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Off the Beaten Path - Alternative December Holidays Can be Fun

Updated on December 1, 2014

Last Month of Our Year

December is Universal Human Rights Month, with Human Rights Day falling on December 10 during Human Rights Week. The protection of human rights in the world is important, especially given the in-your-face reporting of violence and different types of slavery extant today.

Aside from the seriousness of human rights preservation, many of us are aware of both a Christian and a secular Christmas in America, and some of us may be tiring of neighborhood Christmas lights competitions, Black Friday sales events that run from Thanksgiving through the following Monday, and avalanches of pop-up ads on our computers insisting that we buy, buy, BUY! If you do tire of some of these things, add some fresh activities from the list below.

Month of the Cold Moon - Among some First Nations and Native American groups, December hosts the full moon called the Cold Moon. Click on the embedded link for a comparison of Mid-Winter Celebrations by Iroquois Nations and the Kwakiutl Nation at opposite sides of North America. These celebrations are centuries old. If you are in the Pacific Northwest, you can visit several First Nations installations on Vancouver Island and on the British Columbia Mainland.

December also saw the beginning of Bingo Games somewhere in the past. All sorts of events and traditions have begun in one December or another.

A Kwakiutl Cold Moon Celebration

Week I: December 1 - 7

Zoos across the United States hold Wild Lights and similar celebrations in which the parks are lit at night for the month of December. Special exhibits, holiday music, entertainment, and refreshments are offered. Check your local zoo for information.

December 1: Civil Air Patrol Day. Founded December 1, 1941, Civil Air Patrol or the "Flying Minutemen" engages youth in aerospace education, emergency services and disaster relief. A large percentage of all search and rescue missions in America involve the youth of the CAP. In WWII, 200,000 men, women, and teenagers, famous movie stars, future NASA engineers, brewers, doughnut makers, future Tuskegee Airmen, and lots of pilots in CAP helped to keep America free of Nazi invasion, flying their own planes at their own cost.

December 2: Fritters Day and Mutt Day. Mutt Day was founded in 2005 to be held on July 312 and December 2 every year. Founder Colleen Paige is a pet expert that wants America to save mixed-breed dogs from the pound. You can adopt a mutt or volunteer at your local animal shelter and play with the animals while they wait for their new homes.

December 3: Visit the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill near Cincinnati, Ohio, with 30,000 Christmas lights strung across Mount Rumpke, the trash collections covering over 200 acres and a set of 25-foot-tall candy canes. The company is family owned, operating since 1932 all over Ohio. The methane gas the mountain of trash produces is turned into natural gas to power motor vehicles!

Mount Rumpke

A markerMount Rumpke, the highest point in the county. -
3800 Struble Road, Cincinnati, OH 45251, USA
get directions

December 4, 5, 6, and 7: Art Basel Miami. Multiple art shows in Miami, Florida.

December 4 - 13: National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

December 5: International Ninja Day. Red Rock Balloon Festival in Gallup, New Mexico. First Weekend of December.

December 7: International Civil Aviation Day. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was created on December 7, 1944. Volunteers from teens through older adults proved their value worldwide during WWII.

Many towns offer short railroad excursions during the December holiday season.
Many towns offer short railroad excursions during the December holiday season. | Source

Stories of the Civil Air Patrol

General Stand Watie, Cherokee Nation.
General Stand Watie, Cherokee Nation.

Week II: December 8 - 14

December 8: Birthday of James Thurber, humorist, author, and cartoonist.

December 9: National Pastry Day.

December 10: Congressional Gold Medal for CAP Day -- The Civil Air Patrol and about 40 survivors from WWII received the 2014 Congressional Gold Medal on this day for using their own planes and fuel to protect the USA against German U-boat attacks during World War II along our Eastern and Gulf Seaboards. CAP prevented WWII from coming on land in America.

December 11: International Mountain Day. (You might try Mount Rumpke again.) Visit one of the United States national parks for winter activities, and have a bagel, on this National Bagel Day.

December 12: Confederate General Stand Watie's Birthday. Born in 1806 near Rome, Georgia, this Cherokee Nation member survived the Trail of Tears.

December 13: Boogie in the Bungalow music festival in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

December 14: National Biscuits and Gravy Day.

Try the December Bird Count


The Big Year Bird Count

The Big Year
The Big Year

This is a hilarious account of an annual bird count turned into a cutthroat competition by three rivals played by Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson.


Week III: December 15 - 21

December 15: Beginning of the Christmas Bird Count, though the first of the year. Fine a place needing counting of birds at the Audubon website:

December 16: Chocolate Covered Foods Day. The trend in the 2010s is to cover lots of bacon with lots of chocolate. Check out some Chocolate History and how to make real chocolate.

