Retro Gets a Revival in a Diner-Inspired Basement Remodel

In 1913, Jerry Mahoney established the first stationary diner in New Jersey. Similar to the horse-pulled lunch wagon (which the diner ultimately replaced), the idea was to offer a place for “your average Joe” to get a reasonably priced meal. By the 1920s, the term “diner” had become a well-known part of popular culture and you could find plenty of Americans seated on a colorful stool at a long counter or in a cozy booth enjoying a casual and filling meal.

In the 1930s, many diners began to feature aerodynamic shapes, curved silhouettes and bright chrome accents. These design elements were hallmarks of Art Deco’s “Streamline Moderne” style, which was inspired by the streamlined trains that were crisscrossing the country at the time.

Rosebud Diner – Somerville, MA

As 1950s car culture gained prominence, the diner lifestyle became even more widespread. Diners not only provided a convenient place where people traveling for work and recreation could recharge and get a quick and cheap bite to eat, but their ‘no fuss,’ laid back atmosphere made them an appealing gathering spot.

Fast forward 60 years or so and imagine how fun it would be to create your very own diner in your home. Well, Glenda Ervin and her husband did just that in their basement.

Glenda Ervin is a co-owner of Lehman’s, a store that was founded in 1955 by her father, Jay Lehman, to provide hardware for the Amish community. Located in Kidron, Ohio – in the heart of Amish country – the store has grown significantly over the years and now sells everything from old-fashioned treats and sodas to practical, non-electric goods that help people live a simpler life. In fact, it’s been voted “Ohio’s #1 Destination in the Amish Country” for three years in a row.

Lehman’s original storefront – Kidron, Ohio

The Ervin’s have always had a fondness for simpler times. For a number of years, they have been regularly hosting 50’s themed events – complete with costume contests – at the store. Says Glenda, “We’ve always enjoyed our 50s parties and our store carries so many authentically retro products. So we thought, ‘Why not update our basement and create an authentic diner?’ That way, we could enjoy the 50s and all of its nostalgia at home!”

Ervin basement – before

The Ervin’s decided to base their diner design on the year 1955, the year Lehman’s was founded. However, that made it challenging to find decor items specific to the time period. Notes Glenda, “My husband’s insistence on being authentic to 1955 limited our choices. There were so many cute diner decorations available, but it if wasn’t from the right era, we couldn’t use it.”

Ervin basement – after

The couple’s persistence paid off and they were able to adorn the diner with the perfect mix of mid-1950s style. “We were able to find many unique pieces during our travels,” says Glenda.

The star of the space is a Candy Red Northstar retro fridge from Elmira Stove Works. “The fridge looks so authentic and is so dramatic,” comments Glenda. “We knew the color scheme was going to be red, black and white, so the red refrigerator fit perfectly as an accent piece and really brings the space together. We love the chrome accents and bright, cheerful color.”

The diner also comes complete with a cotton candy machine, a bubble gum machine and a popcorn machine.

Glenda’s husband was a contractor who remodeled homes for a living and did all of the work in his spare time, completing the remodel in just under four months.

Says Glenda, “Not only is the diner theme nostalgic, but it is also a great conversation starter and creates a super fun place to entertain. We have hosted several 50s parties in the space, complete with costume contests! I actually own not one, but two, Poodle Skirts. Adds Glenda, “When guests visit for the first time, all of them have the same reaction, ‘Oh, how fun!’”

The Ervins couldn’t be happier with their retro diner. “At Lehman’s, we stand for a simpler life, which we believe is more fulfilling, more sustainable and more honest. It’s about relationships with companions, community and family. The diner embodies that philosophy and we love it!”

Want to create your own retro-inspired space? Learn more about Northstar retro appliances.

Bell Bottoms, Broncos & the Brady Bunch – a nostalgic trip into the past

No matter how tech-driven world our world becomes, our love for all things nostalgic continues to grow… and in a big way.

