Some jump up at the crack of dawn and rush to open their presents while enjoying an early-morning mimosa, while others might bide their time and leave their gifts until after breakfast.
There’s debate over whether you eat Christmas lunch or Christmas dinner, and whether that happens at 1pm, 3pm or 5pm. You might gather around the TV with leftovers, chocolates and alcohol in the evening, or head out to visit other family members and play an abundance of Christmas games.
In spite of the differences, however, there are typically a few common themes for every Christmas Day, such as a well-decorated tree, turkey and potatoes, a Christmas cake, twinkly lights and gifts. Many families are satisfied with sticking to these basics, but some mix things up a bit by adding in unusual, memorable traditions of their own.
Fiona Ashlynn from Connecticut celebrated Christmas with her cousins when she was younger. Her cousins have since moved out of state, but their shared Christmases were made particularly memorable by the fact the family always made sure to honour the story behind Christmas: Jesus’s birthday.
After dinner each year, one of Fiona’s family members would produce a birthday cake and a mini Jesus statue to which the group had to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
As Jesus wasn’t around the blow out the candles, Fiona’s younger cousins got to do the honours instead.
Speaking to UNILAD, the 21-year-old recalled:
My cousins who did do this moved out of state years ago, but it happened every time they had Christmas at their house.
I’m not exactly sure why, but after Christmas dinner was eaten and cleaned up, we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before eating dessert. I can’t remember if the birthday cake had ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ written on it, or if it was just a regular cake… but it did have candles.
I think I was so confused as a kid because I only knew of Jesus from going to church and Sunday school, and we did not sing Happy Birthday to him there… Looking back, I still think it’s weird – I’m not against Jesus or anything, but I just don’t think it’s necessary to sing happy birthday to him.
McCade Pearson, from Utah, is more accepting of his family’s unusual festive tradition, which happens every year on Christmas Eve.
Ever since he can remember, McCade and his family have each chosen a dish to contribute to a meal the night before Christmas. There are no rules, meaning no one’s in charge of veg or sides, and instead everyone is free to bring whatever they desire.
McCade’s family members range between children in their early teens to adults in their late 40s, and as a result the Christmas Eve dinner is usually packed with unusual combinations.
In the past they’ve enjoyed the likes of steak and potatoes combined with waffles, jelly, pizza and hot dogs, and some years they’ve been able to indulge in multiple desserts – ‘because who wants to eat real food on Christmas Eve?’
McCade told UNILAD that he enjoys that the meal is largely made up of God-Tier foods, because ‘nothing is a filler’.
No offense to people who like corn or asparagus, but nobody chooses that because it’s nobody’s favourite. It’s always a second or third option, and everything that night is always an option number one.
Again, with eight people, the sixth, seventh and eighth foods are a lot more prominent than they might be at a traditional holiday meal.
McCade typically likes to bring some meat to the table, such as hamburgers, but he usually makes his mind up in the ‘spur of the moment’. Needless to say, it’s one meal that really does have something for everyone.
There’s a whole range of weird and wonderful Christmas traditions out there, and many people have been keen to share their family’s strange habits online. One Twitter user revealed that his family puts up an inflatable dinosaur every year instead of a Christmas tree, while another can always expect to find ‘a pineapple and poptarts’ in their Christmas stocking.
There’s also a family that started gifting presents from ‘celebrities’ after the kids got too old to believe in Santa, and a mum out there who has followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by putting a coconut under the Christmas tree.
Ashley W, from Chicago, enjoys taking part in a tradition that sees her family hide a pickle among the Christmas tree. Ashley and her family aren’t the only ones who do this, and in fact she believes ‘a lot of people seem to do it in the Midwest’, but if you’ve never heard of it before, it’s definitely one of the more unusual Christmas traditions out there.
Each year, a member of Ashley’s family hides the pickle before she, her brother and sister set about trying to find it on Christmas morning. Whoever succeeds is rewarded with an extra, special gift from Santa, and is said to be in for a year of good fortune.
To clarify, the family don’t use a real pickle – Ashley said her mum would ‘rather die’ than ‘befoul’ her tree with such an object. Instead, they have an ornamental pickle that hangs alongside the other Christmas tree ornaments.
How on Earth one goes about getting an ornamental pickle is beyond me, but Ashley’s family have enjoyed making it a part of their Christmas day for the past 16 years, so it’s obviously worth the hassle!
Who knows, we might all have traditions that are considered ‘weird’, but to which we’ve grown too accustomed to question. At the end of the day, Christmas is a time for joy and wonder, and if birthday cakes, pickles and inflatable dinosaurs make that happen, then who are we to judge?
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
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