In some countries this time of year, some people may find a gold or silver coin within a loaf of bread as sign of holiday luck. In others, Saint Nicholas has a naughty counterpart.
Thursday is actually St. Nicholas Day. And while not widely celebrated in the U.S., Susan Ohnoutka and her husband, of Omaha, always mark the day. "We always get little presents for the kids on st. Nicholas day (today), which is what we did as kids. And we have elf on the shelf which is a big deal in our house."
The doll and book combination has been flying off the shelves at SuperTarget, 125th & K. As of Wednesday, there was only one left. "It's getting bigger every year," said Dennis Witas.
"We just started the elf on the shelf this year," said the father of two. "He moves around, and he reports back to Santa every day about how the kids are (behaving)."
Ohnoutka said, "Fred, our elf is kind of ornery. He does things like make angel wings in flower and throw a toilet paper roll down the stairs."
Of course baking is a huge tradition this time of year. Sally Swoboda of Omaha takes it to a more cultural level, maintaining her Norwegian roots through her grandmother's special cookie recipe.
"Every year we make Fatigmann," she said. "You roll it out paper thin, fry it and then you put it in powdered sugar."
Swoboda said her grown children have come to expect it, just as she did when her mother made it. "And then, my mom is gone so I always use her silverware, so then it kind of feels like she's with us."
As for what tradition means to her? "It's just family, I think. Something family does."
Ohnoutka added, "Then the kids can carry it on with their kids." The holidays, she said, just wouldn't be the same without those annual family endeavors.