(BPT) - Dark mornings, cold days and snowy roads are all things that might bring you down this winter. But winter doesn't have to be a time of hibernation. With all of the holidays and celebrations throughout the season, your entire family can get involved in activities to keep the winter days cheery and bright.
An established set of winter family traditions gives everyone something to look forward to when the months get chilly and long. The joy doesn't have to end once Christmas is over, you can extend the holiday magic until the first sign of spring. Bring your family closer together with these fun winter tradition ideas:
Take time out of the normal hustle and bustle of the Christmas season to enjoy the atmosphere. Collect everyone in the car and go for a drive to see the festive lights, attend a holiday concert or go skating or sledding as a family. And don't forget about the classic traditions, like leaving milk and cookies for Santa and stuffing stockings on Christmas Eve. Unique stocking stuffers and gifts can really make this tradition stand out in the minds of your loved ones.
The most famous New Year's Eve tradition in the United States is to watch the dropping of the ball in New York City's Times Square when the clock strikes midnight. Many U.S. families also celebrate the New Year with a dish called the Hoppin' John, a southern favorite made of black-eyed peas. The 'eyes' on the peas symbolize the completed year and hope for good fortune.
You can also have some fun with your family when you explore traditions from around the world. For example, in Spain there is a ritual to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve, which is meant to represent 12 months of happiness in the coming year. In Greece, New Year's Day is also the festival of St. Basil. For this festival, families bake a silver or gold coin into a cake and whoever finds the coin in their piece will be especially lucky for the next year.
Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to remind all your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Make it more than just a typical February day when you get up early to exchange valentines as a family. Have everyone write letters of appreciation to each other and read them out loud, or simply go around the table, giving each person a chance to share a tribute to another family member. Even the simplest of praise can do wonders for strengthening and bonding relationships.
When your birthday falls so close to other popular winter holidays, the special day can easily get lost among the rest of the festivities. Make the winter birthdays in your family stand out by creating a special tradition to mark the occasion. This could be a long-standing tradition like taking hand prints each year as your child grows, or as simple as a family dinner out complete with gift-opening. For example, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has toys and one-of-a-kind gifts at all price ranges for winter babies at any age.
Make every winter holiday spectacular when you create your own winter family traditions. Whether you're inspired by these ideas or have your own, traditions will keep you celebrating and building lasting memories with your family throughout the winter months.