Now that we have stuffed ourselves with a delightful Thanksgiving feast sprinkled with love, we can direct our attention to the next big feast—Christmas. Christmas is certainly one of the holidays with a treasure trove of traditions, but do you know why and how exactly these traditions came about?

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree carol Christmas Traditions
The most popular Christmas icon, especially for children, is the Christmas tree. We’ve all been though the phase of counting how many beautifully wrapped gifts nestled under the tree have our name on it. But did you know that the tradition of decorating trees came long before Christmas itself? It is believed that ancient pagan societies that practiced animism brought and decorated trees indoors to please the spirits and ensure a good harvest. Trees only became linked to Christmas when Christianity started to spread across Germany. The popularization of the modern Christmas tree came about when Prince Albert, originally from Germany, introduced the Christmas tree to England after he married Queen Victoria in 1840.

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Black Friday should not just be about lining up the whole night to get awesome shopping deals. If you don’t want to line up or are simply looking for other things to do on Black Friday other than shop with a huge crowd, try out some of our fabulous suggestions for alternative activities.

See the Great Outdoors

Alternative Activities to Black Friday Lake

Really see the great outdoors by going camping, hiking, or swimming. If you’re not the active type, you can simply enjoy the scenery and take pictures. Whatever your level of activity is, you can be sure that nature will take you on a great journey of discovery.

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Cooked Turkey
Image by Njvack

With only a few days left before Thanksgiving, we’re all getting ready to stuff ourselves with excellent food while attempting to avoid answering overly personal questions. Of course, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a delectably juicy and absolutely awesome turkey on the table. You can even imagine the spirit of Thanksgiving whispering “you complete me” to the turkey à la Jerry Maguire. But how did the turkey become the symbol of Thanksgiving, anyway, and in how many artery-clogging ways can you prepare a turkey?

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When the holiday season begins to make itself felt, people usually imagine warmth, love and everything nice. While everyone revels in the cheerful atmosphere of the holidays, these characters are waving their fists at everyone for being in a festive mood, at least at first.

Ebenezer Scrooge

Bah Humbug! We’re sure you’ve heard of this phrase before but not everyone knows that it came from Ebenezer Scrooge, the old grouch from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This cold-hearted, greedy man hates Christmas, especially since he is forced to give his employee, Bob Cratchit, paid time-off. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the doomed spirit of his old friend, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who reveal to him the evil of his ways. At these revelations, Scrooge experiences a change of heart and becomes a kind, generous old man.

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When the holidays come rushing in, the travel bug bites and gnaws on our imaginations. The usual options for travelers at this time generally revolve around two choices: the Siren’s call of the rolling waves on white sand beaches for those who prefer the heat and the temptation of fresh powder for the adrenaline-pumping, winter sports enthusiasts. If you want a break from the usual vacation spots, here are some wonderfully weird but ultimately exciting activities and travel destinations:

Heat Seekers


Image by Tormod Sandtorv | flickr

If you prefer warm places, you might enjoy traveling to hell and back. Located in Turkmenistan, the 60-meter wide and 20-meter deep Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as Hell’s Door, attracts tourists from all over the world. You won’t find devils carrying their tridents around the crater, though, because this attraction was accidentally made by Soviet geologists back in 1971. They discovered that this cavern was rich in natural gas, and to prevent the poisonous gas from escaping, they decided to light up the crater until the gas burned out – the crater hasn’t stopped burning since.

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The holiday season is almost synonymous with vacation season, so if you’re itching to travel this fall or winter but still cannot decide where to go, try following some of these literal big heads and you might just have the best vacation experience ever:

The Great Sphinx of Giza

sphinx

The mysterious Sphinx calls the country of Egypt home and beckons you to journey through the ruins of an ancient civilization that produced architectural brilliance like the great pyramids. This mystical being is definitely guarding a treasure trove of history that begs to be explored.

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We usually celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast surrounded by our families and filled with joyful conversation. After being thankful for the meal and the time spent with the family at dinner, avoid prodding questions from family members with some trivia about Thanksgiving. Here are some to get you started:

roast turkey thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving is a Pilgrim Celebration

No, it’s not a Pilgrim’s celebration, but a “pilgrim” celebration. Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill proclaiming that day as a national Thanksgiving holiday, but it took more than 300 years before that date was finally officiated. Thanksgiving moved from a three-day feast during the harvest season to the third Thursday of December, then from February 19, by order of George Washington, to any day the governor of the state declared it. By the time Thanksgiving finally settled on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941 by Abraham Lincoln and his successors, it had moved through the calendar, much like a pilgrim on a quest for a settlement.

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The beginning of the holiday season almost always means that it is party season once again. If you want to attend the hottest parties in town, you may want to make sure that you are known not only for your amazing personality, but also your uncanny gift-giving skills.

Before you can select the perfect gift, you have to get to know the host of the party first. If you don’t know the host too well, think of him or her as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Do your research. Find out if the party has an overall theme and ask people about the host’s interests. Just to get you started, here are a few fabulous gift ideas that will make a lasting impression:

Lovers of Fine Brew

If you know that the host of the party has a taste for beer, a personalized beer mug is a safe bet. Have his or her name engraved on the mug, or have one specially designed to reflect the host’s personality. If the host appreciates a good laugh, you can even have his or her picture incorporated into the design. If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase a beer brewing kit so that the host can experiment making his or her own recipe.

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Entertaining unexpected visitors can be somewhat troublesome. Many hosts aim to impress with complicated dishes, but this often leaves too little time to actually enjoy their guests’ company. At the same time, guests could be craving more than the usual popcorn and soda. Hopefully, with our Sensational Snacks from Around the World, you’ll be able to find some simple snack ideas that are guaranteed to please.

Japanese Edamame

Japanese edamame soybeans

Take some fresh green soybeans, rub them with a sprinkle of salt, boil in water until softened, then drain. Spread the soybeans on a tray to cool before serving. This snack won’t take too much time – around 15 minutes is enough – and the combination of the salt and the flavor of the beans is downright tasty.

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Who does not love candy corn? Hardly anyone can recall a Halloween spent trick-or-treating without receiving a handful of these sweet, delightful kernels – and rightly so. First produced in the 1880s, this classic candy has become an American favorite, and has even inspired a Christmas tree design!

Candy Corn Christmas Tree

But did you know that there’s more to candy corn than meets the eye? Here are some crazy candy corn facts that you probably haven’t heard:
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