The Daily Gamecock

Column: Spend the holidays in the Carolinas, enjoy local traditions

This holiday season, there's tons to do in the Carolinas, so you can leave the stress of long traveling behind you. In South Carolina, we've got all the right combinations of holiday food, festivities and fun to make this winter break your best one yet.

Southerners and their families come together to celebrate good food and company in traditional style. Southern staples such as pecan pies and oyster roasts make our wintertime that much merrier. 

Oyster roasts are traditionally wintertime, cold-water, get em' before they're gone type of get-togethers. While you can get oysters imported when the water is too warm to pick them, once the holiday season rolls around, it's oyster shucking time. There's nothing better than a local cluster of oysters from a creek nearby. If you’re here for the holidays, make sure to pull up a chair to enjoy this Southern tradition and bring a little cocktail sauce to dip them in. 

If you’re worried about South Carolina not having your ideal holiday attractions, don’t fret — there are tons more to do during wintertime than you think.

Head to Charleston to enjoy the James Island County Park Festival of Lights with friends and family. This light show is open nightly from Nov. 12 through Dec. 31 and features stops along the way to grab a hot cocoa or roast a s'more.

Other fun ways to enjoy this holiday season here include heading to your local indoor ice skating rink, a holiday parade or going to Brookgreen Gardens at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, to experience the Nights of a Thousand Candles. 

If you’re not a fan of below-freezing temperatures and snowdrifts trapping you inside your house, then staying put in the Carolinas might be one of your best bets. Not having a winter-long snow season makes the occasional flurries or a couple of inches of fresh powder all that much sweeter. If you're really looking for snow this holiday season, though, take a day trip to visit Sugar Mountain in North Carolina and hit the slopes.

At USC on Dec. 2, the President's House hosted the Holiday Open House for students. Marissa Buck, an events coordinator for USC's Special Events Office, said the event has been taking place for many years. Buck said it tries to be as inclusive as possible, with decorations for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more.

Third-year public health student Gurujjal Roopra was also at the President's Holiday Open House.

"It's interesting that, we are an immigrant household, but we have a very American Christmas. I think we put up a tree and do the cookies and Santa and everything," Roopra said.

Ceil Huff, a first-year psychology student from Anderson, South Carolina, said she and her family go ice skating and visit the Lights of Hope in Anderson, South Carolina. 

These students are great examples of making the most of all the holidays have to offer in South Carolina without having to travel elsewhere.

When finally getting a well-deserved break, the stress, expense and exhaustion of traveling far away takes away from the relaxation we are supposed to get from winter break.

Traveling has also become dangerous again, as the new omicron variant has been found in the U.S. The New York Times spoke with a travel analyst, Courtney Niebrzydowsk, who said travelers should ask themselves: "Can this travel be postponed?"

Imagine yourself cramped in an airport, plane, hotel or train station along with every other holiday traveler, and a new variant on top of that. This sounds a little less fun, right? That’s why now, more than ever, is a great time to stay put, stay cozy in the Carolinas and skip the travel.

There really is no better place to be during the holiday season than South Carolina, especially if you’re from here. Even if you’re from out-of-state, there’s always a way to make South Carolina feel like home no matter what traditions you have or festivities you partake in.