This is even more true now during the pandemic when most of us are unsure just exactly how that future will shape up. Feeling less anchored than usual, people are seeking a sense of comfort and a connection with simpler times. And, while we could choose any number of decades that bring back “the good old days,” we’re thought we’d take a moment to explore the 70s. In fact, one of the most popular trends at the moment is a return to the iconic looks of the 1970s. Bell-bottoms are making a(nother) comeback along with far out floral prints that evoke “flower power” and the Disco Decade.

Just take #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” which has been one of the most widely used hashtags on social media since its creation in 2011. Typically used to share happy memories from the past, it serves as a great way for people to reminisce with their friends and family. We find comfort in being able to look back to bygone eras to draw inspiration and look for ideas that will help us to enjoy a better future.  

In mid-July, Ford Motor Company re-released its legendary Bronco, which will be available as early as June 2021 to the 3,500 consumers who were lucky enough to reserve the first vehicles off the assembly line. As Ford looks to further meet the growing demand for stylish, workhorse SUVs, the brand has equipped this throwback with the most advanced smart technology. Car enthusiasts can hardly wait to get their hands on the thoroughly updated version of a what has become a cult classic.

Image: S Alan
Image: OFL

Our blast from the past doesn’t end with cars and clothes. One cannot talk about the 70s without thinking about the television family that was synonymous with the era – The Brady Bunch. Thanks to HGTV, we got to see late last year how the fictional Brady home has fared over the years with a front row seat at the much anticipated Brady Bunch House Makeover

A spin-off show featuring “Jan Brady” (actress Eve Plumb) aired at the end of last year. Staying true to the decor of the period, the home featured a Northstar retro fridge and range in Buttercup Yellow – it was definitely like taking a step back in time. We think Marsha would be yellow with envy… “Jan, Jan, Jan!”.

But you don’t have to be a fan of the 70s to love colorful retro appliances. Our Northstar line brings vintage style, the perfect pop of color and a welcome touch of nostalgia to any kitchen. Buttercup Yellow not your thing? No worries at all – choose from seven other standard colors or opt for more than 1,200 custom colors.

Eve Plumb (“Jan Brady” of The Brady Bunch) standing next to her Northstar appliances

Pretty groovy, if we do say so ourselves!

Farmhouse Style Gets a Refresh

Drawing inspiration from the farm homes of early settlers, traditional farmhouse style mimics the look and feel of days gone by. It incorporates the simplified, minimalistic decor necessitated by the surroundings of farmhouse residents and their need for durable, practical furnishings.

Unlike past renditions, today’s farmhouse style is all grown up. It’s definitely not your grandmother’s farmhouse. Instead, the farmhouse looks trending at the moment balance an eclectic mix of old and new design elements.

Old vs. “New” Farmhouse Style

Classic farmhouse style includes trademark elements from farm homesteads of the past such as natural wood accents – think paneled wood walls, wide plank floors, shiplap and exposed wood beams – along with mainstays like porcelain apron sinks. Vintage furniture and accessories with weathered finishes are also common as is vintage-inspired lighting.

In contrast, modern farmhouse design starts with the comfortable, relaxed farmhouse style and incorporates more contemporary touches such as clean lines, glossy accents and neutral color palettes. This look is less rustic, more sophisticated and utilizes contemporary design elements such as granite countertops and sleek lighting. The overall aesthetic includes less clutter for a more streamlined look that still maintains the inviting feel of traditional farmhouse style.

How to Achieve Modern Farmhouse Style

Here are some key elements of modern farmhouse style.

Make it practical: Furnishings and accessories should be comfortable and purposeful and have a lived-in feel. They should welcome you into the space, and nothing should be too delicate to use regularly. The room should appear as if it evolved over time. To avoid a cluttered look, keep accessories to a minimum.

