weird holiday traditions 2018 man repeller
Lime Slime For Christmas and Other Holiday Traditions I Want to Try
12.19.18

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s a child, I was obsessed with Christmas. I was also obsessed with Kwanzaa parties. I was obsessed with Hannukah even though we didn’t celebrate it. I was about any December celebration that involved food, season-specific songs and a gift exchange, and by the time I was eight I had basically turned into a sitcom mom, trying to goad my resentful family into as many holiday activities as possible: What if we always listened to The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack as we decorated the tree? Why can’t I continue to go to Breakfast with Santa? I know he’s not real but you get sausage links and patties? Here, I’ve made a gifting matrix of which Beanie Babies my friends still need and which ones I will purchase for them! My organized holiday fervor was such because while our family’s holiday celebrations were lovely, they lacked any recurring traditions.

Guess I’ve always been a tiny bit jealous of families that have more structured celebrations. Which explains why I’ve turned to you, the good and great readership of Man Repeller, to find out what kind of hyper-specific, quirky or just plain lovely traditions you and your families uphold every holiday season. This was not a masochistic endeavor, though, as much as one borne out of genuine curiosity. Do read on to enjoy a delightful plethora of celebratory approaches.


“My parents made up an elaborate story about a fairy who got the world to celebrate my birthday (I’m a Christmas baby) and was convinced Jesus was the name of a spell for lighting lights for far too long (maybe till I was 8?). Forget the sadness of finding out Santa isn’t real, imagine finding out you’re not the reason for an international holiday.”

Susie, 21, London


“My creative and loving single mother and I would have an ‘indoor picnic.’ We would lay a blanket on the floor in front of the television, eat pineapple pizza and watch holiday movies. Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Maggie, 29, Brooklyn


“My grandmother bakes a red velvet cake for baby Jesus and my family sings happy birthday. I was far too old for when I realized that not everyone had a baby Jesus birthday cake.”

Haleigh, 28, Florida


“My parents would (well, they still do) make us put on or hold every gift we received for the holidays. Got five shirts? Put them all on. Some Legos too? Better hold ’em. Two pairs of shoes? One for your feet and another for your hands (put the mittens on your ears). I thought it was a normal thing through uni!”

Colleen, 25, Toronto


“My parents have a beautiful brass menorah in the shape of a tree that had been given to them as a wedding present. As it sat in its velvet box every year, it would develop a green patina that needed to be polished off, which took a long time and was labor intensive because of all of the branches. My parents told me that it was an ancient tradition that the eldest daughter in a family had the responsibility of polishing the menorah before Hanukkah. From the ages of like six to 11, I did that with pride every year. Perhaps too much pride though, because my younger sisters got jealous of my ‘special and sacred’ responsibility. After my 10-year-old sister and I got in a blow-out fight about it, my mother revealed to me that she had made it up in order to trick me into helping out. I have not polished the menorah since then. That ‘responsibility’ has passed to the baby sister!”

Maddie, 25, Phoenix


“With our family and friends we do an Epiphany tombola every year with all the bad gifts we have received. The major prize is an ugly black candle that swaps from family to family each year!”

Alessia, 24, Italy


“We have small presents under the tree from Santa (yep, still from Santa), but our big gifts are given a little differently! Each of our names is attached to a branch on the Christmas tree next to one end of a string. We each take turns following each others’ strings to find our big gift! The strings go all over the house, upstairs and down, and even outside, sometimes across the street. When I turned 16, my string led to our neighbor’s garage, and I was SO PUMPED! And theeeeen — I found a new chest of drawers. Ha! It’s such a fun tradition. Highly recommended.”

Anne Oldon, 33, Denver


“On Thanksgiving we would go over to my grandparent’s house and find gifts on their doorstep from the Great Turkey. That’s right….the Great Turkey.”

Josephine, 23, NYC


“Many years ago, my sister drew an Egyptian Sphinx with Bruce Springsteen’s head and called it ‘Bruce Sphinxteen.’ Now, every December 1, she draws a family member’s name out of a hat and prints the Bruce Sphinxteen image on an article of clothing for that person. The recipient is always a surprise until Christmas Eve, when she gives Bruce to that year’s winner as the first gift of Christmas. It’s always done with great fanfare, not unlike the North Pole scene in The Polar Express.”

Olivia, 28, Kansas City, MO


“Lime Slime: a mix of lime jello made with 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 Sprite (instead of water) then put in a Jello mold to cool and congeal. I thought everyone served this as a palette cleanser at holiday meals, but nope. My dad says this is something his family always made growing up but honestly he could have made the whole thing up. We have tried many different jello flavors (and some creative combinations) but nothing hits the spot like good old lime slime.”

Ellie, 22, NYC


“The gifts from Santa at our house were always unwrapped. My sisters and I thought Santa didn’t want to give the wrong gifts to kids; we thought Santa did this for everyone. Turns out, my parents would run out of tape every year and they made this story up to avoid having to wrap without it. Now we have a wrapping contest on Christmas Eve, the winner is whoever uses the least tape.”

Maggie, 28, Washington, DC


“When my younger brother and I were little, we would decorate our Christmas tree one ornament at a time. The whole activity was quite the ordeal… Years later we found out my mother, who happened to be a visual merchandiser, had a holiday tradition of her own. Every year she would sneak downstairs and completely redecorate our Christmas tree. The next morning she would wake us up and tell us to come look at our beautiful work. I guess we were too young to realize that we hadn’t aced the visual balance of our Christmas tree.”

Kate, 20, NYC


“My entire extended family has a doubles ping pong tournament every year. It’s CUTTHROAT — there is a plaque with winners names engraved going back 20 years.”

Ali, 29, Louisville, KY


“We received carrots and leeks from Santa for not having been good all the time during the year in addition to actual presents.”

Marion, 28, France


“This isn’t technically a holiday tradition, but every time all of my cousins on my mum’s side are together, we do this thing we call a ‘Flubber Competition.’ It involves eating a bowl of jelly with no hands — basically inhaling and slurping like a mad person and the first person to finish wins. My older sister has won every single time, without exception, for the last 2o years.”

Amy, 26, Australia

Illustration via Getty Images.

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