December 17: More in aviation: Wright Brothers Day. Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first powered flight in this date in 1903, in a heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Interestingly, on this date in 1969, the US Air Force closed "Project Blue Book", concluding that there is no evidence of extraterrestrial activity in UFO sightings. Millions disagree! They still wonder about the "secret moon base" that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin may have discovered up there in July of the same year.

December 18: National I Love Honey Day. A Christmas superstition in Appalachia says that the honey bees hum the 116th Psalm on Christmas Eve. Today is also the birthday of filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

December 19: The National Hockey League began its first season on this day in 1917.

December 20: World Board Games Day.

December 21: National Flashlight Day.

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park.
Snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park. | Source

Colo from Birth to Age 57

The birth of Colo and her descendants have paved the way for gorillas, an endangered species, to thrive in human care. It's hard to imagine what the world would be like today had she not been born.

— Tom Stalf, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Week IV: December 22 - 28:

December 22: Happy Birthday to Colo the Gorilla at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium! On December 22 in 1956, this gorilla became the first one born in captivity. In 2014, she is 58 and still healthy. So far, Columbus holds the world's record for oldest gorilla in captivity.

December 23: Night of the Radishes. A contest is and nearby villages carve large radishes into detailed figures and scenes and compete in a contest sponsored by the City of Oaxaca

December 24: New Pajamas Day - give and wear new pajamas on Christmas Eve.

December 25: National Pumpkin Pie Day.

December 26: Junkaroo Parade and all-night street carnival in Nassau, Bahamas - dance troupes of up to 1,000 dancers each, cowbells, drums, horns, whistles, music, costumes, and more dancing.

December 27: Visit the Zoo Day.

December 28: Card Games Day.

Bonus Days! December 29, 30, 31

December 29 - 31: Snowglobe Music Festival, South Lake Tahoe, California.

December 29: Texas became a state in 1845.

December 30: Bacon Day and Rudyard Kipling's Birthday. Also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day and Baking Soda Day - which has at least 50 uses.

December 31: No Interruptions Day. It is also National Vinegar Day, so make an old fashioned Vinegar Pie.

The Cold Moon.
The Cold Moon. | Source


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    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This seems fitting with what has been happening lately in the news. Love the holidays.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I hope you have a lot of fun with these holidays!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      It is not too late for me to celebrate some of these holidays. I am definitely doing the pajama day! Thanks for sharing these wonderful celebrations.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This was FUN and had a little something for everyone.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Busy and fun. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy some of these activities.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      Wow December is sure a busy month . Thanks for the information :-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @MsDora - Merry Christmas! December can be very entertaining while we remember our religious traditions. I hope everyone can have a few good smiles this month!

      @mckbirdbks - Hubbers appreciate your visits to their writings as much as they enjoy your good stories, like The Chocolate Girl. It all makes HubPages something to look forward to every day.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Patty, just today I have been running around looking for so of the traditional Christmas spirit. You have pointed out many different celebrations, many of them interesting. The holiday does offer a chance for me to support other (previous) hubpage authors.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Something to do or remember on every day this month. No cause for holiday blues--learn something, try something--even look up something in this article. Very interesting!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @mary615 and purl3agony - Thanks you very much for the support! December can be a glad time for most of us. If we know friends that have depression, maybe we can get them to enjoy some unusual holidays for a change. Food holidays are especially fun and a good excuse for experimentation in the kitchen.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @Lady Guinevere - Happy that you enjoyed this information! I've heard about new pajamas on Christmas Eve from several people and then heard that it is a holiday, and a fun one too. I think in some places, people give PJs on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Have fun with new PJs!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very informative. Surprising that Christmas Day is also Pumpkin Pie Day.The train reminded me of the Polar Express. An enjoyable read!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      That was an entertaining read about all the activities during December in the U.S.A

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Definitely circling Dec 9 and 16th on my calendar! I don't want to miss the celebration on National Pastry Day and Chocolate Covered Day :) But seriously, I've always wanted to learn more about bird counts and will check out opportunities in my area. Thanks for posting and sharing! This hub would make a great HOTD!! Voted up and useful!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Well, I learned a lot from this Hub! I had no idea there were so many special days in December.

      Great Hub, voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting indeed, December is chuck full of interesting things. We are totally non-traditional and will celebrate some of these things.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      Voted up and across the board! Now I know how my husband's family got the PJ day and givin for Christmas present!! Thank you so much for this hub. I had asked a question about doing this like these. I am sharing it all around. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! HUGS!!!