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We all party in different ways when the holidays roll around. No matter what you celebrate, your family members probably have a unique (read: weird) tradition that they rope everyone into carrying out year after year. Sure, they might be a little bit embarrassing, but these rituals are what make the holiday season so much fun.
The folks at New York Life Insurance Company asked people to share their family traditions. Check out their stories below! Who knows? You might even relate to a few of them.
1. Swedish Smorgasbord
“One year, my family decided to do a Swedish Smorgasbord, which was a tradition my grandma’s family used to do every year. Basically, we had a multi-course meal with foods like pickled herring, meatballs, potatoes, and creamed fish. We finished with rice pudding that had a single almond mixed in. Whoever found the almond in their dish would have good luck for the rest of the year!”
2. A German Christmas
“My family is very German. When I was little, I would put my slippers outside of my bedroom door, and teeny-tiny shoe elves would put candy in them. It was very cool of those shoe elves to help me out like that.”
3. Holidays the Greek Way
“When I was young, my siblings and I were always excited about Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. But at our house, we didn’t leave him milk and cookies. My mom would say that Santa probably got bored of having only milk and cookies, and that made a lot of sense to us. We would leave Ouzo (a Greek drink) and feta cheese by the fireplace instead. Hopefully Santa didn’t have any trouble navigating the sled after drinking that!”
4. The Kind of Friend You Want in Your Life
“On the first day of Hanukkah, I invite over all my friends — Jewish or not — for a latke party. I make lots of kinds: a traditional family recipe, sweet potato latkes, and even a Sriracha version.”
5. The Gift of Giving
“My great-great-grandparents grew up very poor in Ireland. While we’ve definitely given into the lavishness of the season over the years, we still make sure that everyone takes turns opening presents. The kids have to distribute the presents from under the tree and wait patiently for the adults to open theirs. It’s small, but it makes everyone focus on each and every present for the gift that it is.”
6. Chowing Down Italian Style
“Christmas Eve is always spent with my Italian side of the family. Per Catholic tradition, we can’t serve any meat. This is problematic for a family that pretty much sweats fully formed meatballs. To compensate, we go all out in a fish direction. Lobster, crabcakes, stuffed clams, linguine with clam sauce, anchovies on orange slices, calamari, shrimp cocktail, and Manhattan clam chowder. We eat all of those things, and more that I’ve forgotten.”
7. A Chinese Take on Turkey
“My family is Chinese, and I have yet to taste a turkey that’s as good as my parents’ turkey. It’s brined with star anise and cloves, and then roasted with a stuffing made of sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, and Chinese sausage. So much tastier than that bland, Pilgrim-style stuff.”
8. Christmas Pickles
“My family is German, so every year after all the gifts have been given and the wassail has sailed into our bellies, a good ol’ game of ‘Find the Pickle’ commences. My sister and I hunt around the living room like madmen trying to find the pickle ornament. The person who finds it is given an extra gift. Supposedly, this is not a German tradition. It was most likely created by a crafty ornament salesman who was tasked with selling pickle ornaments in America. I really love pickles, so I don’t mind.”
9. Toys and Cake
“My family is Mexican, and on January 6, we commemorate Epiphany by having rosca de reyes, which is a delicious cake that’s made with soft bread and garnished with dried and candied fruits. It’s really good, but the real fun isn’t eating it — it’s seeing who will find a small plastic figure that symbolizes Jesus inside the cake. The person who finds the figurine is supposed to throw a big tamale and atole party on February 2 — the día de la Candelaria in México.”
10. The Great Equalizer
“Every year, in British tradition, we all gather around and have an argument with my mum.”
While everyone loves getting presents, making memories is what the holidays are all about. How do you and your loved ones celebrate? Let us know in the comments!