Stay neutral: A neutral palette comprised of cool or warm neutrals such as cream, beige, silver and light gray will make the room appear fresh, light and open while balancing natural elements. Pops of subtle color can be incorporated to add depth and help to break up the space, and the use of simple patterns and a mix of textures will bring dimensionality.

Mix and match: Mixing and matching furniture, including vintage and new pieces, stays true to farmhouse roots, while delivering added comfort and style. Pairing traditional natural elements such as wood with newer ones like concrete, stainless steel and other metals puts a new twist on farmhouse style.

Go natural: Natural materials are an important element of any farmhouse-inspired space. Introducing distressed or reclaimed wood in architectural features or furniture helps to anchor a room while  using natural fibers, such as cotton, sisal, rattan and wicker adds visual interest. Natural stone brings an organic, timeless quality that is at once classic and modern.

Add industrial touches: Modern, industrial elements will make farmhouse-inspired decor current. Incorporating retro style or vintage-inspired appliances along with industrial-style metal objects like modern lighting fixtures and mid-century modern style furniture can bring unexpected panache and a fresh, of-the-moment feel to a farmhouse space.

See examples of modern farmhouse style.

Retro Inspired Details Transform a Palm Springs Condo Into a Sunny Getaway

Today’s interior design aesthetic has been trending toward more modern looks with clean lines, neutral hues and lots of open space. You could browse Pinterest for hours and feel like you’ve been looking at the same white kitchen the entire time. While that look is appealing to some designers, others choose to celebrate the unique style and character of the past. California-based interior designers Ossie Saguil and Craig Mann remodeled an iconic residence at Park Imperial South in Palm Springs to do just that.

When Saguil, a partner in Mr. Mann’s Design, first came across the two-bedroom residence, he was intrigued by the possibilities. The historically significant mid-century modern condo was built in the 1960s by modernist architect Barry Berkus and featured distinctive features such as an accordion-style plate roofline and terrazzo tile floors. However, alterations had been made to the interior that disrupted the flow of the living space.

“The previous owner had built a wall to partition a small bonus room from the main living room, but the bonus room was not practical and ended up being used for storage,” says Saguil. “The kitchen was also small and separated from a tiny lanai that the owner had turned into a breakfast nook. But it was too cramped to be an enjoyable space.”

Saguil and his team demolished the wall and made it part of the living room, converting it into an entertainment area. To open up the flow of the kitchen, they also removed part of the counter that separated the kitchen from the lanai. This created an island that was a practical and functional space for food preparation, along with a small counter area for eating and relaxing for two people.

Eclectic Does It

From the start, Saguil wanted to pay homage to the home’s pedigree while also making it functional for modern living. He chose furniture and appliances with a distinctive nod to the 1960s, but also included items reminiscent of other decades.

“There are pieces from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and the millennia, which brings a lot of character to the home,” adds Saguil. “I collect furniture from local consignment stores and yard sales, and also have pieces from Joybird and Blu Dot. I support my artist friends by displaying their work in the condo, including two pieces that were inspired by the home.”

An Unexpected Element Sets the Design Tone

One of the defining features in the original Park Imperial South condos was the oven hood in the kitchen, which was a Robin’s Egg Blue color.

Comments Saguil, “The oven hood was very unique in a space-age or Cadillac fin way. In fact, the architect, Barry Berkus, only designed it for this project at Park Imperial South and another development in Palm Springs called Merito Manor.”

When Mr. Mann’s Design took on the renovation project, the hood was missing from the kitchen.

According to Saguil, “By serendipity, a friend of a friend of a friend knew someone at Merito Manor who was getting rid of theirs. So, we procured that hood.”

The hood was painted an unattractive brown and left a lot to be desired when it came to aesthetics. Saguil found an auto body shop that powder coated the hood to the original Robin’s Egg Blue. The hood formed the basis of the color choices throughout the condo, which is awash in vibrant, cheerful yellows and blues.

