5 Traditions That Make Pittsburgh Unique

People in Pittsburgh (fondly referred to as “the Burgh” by locals) do things just a bit differently. Whether it's putting french fries on sandwiches or using certain words and phrases that only locals can understand, Pittsburghers are as unique as their city. 

Pittsburgh's colorful history and ethnic diversity mean that the city is home to more than a few wonderfully distinct traditions. Much like the celebrated “Tree of Lights” -- a holiday symbol that famously stood in Point State Park for more than 30 years -- these traditions have a powerful sense of community, sentiment and pride behind them. 

 

Pittsburgh Traditions Based Around Food 

When it comes to food, Pittsburghers aren't shy. There is always plenty of hearty food on the menu. 

 

Cookie Tables 

A fixture at church socials, PTA meetings, and, of course, weddings, cookie tables are a cherished Steel City tradition that spans generations. People in other cities may serve cookies at functions, but Pittsburgh's cookie tables take it to the next level. Wherever there's a cookie table, guests are sure to overload them with dozens of their best homemade treats.  

 

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The Feast of the Seven Fishes 

The long-standing Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes may have gone out of fashion in Italy, but it's alive and well in Pittsburgh. Throughout the month of December, restaurants all over the city offer set menus with seven different seafood-based dishes. Although the celebration has religious origins, it's mostly now known for being a great meal. 

 

Traditions in Pittsburgh Surrounding Holidays and Family 

Families are close in the Burgh, and the holidays are the perfect time for everyone to get together and have a little fun. 

 

First Night 

Many people celebrate New Year's Eve, but few cities rival Pittsburgh’s festivities. Since 1994, First Night has been the place to welcome in the new year. The festival has something for everyone, including various shows, food, fireworks and fun. To cap off the evening, the famed Future of Pittsburgh Ball rises to ring in the new year as a sign of the city's never-ending optimism. 

 

Holiday Lights at Kennywood 

While most amusement parks close down when the weather turns cold, Kennywood, a historic park just outside of Pittsburgh, stays open for its annual Holiday Lights event. Park visitors can tour seasonal decorations, watch shows, play games in the arcade, go on select rides and even have dinner with Santa! 

 

Competition Brings Pittsburghers Together 

Known as the City of Champions, Pittsburgh has a long and storied history when it comes to sports. It’s no secret that Pittsburghers near and far love their hometown heroes. 

 

The Terrible Towel 

Anyone who's seen a Pittsburgh Steelers game has witnessed The Terrible Towel in action. Swinging from the hands of thousands of fans, the yellow towel has become an icon of Steelers football since the late Myron Cope, a beloved team broadcaster, introduced the idea in 1975.  

Today, the towel is not only a rallying cry at games but also a sign of being a true Pittsburgher. Many people have taken photos with the towel all over the world, including the Great Wall of China and the summit of Mount Everest.   

 

Even in a city that loves its history, traditions don't last forever. Long-standing customs change over time or disappear as the years roll by. One of the most beloved Pittsburgh holiday traditions, the Tree of Lights, went dark for good earlier this year. That’s why we need your help to create a new Pittsburgh tradition that can be celebrated for years to come. 

Submit your ideas about how we can reimagine the “Duquesne Light Company Tree of Lights” in this crowdsourcing challenge on HeroX. 

 

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