When it comes to odd holiday traditions, Illinois is closely linked to three of the weirdest ones.

Weird Holiday Traditions

During the holiday season, most families have a whole set of traditions they do each year and many of them may be the same as our neighbors and friends, while others may be vastly different.

While on a search for weird holiday traditions I discovered that Illinois is known for 3 wacky ones, and two of them I never really knew about and definitely have never participated in.  One of the most notable is the practice of "Krampusnacht," which is celebrated on December 5th.

What Is Krampusnacht?

Krampusnacht, also known as "Krampus Night," is a centuries-old tradition that originated in Austria and has since spread to other parts of Europe and the United States. During this event, people dress up as the legendary creature known as Krampus, who is said to be a horned, demonic figure that punishes naughty children at Christmastime.

Photo by Alessio Zaccaria on Unsplash
Photo by Alessio Zaccaria on Unsplash

In Illinois, Krampusnacht is celebrated in a number of different ways. Some people participate in parades or parties where they dress up as Krampus and roam the streets, scaring children and adults alike. Others attend Krampus-themed events, where they can enjoy food, drink, and live entertainment, and there are even Krampus-themed haunted houses you can visit in Chicago too!

Christmas Pickle Tradition

Another unique Christmas tradition in Illinois is the "Christmas Pickle,"  which is said to bring good luck to those who find it on their Christmas tree. According to legend, the Christmas Pickle is the last ornament to be hung on the tree, and the first person to find it on Christmas morning will receive an extra gift from Santa Claus.

A man hanging up a unique pickle ornament on a Christmas tree
Getty Images/iStockphoto

In Illinois, the Christmas Pickle is often hidden amongst the branches of the tree and can be quite difficult to find. Some families even make it a game, with each member of the household searching for the pickle on Christmas morning. The person who finds it is said to be the luckiest member of the family and will be blessed with good fortune throughout the coming year.

Chicago's Christmas Tree Ship

Finally, another interesting Christmas tradition that is uniquely Chicago is the "Christmas Tree Ship," which is a holiday tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. The Christmas Tree Ship was a real ship that would transport Christmas trees from Michigan to Chicago during the holiday season.

Chicago's Christmas Ship via Facebook
Chicago's Christmas Ship via Facebook

According to legend, the ship would sail into Chicago on Christmas Eve, where it would be greeted by a crowd of excited children and families. The ship would then unload its cargo of Christmas trees, which would be distributed to families in need.

Today, the Christmas Tree Ship is remembered through a number of different events and activities in Illinois, including parades, concerts, and reenactments. Some people even decorate their Christmas trees with ornaments that depict the ship and its crew.

Do you have any wacky Christmas traditions to add to this list? Send us a message now on the app and tell us all about it!

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