A Kitchen With the Perfect Pop of Color

For the kitchen, Saguil selected Northstar retro-inspired appliances from Elmira Stove Works – including an electric stove, fridge, microwave and dishwasher panel. He had purchased a Northstar stove and dishwasher panel for another renovation a decade earlier and remembered that Elmira offered appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue, which perfectly matched the color of the oven hood.

Says Saguil, “Retro appliances, although not necessarily 1960’s period pieces, matched the look and feel of the condo perfectly. Plus, I was pleased with the functionality and modern operability of Northstar appliances.”

In the kitchen, tall, angular windows flood the space with light, immediately bestowing a sunny disposition on anyone who enters.

Notes Saguil, “There is great flow to the kitchen. It naturally draws you in because the oven hood is so eye-catching. The appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue are also unique and make a statement. There is a lot of visual interest and uniformity, which really ties together the space.”

The retro redesign created a free-flowing, functional and unique residence while enhancing the modern kitchen area and making it a main feature of the home. Visitors love the space as soon as they enter.

“The kitchen is iconic, yet modern, and always happy. The first thing people do when they see it is smile,” says Saguil.

Read more about the condo.

Check out retro-inspired appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue and eight other not-so-standard colors.

All images courtesy of Ruben Vargas Jr.

Blast from the Past: Five Fads from the Fabulous 50s

As each decade goes by, we tend to reminisce over those times long forgotten. Longing for the comfort of the past, our minds are drawn to the “Good Ole Days.” When we think of the 1950s, we typically think of a fun and carefree time when things were simpler. While that may be true, the 50s were definitely ahead of the curve in terms of fashion and fads, many of which are being revived today as a form of retro culture.

Following are a few of our faves.

Female car hop roller skating at 1950s drive in restaurant
  • Carhops: Did a girl wearing roller skates precariously balancing a tray with a burger and shake immediately come to mind? Carhops were the most common way of getting fast food in the 50s. This novel approach to food delivery was created after many business owners decided to take advantage of the number of people who preferred to eat in their cars rather than sit in a restaurant. After ordering their food, customers waiting to take a bite of a delicious burger would park outside the restaurant and a waitress would skate to their car to serve them.
Marilyn Monroe 1950s cat eye glasses
  • Cat Eye Glasses: Inspired by masks that she admired during visits to Venice, Italy, socialite Altina Schinasi designed the first cat eye glasses in the 1930s after noting the lack of stylish options for women. These now retro-looking “spectacles” grew increasingly popular in the 50s after stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn began to flaunt this chic, eye-catching style in their films.
Young man with 1950s letter jacket and young woman
  • Letterman Jackets: Worn by school athletes, letterman jackets traditionally displayed the wearer’s name, the school mascot and a varsity letter. Though originally sported as a form of school spirit and admiration, girls began to wear their boyfriends’ jackets to show off their relationship with the school’s most popular “jocks.” This trend gained popularity through stars like James Dean and Elvis Presley, who frequently donned the highly coveted jackets.
Teenagers dancing at 1950s malt shop
  • Soda Shops: Also called malt shops, soda shops were the most popular gathering spots for 1950s youth. Renowned for their scarlet leather spinning bar stools, colorful booths and lively jukeboxes blasting the latest tunes, soda shops were the place to hang out and be seen. Many teenagers and young adults eagerly anticipated taking a spin on the dance floor with their friends or dates, only stopping long enough to grab a soft drink, root beer float or juicy burger.
Fuzzy dice in 1950s car
  • Fuzzy Dice: When seeinga pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror of a car, most people associate the iconic adornment with the style and charm of the 50s. Originally, however, this emblem of retro flair was a symbol of fortune for World War II fighter pilots. These “flyboys” would hang a pair of dice on their instrument panel with seven pips (dots) facing them, as a sign of good luck.

Feeling nostalgic? Why not take a trip “back to the 50s?” And, if you’re looking to add a little retro style to your kitchen, game room or man cave, you might want to consider 50s-inspired Northstar appliances!

