The 25 Worst Christmas Traditions of All Time
These terrible holiday traditions definitely belong on the naughty list.
As Andy Williams once famously sang, Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Except, you know, when it’s not. There’s a lot about the holiday season to love: The presents, the lights, the carols, celebrating with friends and family, drinking too much glögg. We’re not Scrooge. But some Christmas traditions need to be retired—and sooner than later.
Here are 22 traditions that people across the country (and sometimes the world) continue to celebrate every December, even when they probably shouldn’t.
Elf on the Shelf
It wasn’t sinister enough that Santa knows when we’re sleeping and when we’re awake, now he sends an elf to live in our house for a whole month and watch us creepily like some kind of peeping tom? Yeah, no thanks, we’ll pass.
If “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is to be believed, figgy pudding is so delicious that carolers demand the dessert at every house they visit and refuse to stop “till we get some.” But have you ever tried figgy pudding? It’s mostly booze. Maybe that’s why the carolers in the song are so aggressively festive. They’re all drunk.
Never forget the real meaning of Christmas: Spending exactly $20 on a gift, something that doesn’t look too cheap but also doesn’t look too expensive, for a co-worker you barely know.
Christmas trees that aren’t green
A tree should look like it grew in a forest on planet Earth, not in a Dr. Seuss book.
Holiday airline travel
That song “There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays” forgets to mention what a monumental pain in the rear it is to fly anywhere this time of year. Huge lines, weather delays, screaming kids, cramped planes.
Wouldn’t we all be happier if the carol was title “There’s No Place Like Skipping the Airport Altogether For the Holidays”? Yes, yes we would.
The Christmas family newsletter
What is it about Christmas that makes everybody think we want to hear the minutiae of their immediate family? We’re happy that you’re happy, but we don’t have the time or interest in reading a two page, single-spaced essay about how your second cousin lost his job, you got new aluminum siding for the house, and you’re going to be a grandparent again.
A Santa or reindeer on your front lawn is weird enough, but if it’s blown up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving parade float, you’ve officially gone too far.
Any Christmas specials that aren’t A Charlie Brown Christmas or don’t use claymation
We have enough Christmas specials already, thank you very much. (We’re looking at you, Gwen Stefani’s You Make it Feel Like Christmas.)
Over-romanticizing a White Christmas
Snow is pretty, but it’s also a huge pain. Shoveling yourself out of your own home is no way to live. And have we mentioned it’s really, really cold?
Make a choice. If you want fruit, have some fruit. If you want cake, have a cake. But put those two things together and bake ‘em till they’re the consistency of a brick, and what you’ve got is the worst thing to happen to Christmas since the Grinch.
If there’s a fat bearded guy at the mall inviting children to sit on his lap, that’s somebody you should be reporting to the authorities, not lining up to visit.
Underwear as a real gift
No. Just not. Not even as a joke. And that includes socks, too. What kind of monster gives socks or underwear as a gift? Everybody buys their own underwear.
Fake fireplaces on TV
You’re not fooling anybody. You can’t get a proper Yule Log with a cable subscription. It requires an axe and matches and a real fireplace and possible smoke inhalation.
Never-ending holiday sales events
Do all commercials have to get so screamy during December? We get it, you’re enthusiastic about your holiday sales, and they’re ENDING SOON SO ORDER NOW!! We heard you the first time, and we still don’t believe you. All of December is one big holiday sale.
Excessively quoting from the Will Ferrell movie Elf as if you think you’re the only person who’s seen it
Not that it isn’t hilarious when you start screaming “You sit on a throne of lies!” Or “I am a cotton-headed ninny-muggins!” But please don’t pretend we’re hearing those lines for the first time. Or that we wouldn’t rather be hearing them from Will Ferrell.
Tacky Nativity scenes
We’re not claiming to be Bible experts, but we’re pretty sure that Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Mario & Luigi from the video games weren’t at the original Nativity.
Call us old-fashioned, but when a large group of strangers knocks on our front door in the middle of the night and demands to serenade us, our first instinct isn’t, “Well we should definitely open the door and say hello.” No, that’s when we turn out all the lights and call the police.
Getting dressed up for Christmas dinner
We thought the whole point of a holiday is that you didn’t have to put on a jacket and tie!
That Paul McCartney Christmas song
Why does this song keep coming back, year after year? “Wonderful Christmas Time” sounds like the former Beatle recorded it in a hurry, with a Casio keyboard and whatever lyrics came to him off the top of his head. “Simply… having…” ENOUGH OF THIS SONG!
Watching The Nutcracker
If you’ve seen the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” once, you’ve seen it enough for a lifetime.
Fighting about whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
Let’s just agree to disagree and get back to the gift-giving, okay?
Hiding the Christmas pickle
While decorating the Christmas tree is an undeniably fun way to get in the holiday spirit, the Christmas pickle is one holiday tradition it’s hard to get behind. Not only does the Christmas pickle have a dubious origin story—it’s purportedly a based on a German tradition, though there’s little evidence to back this up—it’s also just another way to justify overindulging kids at the holidays. For many families, whoever finds the hidden pickle on the tree gets an extra present, or, in some cases, cash—not something particularly in line with the true spirit of the season.
Half of the reason people love the holiday season is that those days off provide workers much-needed respite from the tediousness of office life. However, for anyone forced to participate in an annual office party, that sweet, sweet break from cubicle life is threatened by forced socialization outside the office with your coworkers, who inevitably drink too much, awkwardly flirt with one another, and call in “sick” the following day.
There’s no other time of year when it would be even remotely acceptable to drink what amounts to a sugar-filled, brandy-soaked mug of omelet ingredients. And while getting this heavy-cream-laden holiday drink from your local store is icky enough as it is, at least most store-bought varieties are pasteurized. Your aunt Linda’s homemade batch? Probably not as safe as you think—and potentially a good way to spend the rest of the holiday season recovering from salmonella poisoning.
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