christmas in Quebec differs a bit from Christmas in the U.S. in that most children in Quebec open their gifts on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day. It is a tradition to go to midnight mass, and when you return home, your presents have arrived from “Pere Noel.” After opening gifts, Quebecers stay up all night and take part in a huge feast called “Reveillon” that lasts well into the morning. Quebec is also known for having one of the largest winter carnivals in the world. It is held in Quebec City every year, usually from January to February and precedes the season of Lent. It consists of snow sculpture competitions, canoe races, several parades, giant life-sized bowling, and an enormous ice palace in which their beloved mascot, the snowman called “Bonhomme de Neige” lives.

Germany has its fair share of special traditions as well. We celebrate some of them in my family because my mom is half German. Let’s start with Saint Nicholas Day, December 6th. According to tradition, on the eve of Saint Nicholas day, children put out their socks or boots and if St. Nick fills them with gifts, it is a sign 

that they have been good and will receive presents from Santa Claus on Christmas. (By the way, wondering where the name Santa Claus came from? Try saying Saint Nicholas five times fast!)  My family has been participating in this holiday since I was little, and I hope we continue to celebrate it because I’ll use any excuse I can to get presents. It is said that the idea of putting a tree in your home for Christmas originated from the Germans. However, they decorate their trees with real candles that are lit for the first time on Christmas Eve. Sounds like a fire hazard to me! Oh, and one last German tradition: outdoor Christmas markets, all over Germany. If you’ve visited the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago, then you’ve participated in a German Christmas tradition.



Kathy Stevens

What better way to spend your Christmas break than in the most beautiful city, Chicago. In Chicago, there are many festive activities sure to fill you with Christmas joy.  Nothing says Christmas more than lights. If you bundle up, you will certainly enjoy the lights. Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo have light shows. The difference is that Lincoln Park Zoo’s lights are free, but if you are willing to spend some money for tickets, check out Brookfield Zoo where you can also see a penguin show. Tickets cost $17.85 for each adult.


                       Brookfield Zoo                                                    Lincoln Park Zoo

The next thing you can do in the city is to go window shopping but with a twist. Every year around Christmas time, Macy’s and other stores in Chicago have little stories being told in each window. It is very magical to see and brings out the little kid in you.

Finally, your trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without stopping at Millennium Park. There are so many things that you can do. For free, you can look at the Bean and take cool pictures with it.