How to Create a Game Room That Scores Big

A game room is a great addition to any home – especially during this time of sheltering in place. Most people are looking for diversions and entertainment in their own space, and creating a retreat to enjoy your family’s favorite games is the perfect antidote. Whether you are interested in spending game time with your family or enjoying a little solo play, it’s important to do it right. Here are some great tips to make sure your game room has a winning design. 

Pick the Right Room

Ideally, you should have a dedicated space for your game room. You need somewhere with enough room for all your gaming equipment and accessories along with whatever extras you may want to add – such as appliances, for example. Of course, make sure your space is large enough to accommodate your family and – once social distancing has ended – friends. Basements and garages are ideal spaces. However, they may need a “new look” to fit the part of your ultimate game room. 

Renovate & Decorate 

First things first… Clean your space from top to bottom. This is a crucial step if you are renovating a basement or garage. Next, choose your color palette. Decide whether you want a bright and airy space or something more dramatic. You might even consider adding paneling or a wood plank accent wall – a perfect spot for a dart board. If you are passionate about a certain sports team, incorporate the team’s colors and memorabilia throughout the game room. For a more understated space, choose neutral colors and make your room pop with gaming-inspired decor such as posters of your favorite arcade or video games. And, don’t forget about lighting. Choose an inviting mix of different lights to set the perfect ambiance for your room. 

Consider Going Retro

What’s your theme? No doubt, one of the most popular themes for a game room is retro. From old-school arcade games, like Mr. Pac-Man, to vintage signage and posters, to retro appliances, this theme is by far the most fun and nostalgic. And, what better way to enhance your retro theme than to add a Northstar Keg Fridge to your game room or man cave? The kegerator is the pinnacle of coolness that will have friends and neighbors flocking to your home to enjoy their favorite beer on tap. Models are uniquely appointed with smooth lines and chrome accents that have given the Northstar line its reputation for being a cut above the rest. Six models are available in nine standard colors. Or, you can match your favorite team’s colors with an almost unlimited selection of custom colors.

Turn up the Volume (Quietly) 

Soundproofing is a must to get the full experience of a gaming room – not only to avoid disturbing others in your household, but also to improve the sound quality inside the room. Audio enhances the overall gaming experience and soundproofing helps to enhance the quality and clarity. That means more thrills and excitement! Luckily, common household materials such as thick carpets and wall-mounted acoustic panels make for excellent, affordable soundproofing.

Bring in the Gaming Equipment 

Once your room is set up with the perfect decor, it’s time to bring in the gaming equipment. Make sure you take the time to prepare the proper layout to optimize your space and create good flow. From where you place furniture and equipment, to where the cables for your electronics pass through, everything should be in just the right spot to bring out the best in the room’s setting. 

Design Tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative! This is your personalized space where you can enjoy all your favorite games and create new memories with your family. After all, an evening full of ‘fun and games’ is not just meant for kids, and – with your ultimate game room – everyone will be entertained in style. 

Looking for the perfect fridge for your game room or man cave? Check out the Northstar Keg Fridge!

An Island Retreat With a Penchant for Nostalgia

When former CPAs Ben ten Haaf and his wife Keren relocated from Toledo, Ohio to Anna Maria Island, Florida, they set their sights on creating a boutique vacation rental company. Since 1985, the ten Haaf family has had ties to Manatee County (where Anna Maria Island is located), beginning when their grandmother moved to the area, and followed by the arrival of Ben’s parents in 2006. The first cottage, “Flip Flop” was created as a place for family to stay when visiting, and was their first experience with the retro style.

During the economic downturn of 2008, the couple took advantage of the opportunity to buy a group of seven duplex properties located near the Gulf of Mexico. It was the purchase of these properties that resulted in the establishment of their rental company – named Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat after their first daughter – which they’ve owned for the past seven years.

