People Break Down Their Family's Best Unspoken Traditions
Image by Emily Heidt from Pixabay

This time of year, many families take part in their respective holiday traditions.

Our family's festive ritual was nothing unique, but special to us nonetheless.

Now, we were not a fancy family and we hardly went out for dinners – save for the occasional trips to the golden arches.

But when we went out for our annual Christmas Eve dinners at Lawry's Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, we spared no expense.

We could always count on the Dickensian carolers to entertain us in the enormous dining area festooned with garlands and wreaths as we feasted – me with au jus reliably dripping down my chin.

That was how we rolled on Christmas Eve.

Curious about other families, Redditor TheAwesomeJunk asked:

"What is your family's unspoken tradition?"

Three-Hour Gift-Opening Session

"Even though there are numerous Christmas presents under the tree, the family tradition is this:"

"Only one present can be opened at a time so that everyone in the room can see what the other person received."

"It makes the gift-opening session last up to 3 hours, which sometimes seems like an eternity when everyone is hungry and wanting to have Christmas dinner."


Make Way For Santa

"All 'children' must vacate the living room at 9 pm on Christmas Eve so 'Santa' can put out the gifts."

"The youngest 'child' is 30, but it makes my mother happy to put out the gifts and have us surprised on Christmas morning."


Kids Go First

"We open ours in the morning. The kids like to dish the presents out to everyone from under the tree and we have our own piles then each person opens their presents in turn, usually the kids first. We only have Christmas day the four of us and told everyone else when we first had the kids that we won't see anyone else on Xmas day to save potential arguments with whose turn it is. We then chill out until dinner which we have about 3pm."


Leaving A Mark

"When someone in the family turns 16, they have to sign underneath my grandmother's kitchen table. It has to be something witty/funny/personal and then their name and the date. Of course, those who 'join' the family late (by marriage/long-term relationship or even just very good friends who have been to a family function or two) sign whenever they're inducted. It's a big deal and everyone takes pictures. Very neat to go under the table from time to time and see some of the faded sayings from old family/friends who are not with us anymore (either from passing on or falling out). All the grandkids looked forward to turning 16 so we could finally add our names under the table."

"I wonder who will get it when Grandma passes."


On Noche Buena

"Christmas Eve dinner is always after 10 pm. I don't know why but it always is. If you're Cuban, you know the tradition of la caja china on Noche Buena. My uncle always does the pig roast and even though he claims he starts early every year, we never eat earlier than 10 pm. It's rare. Last year we didn't eat til almost 2 am and we didn't leave his house until 4. It's always worth the wait though. That and my grandmas Thanksgiving turkey are both the best dinners each year."


Tasty Treat

"Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Been doing it for 32 years. I'm sad that I can't visit my parents this Christmas due to the risks involved."


"It's A Book!"

"One non-close-family gift can be opened on Christmas eve. This usually turns out to be something a bit rubbish."

"All presents get opened before breakfast on Christmas day. We take turns. If (when) you open booze the bottle must be opened immediately and then passed to whoever also drinks to try."

"Brother gets drunk and starts a fight or skips actual Christmas dinner (dinner is at lunch time)."

"Pretty much every gift gets a little squeeze and an exclamation of 'it's a book!' (last year I did this with a clearly not-a-book mug and there was a tiny book hidden inside it - well done dad)."


Oh, Mom

"No matter how many times we get her gifts, no matter the quality or quantity of said gifts, my mom will go through 20 minutes of: 'This is too much! Why did y'all do all this? I didn't get y'all anything this nice!'"

"For the past few years we start saying it all before she can, but she still keeps doing it."


In Iceland

"I live in Iceland and there we traditionally open the gifts after dinner on Christmas Eve. Aaaaallllll dishes, cutlery and everything must be HAND WASHED after dinner before we get to open the presents."


Casual Therapy

"Getting high/drunk and having intimate conversations that end up really therapeutic."


"Forced Perspective"

"We are huge fans of the Disney Parks and we go all the time. A common method they use to make things look taller (Like the castle) is forced perspective, which is basically trying to orient the angle of which you see an object to give the illusion that it's taller than it actually is, just to increase immersion. Also Florida has a rule where any building over 200 feet tall needs lights on top of it for planes to see, and Disney wouldn't want to do that. My grandfather is very supportive about this and one Thanksgiving he claimed to have one fact/trivia that none of us would know about the Disney Parks, and then went on a 10 minute rant about forced perspective that he probably found on Google, while we all acted amazed. Now whenever the words 'forced perspective' come up, or if we are in the parks and encounter a building that uses it, we all act amazed, even though it's one of the most basic facts someone who is really into the architecture of Disney Parks would know."



