When someone refers to "the holidays," there's a good chance they're talking about an event in December. The month of December is best known for Christmas and New Year's Eve, but it's also full of other special reasons to celebrate. These notable holidays may have you baking for a good cause, giving an extra hug to someone special, or honoring your favorite pet. From National Letter Writing Day to the first night of Hanukkah, December is chock full of celebratory fun.
Here are 31 reasons to celebrate during the month of December:
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December 1: National Christmas Lights Day
If you haven’t already put up your Christmas lights, December 1 is the day to do so. And once you’re done decking your own halls, take a walk through your community to see your neighbors' festive displays. It might even inspire next year's creation. And don't forget to buy your advent calendar, too!
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December 2: National Mutt Day
December 2 belongs to the dogs—mutts that is! On this day, celebrate your unique and lovable mixed-breed dog if you have one. If you don't own a dog but still want to get involved, volunteer at a shelter or foster a mutt on this very special day in December.
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December 3: Let’s Hug Day
Promote a warm and fuzzy feeling by giving someone you love a hug on December 3. And it doesn't have to be a loved one, either. Sometimes hugging a stranger (like your barista or waiter) can make their day. Maybe you can even get your easily embarrassed teenager to give you a quick, one-armed squeeze. Hugs are proven to reduce stress and improve your health. So, why be stingy?
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December 4: National Cookie Day
If you need another excuse to celebrate, or bake cookies, National Cookie Day is for you. Use this holiday to host a cookie exchange or get involved in a nonprofit bake sale. You can also just stay at home in your kitchen and bake the day away by making your favorite cookie recipes. No excuses needed.Continue to 5 of 33 below.
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December 5: Repeal Day
Repeal Day (the day Prohibition was officially repealed in the United States) can only be celebrated one way—by enjoying an alcoholic beverage. Order up your favorite beer, wine, or cocktail at your local (and legal!) watering hole. And if you end up celebrating a little too hard, don't forget the hangover remedies.
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December 6: National Microwave Oven Day
No appliance has revolutionized the kitchen more than the humble microwave oven. Heat up some leftovers (surely, there are still some Thanksgiving leftovers laying around), pop some popcorn, or whip up a microwavable mug cake. And do so in appreciation of National Microwave Oven Day.
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December 7: Letter Writing Day
When was the last time you hand-wrote a letter? On December 7, leave your computer's inbox be, and reach out to a friend or family member with some good old-fashioned snail mail. Bonus points for making the card yourself, or use this day to send your holiday wishes—signed, sealed, and delivered.
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December 8: National Brownie Day
There is no comfort food greater on a winter's day than a batch of warm brownies. Whether you prefer basic cake-like brownies or gooey fudge brownies, whip up your favorite recipe to celebrate this delicious holiday in December. Add in a cup of hot chocolate, too, for an over-the-top chocolatey celebration.Continue to 9 of 33 below.
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December 9: National Pastry Day
Celebrate National Pastry Day by indulging in your favorite pastry. Croissants, pies, danishes, and cannolis—this is your day to shine! Try making homemade puff pastry from scratch, or head to your favorite bakery and pick up a sampling of savory breakfast treats or mouthwatering desserts.
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December 10: National Lager Day
Before the craft beer movement produced inventive brews, the humble lager quenched thirsty bargoers and tailgaters. And with seven different types of lagers to choose from (all characterized by their drinkability and low alcohol by volume), National Lager Day is the day to try one out. On December 10, raise your glass to a beer that’s packed with history and flavor.
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December 11: National App Day
Cell phone apps help to keep us organized, connected, and entertained. So on this newer holiday, National App Day, aim to make sure all of your apps are up to date, and get rid of the ones you don't use. While we don't exactly need an excuse to spend more time on our phones, tidying up our storage helps free up space both technically and mentally.
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December 12: Gingerbread House Day
Preparing for the holidays usually involves some gingerbread fun. And December 12 is set aside just for that. Bake and make a festive gingerbread house from scratch, or throw a decorating party so you and your friends can get creative designing gingerbread houses. If that's too much work, gingerbread men (and women) cookies are less labor intensive and can be hung by ribbon on your Christmas tree.Continue to 13 of 33 below.
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December 13: National Horse Day
Horse lovers come together on December 13 to celebrate their favorite working animal and its contribution throughout history. It's also a day for rural ranching towns to celebrate their heritage steeped deep in horse culture. If you have access to a horse, take a horseback ride on the trails, or consider donating to a charity that rescues horses.
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December 14: Roast Chestnuts Day
Roasting chestnuts is a foodie's holiday season tradition—there’s even a classic song about it (which came along well before the foodie craze). If you've never tackled this favorite kitchen pastime, December 14 is the perfect day to learn! Once roasted, you can peel and salt your chestnuts to enjoy as is, or add them to a stuffing, a dessert, or a soup, for a rich, nutty flavor.
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December 15: National Cupcake Day
National Cupcake Day pleases a cake lover's palate. From classic vanilla cupcakes to decadent chocolate treats (and even vegan versions), everyone has a favorite cupcake recipe. If you're not a baker, you're in luck, as cupcake-specific bake shops are popular. So, hit one up in your neighborhood on December 15.
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December 16: National Chocolate-Covered-Anything Day
Fruits, nuts, pretzels, and more! Covering food in chocolate makes celebrating better. For National Chocolate-Covered-Anything Day, pick your favorite chocolate-covered treat to indulge in. Salty chocolate treats seem to be trending, so why not dip some bacon in dark chocolate, and enjoy?Continue to 17 of 33 below.