Says ten Haaf, “We were a young family at the time, with one child, and renovating and renting beach cottages gave us the time we needed to create a better-balanced life.”

Among the available rentals at Lizzie Lu’s are several sets of duplex cottages, which the couple has extensively overhauled, or constructed.

“Our family started 10 years ago with the Flip Flop cottage, and we have continued to try to maintain the ‘Old Florida’ feel that Anna Maria Island is known for. Many of the homes had a very retro, 1970s look – like you were at the beach but stepping back in time. So we decided to keep a nostalgic vintage theme, but refresh it.”

As part of that refresh, the ten Haafs updated the kitchens in each of the cottages. After considering other brands of retro appliances, the couple selected Northstar appliances from Elmira Stove Works.

Limbo Cottage

Added ten Haaf, “We really liked the Northstar line because you could get the whole coordinating suite. We were impressed with the way the line tied together all of the appliances very nicely.”

The couple also appreciated that Elmira offered refrigerators in different styles and sizes, along with all-electric ranges, since they don’t have gas on the island.

Each cottage features a different color theme and is adorned in a mix of soft pastels and sunny hues. Boasting names such as Flip Flop, Gumbo, Limbo, Lemon and Lime, the cottages include appliances ranging in color from Robin’s Egg Blue to Buttercup Yellow to Mint Green, and even Flamingo Pink.

Lemon Cottage

“We enjoy the modern features and functionality of the Northstar appliances. But, most of all, we love the variety of colors and the distinctive styling, including the chrome accents and rounded edges,” noted ten Haaf. “The appliances add a new flavor to a kitchen and create a distinctive focal point.”

Many of the guests who stay at Lizzie Lu’s are drawn to the sense of nostalgia they get when they walk through the doors of the cottages. Not only do the cottages feature retro appliances, but they also include special touches such as 50s style barstools and booths.

“A lot of people come back to stay again and again. Our guests really like the kitchens, which complete the retro look and add to the overall nostalgic experience. The appliances make a statement and help our properties stand out from the other homes in the area.”

Gumbo Cottage

The ten Haafs are in the process of building four additional two-bedroom cottages – Salt and Sand, and two yet-to-be-named properties – each of which will include a full suite of Northstar appliances.

“The design inspiration for the new additions is Key West style, which will be nicely complemented by the retro style appliances,” said ten Haaf.

Offering the perfect mix of modern conveniences and old world charm, Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat promises a truly unique vacation experience. Who’s ready to pack their bags!  

Learn more about Northstar retro appliances.

On Valentine’s Day, Think Red…and Pink

Red is such an eye-catching color – imagine red stop signs and exit signs, red fire trucks, and even red appliances. They all make you take a second look. This vibrant hue is most often associated with love (heart) and survival (the Red Cross), and symbolizes strength and power. However, it can also be extremely vulnerable.

There is no other time of the year during which red makes as many appearances as on Valentine’s day. From red roses to ruby-hued boxes of chocolate, red captures the day.

Now you might wonder, why would I want to have this color in my kitchen? Aside from the beautiful bold look, red is also known to stimulate the appetite. Think about how many foods we love to eat that are red – apples, tomatoes, peppers, berries, watermelon, and too many others to mention.

Whether you gravitate toward modern, retro, farmhouse, rustic or eclectic style, red appliances complement a wide variety of aesthetics and kitchen designs. You can spice up your space with an Elmira Northstar appliance (or two) in Candy Red or an Antique range in Cayenne Red, which will add the perfect pop of color and bring your kitchen to life. This energizing hue could be just the recipe you’ve been looking for, especially if you use your kitchen to host and entertain.

If red isn’t quite your style, consider red’s softer cousin – pink. This inviting hue is romantic and nurturing without being over the top. There is nothing better than enjoying a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with that special someone in your kitchen adorned with touches of pink. How about in the winter, walking in the house from the cold weather feeling the warmth from the pink in your kitchen, and making yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate? Pink is soothing and replenishing, and makes a great accent color for any kitchen.