That my uncle will always carry a dirty tissue in his left back pocket, "Just for emergencies." There has not yet been an emergency where a dirty tissue was needed.


Taking Turns

At Christmas we take ages to open presents (6 of us).

Starts with mum/dad picking a present at random from under the tree and giving it to person on label. Person opens it and everyone has to wait until they're done and then they pick another gift (can't be another one of their own) and vice versa. I actually quite like it



we have this pickle ornament which we hide in the tree and the person who finds it gets to open the first present


Every single time 

Everytime we all meet up, everybody starts talking about politics and half an hour later we all hate each other. This is usually fixed with alcohol later.


In a galaxy far away

My family always watches the Star Wars series at Christmas time. It isn't really something we acknowledge, we just do it.


All jokes

While opening gifts, if someone is taking a while/struggling to get a gift open, someone else yells "HURRY UP, THE PUPPY CAN'T BREATHE IN THERE!"

Going strong for at least 25 years.


Dinner's served

The cook serves him/herself last. I thought this was a common thing, but the number of times that guests will insist that I get my plate before them ("You go ahead, you cooked!") makes me think otherwise.


Wrap it up

Every Christmas someone gets to spend extra time unwrapping their 'special' gift. This is because wrapping just gets layered on, usually tripling the size. It also isn't limited to just wrapping paper layers, duck tape is common. I also have once created a cage of hot glue for a smaller gift.

This year my sister is the lucky victim. She's getting some pots and pans per request, however every piece is getting individually wrapped at least once before being put in a plastic tub to also be wrapped.


Oh lord

Alternating between who has the "job" of sitting next to my dad in church and nudging him every time he starts to snore


Cat's out of the bag

If the cat is on you, you're not expected to move (doing the washing up / taking out the rubbish and so on)


Take prisoners 

During the Christmas dinner, noone can leave the table. I heard that it´s a custom in other households as well, but my mom takes it extremely seriously. Everything must be within arm´s reach of someone sitting behind the table. Since most of the time we spend Christmas at my grandma´s place, where the living room is quite small, we put when we can on the table, and the rest is on a small side table, or on the bed and sofa. Also, before the dinner, we take turns on the toilet, and try to do both number 1 and 2 even if we don´t feel like it.

Also, back when we could (when everyone had jobs that would allow them to take vacation for Christmas), all of my mom´s siblings would gather at grandma´s place. Since me & sister found out the truth pretty early on in our lives, we had the duty to take them out to wait for Jesus to come around (in Slovakia we don´t have Santa, we have Jesus, holy f*ck catholicism is wild). We would light sparklers and stick them in the snow outside of the house while the elders put the presents under the tree (I once fell into a drain full of snow, my shoes were full of sewage water, and I had only my head sticking out of the snow). Then, some elder would ring a bell from inside the house, and we´d run in.



We hug each other every single morning, if we're all at home. You could be mad, happy, grumpy, dying, doesn't matter. You get hugs. If we have people over, well, they get hugs too.


Stocking stuffers

Skipping it this year but in the past The whole family would bring all their presents over to whoever had the biggest living room at the time and put the gifts under THAT tree on Christmas Eve.

At Christmas, the oldest child (the duty passes to someone else once you hit like 17) sits at the bottom of the tree and distributes the gifts to everyone (throwing gifts is only acceptable if you KNOW the gift isn't fragile, and the receivers capable of catching it).


Sounds like a blast 

Every New Years Eve we have a family bottle rocket fight. The youngest one of us is 28. My dad is 60. All adults who know better. My mother does not like fireworks at all, and every year we try to get her to join. My dad always yells from the yard that if she doesn't come out and join the fight then we are going to bring the fight inside to her. So far she has called his bluff.

But for real, nothing brings a family together like shooting consumer-grade explosives at each other.


Let them have cake

12 layer chocolate cakes are the only "acceptable" birthday cakes and you never tell which baker you got to make it- everyone has their own secret baker. ~never reveal your sources~


Feeling lucky

Everyone gets scratch offs in their Christmas stockings and we have to do those first before anything else on Christmas. It has been this way since my earliest Christmas memories.


Playing dress up

My grandmother has been forcing me and my two cousins to do a corny Christmas pageant. I think the other two like it because they are sisters and they are thirst for attention. But I am an only child and hate attention. She forced us to start this when I was like two. I am now 12 and I am t he middle cousin. I just hate it


Dinner time

A game of nose-goes at dinner where we talk about what the best/worst part of our day was. The person who loses nose goes then gets to say it next at any time in any discrete way.


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