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December 17: National Maple Syrup Day
If you live in the Northeastern United States or Canada, December 17 doesn't go unnoticed without paying tribute to a time-honored tradition of maple sugaring. (During the spring, warm temperatures force sugar maple trees to turn their stored starches into sugar. When the sugar mixes with groundwater, sap is formed and collected for sugaring. It takes a whopping 40 gallons of sap to produce just 1 gallon of maple syrup.) Maple syrup makes the perfect topping for pancakes and waffles, and some even use it to flavor coffee and hot chocolate. So, on December 17, appreciate all the work that goes into this natural treat.
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December 18: The First Night of Hanukkah*
Hanukkah, a traditional Jewish holiday, celebrates its very first night on December 18 this year. On this evening, worshippers light the very first candle of their Menorah and send a blessing. This is usually followed by a traditional family dinner and dreidel games. Some families exchange a gift each night to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or parents gift their children one dollar on this very first evening. Even if you don't celebrate Hanukkah, you can still send good wishes to those who do.
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December 18: Bake Cookies Day
If you haven’t already baked dozens of holiday cookies, December 18 is the day to put your cookie cutters to work. From classic sugar and butter cookies to Christmas cookies from around the globe—like pizzelles, kołaczkis, and madeleines—there are innumerable ways to test your baking chops today.
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December 19: Holly Day
On December 19, it's time to deck the halls with boughs of holly! Aside from Christmas trees, holly is the quintessential Christmas plant. It makes a beautiful addition to holiday wreaths and mantle decor, but don’t let your pets or children get a hold of it—the plant's berries are slightly toxic.Continue to 21 of 33 below.
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December 19: National Oatmeal Muffin Day
Oatmeal makes breakfast muffins healthy and delicious. So, whip up a batch for National Oatmeal Muffin Day, and your family will thank you for it. Try adding pumpkin or applesauce for seasonal flair, or throw in some chocolate chips to satisfy any sweet tooth.
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December 20: Games Day
School is out and work is winding down, making December 20 a perfect day for playing board games before your guests arrive for the holidays. Squeak in some quality family time playing together, while reflecting on the year in review. If you're the competitive type, research pro tips online and school your family in games like Monopoly and Scrabble.
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December 21: National Hamburger Day
Use National Hamburger Day as an excuse to get out of the kitchen and indulge in a juicy burger at your favorite haunt. Prepped with a classic brioche bun and cheddar cheese, or caramelized onions and bacon, gourmet burger joints boast creative ensembles that will make your mouth water. And if you're counting calories over the holidays, order your burger in a lettuce bun for a little less guilt.
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December 22: National Cookie Exchange Day
Sharing your baked cookies makes all the time spent in the kitchen worth it. So, on December 22, organize a cookie exchange with family and friends to taste everyone’s signature recipes. You also can also wrap your cookies in a special presentation and gift them to friends, teachers, and local workers. Or, hold a bake sale for charity and put your efforts towards something enriching.Continue to 25 of 33 below.
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December 23: National Pfeffernüsse Day
Pfeffernüsse are small, round, spiced cookies that are popular in Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Made with ingredients like flour, eggs, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and other fragrant spices, these cookies are simple to make and have a warm, spicy flavor. Add them to your repertoire this year on December 23
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December 24: Christmas Eve
Curl up on the couch with popcorn and "A Christmas Story," go caroling with your friends, or throw down a bountiful feast with family on the eve before Christmas. Track Santa's route online (for the little ones), eat Christmas cookies, and maybe even open one gift before tomorrow’s festivities. Every family has a traditional way they like to celebrate with loved ones on Christmas Eve.
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December 25: Christmas Day
Did Santa deem you naughty or nice? (You can tell by what's under your Christmas tree.) The day is finally here for exchanging presents, indulging in a Christmas brunch, attending a church service, and hanging out with family and friends. Plus, you may even get to wear your festive pajamas all day long!
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December 26: National Candy Cane Day
Candy canes are a staple Christmas candy. And their story dates back to the 1600s when a choirmaster handed out the original canes to children to keep them quiet during church ceremonies. Today, candy canes are used for much more than quieting unruly kids. Hang them on your tree, add them to cocktails, crush and mix them into popcorn, or use them to top other sweet treats.Continue to 29 of 33 below.
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December 27: Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day
Not the crafty type? It doesn’t matter, because it's virtually impossible to mess up a paper snowflake! On December 27, make a bunch of flakes to hang in your windows all winter long. Pick out a template to help you get started on "Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day," or simply just wing it.
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December 28: National Card Playing Day
From poker to bridge and Old Maid to cribbage, there are so many card games to play on December 28. Enjoy learning a new game, or partake in a family favorite. You can even team up and host a card game tournament for an exciting gathering after the Christmas celebration.
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December 29: Tick Tock Day
With only two days left in the year, use December 29 to take care of any unfinished business. Donate to a charity, clean up your QuickBooks files, and get yourself prepped for taxes on this day set aside to be purposeful. Once the clean-up tasks are behind you, you can head into the new year with all of your boxes checked.
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December 30: Bacon Day
Is there really an excuse to eat more bacon? Of course there is! And on December 30, you can use the holiday as a free pass to incorporate bacon into every single meal you eat. From a breakfast side to delicious lunch sandwiches, and bacon-caramel popcorn to creative cocktails, bacon adds a rich, salty flavor to just about anything.Continue to 33 of 33 below.
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December 31: New Year’s Eve
The countdown to the new year is here, and New Year's Eve is a special night to culminate the holiday season. Plan a nice dinner, or a night out on the town, and then reflect on all of the things you’ve accomplished over the past 12 months. Plan new goals for the coming year, and then stick to them next week when life returns to normal.
* Denotes that date changes each year
The Power of Hugs and How They Affect Our Daily Health. SLC Health.