Both red and pink work with a wide range of finishes and colors, allowing you to express your personal style in the kitchen while enjoying a splash of color that will not only brighten your mood but transform your space.

Like colorful appliances, but not a fan of red or pink? In addition to Candy Red, the Northstar line is offered in eight other “not so standard” colors, including Robin’s Egg Blue, Mint Green, Buttercup Yellow, Tropical Blue, Black, White, Bisque and Quicksilver – along with more than 1,000 custom colors. Check out all of our inspiring appliance options.

Taking Cues from a Classic Hue

The Pantone Color Institute has announced its 2020 Color of the Year – Classic Blue, which is described by Pantone as “a timeless and enduring hue elegant in its simplicity. Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

A Solid Foundation

In contrast to Living Coral, the 2019 Color of the Year, Classic Blue is at once calming and understated, inviting deeper reflection and opening up to new possibilities. This elegant hue can be incorporated in the home in a number of ways – from subtle accents such as pillows, throws and wall art to more adventurous expressions such as furniture and statement walls.

Cooking up Style

The trend of using color in kitchen design will continue into 2020 and beyond. And, what better way to inject a pop of color into a kitchen space than with a splash of Classic Blue? This evocative shade of blue can be paired with a spectrum of warm and cool hues to create unique color combinations and tonal statements that catch the eye without being too bold.

Adding a range or fridge – or entire suite of appliances – in Classic Blue can transform an ordinary kitchen into a space with take-notice style. Elmira’s retro-inspired Northstar and Antique lines are both available in Classic Blue as a custom color.

Start off 2020 in style with Elmira appliances. Classic Blue not your hue? We’ve got more than a thousand standard and custom colors to choose from to create your dream kitchen! 

‘Tis the Season – Holiday Celebrations Around the World

With the holiday season upon us, many families are putting up trees and hanging ornaments to celebrate Christmas or preparing to light candles for Hanukkah. But, there are many unique traditions celebrated around the world during the winter months. Following are just a few variations on the traditional holiday season.

Night of the Radishes – Mexico
Beginning on December 23rd – and celebrated over the course of three days – Oaxaca, Mexico presents one of the most impressive showcases of carved vegetables in the world. Intricately-detailed miniature exhibits made of radishes, which are grown especially for the event, show the Nativity scene and other events from Mexican folklore. Originally performed by shopkeepers to entice people into their stores, radish carving is now an annual tradition.

Saint Lucia Day – Sweden and Norway
Each year, on December 13th, Sweden and Norway celebrate a festival of lights. Seen as the start of the Christmas season, this festival and feast commemorates Saint Lucy, who brought food and protection during a time of persecution. Girls dress in white gowns and red sashes and wear wreaths of candles on their heads. They visit local hospitals and homeless shelters to deliver treats, while people sing songs and perform group dances in the street.

La Befana – Italy
In Italy, Santa Claus is not the main attraction. Instead, a kind old witch known as Befana distributes gifts. On January 5th, or the eve of Epiphany, parents leave Befana a glass of wine and a plate of broccoli with spiced sausage. According to tradition, the good witch flies around on her broom and enters homes through a chimney, bringing toys, clothing and candy to deserving children. On January 6th, the children wake up to find the gifts in their stockings.

Kwanzaa – United States
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals. From December 26th to January 1st, millions of African Americans adorn themselves in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara to celebrate family life, community and unity.

KFC Dinner – Japan
In Japan, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) on December 25th in place of a homemade Christmas dinner is a longstanding tradition. The fried chicken is so popular that customers are asked to place their orders at least two months prior to Christmas. The feast had its beginnings in 1974 when it was offered to visitors to Japan who wanted a dinner resembling a traditional holiday meal. The idea also appealed to locals, and is still practiced 40 years later.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, we wish you and your family season’s greetings and good cheer!