'We Perform Surgery Every Christmas'—27 Stories Of Strange Families With Weird Traditions
Maybe it's a certain type of food consumed every holiday, or a very specific activity done every week, but each family has their own traditions that are different from the norm, and some are just outright...strange.
Below are stories of strange families with odd traditions that they still follow, as told on AskReddit.
The aunts fight. I mean like literally fight. They will get wasted and just get louder and louder and then one will shout something along the lines of, "You want to back that up?" and then they will go outside and fight.
We all watch and cheer for our favorite aunt to win and sometimes we will even video tape the fight so that we can watch it later and laugh about it. It is pretty normal.
Potatoes For Luck
Whenever anyone of us has to take an exam they take a single uncooked potato with them. This has been tradition ever since my gramps found one in his pocket after acing his driving test.
We're not a particularly superstitious family otherwise, but The Potato has proven itself indispensable.
Ice Cream Entertainment
When I was a kid, the aunts and uncles would get all the kids a gallon of their favorite ice cream on the 4th of July. They would sit us down at a table and give us all our ice cream at the same time.
Here's the fun part. The first kid to tackle the entire gallon of ice cream got $5. This always lead to all of us kids eating ice cream very quickly, and thus getting brain freeze (ice cream headache). Within minutes there are a half dozen children roaming the backyard clutching at their sinuses in pain while adults laugh at them. I'm so glad I finally caught on.
We always call each other after boarding a plane and say, "I REGRET NOTHING!" before hanging up.
My daughter-in-law is horrified by this.
My brother-in-law thought the "three wolf moon" shirts were hilarious so he bought one. My husband also thought it was funny so he bought one with more wolves on it (to up the ante). My sister and I then bought a wolf shirt for my dad so he could fit in with the guys. They wear these shirts in public when they are all together and call themselves the "wolf pack." My parents even named their boat "three wolf moon." My sister and I are both due to have little boys this winter. We are on the hunt for wolf onesies.
Celebrate With The Whole Family
I don't know if it's too over the top, but in my family, we go to the graveyard on Christmas eve and pour the dead relatives favorite drinks on their gravestones. I am from Denmark.
My mom couldn't remember if there was a "mythical creature" associated with birthdays like there is for Christmas, Easter, losing teeth, etc so in a panic she made one up, hoping it was the right one. We grew up with the Birthday Platypus.
My mom's logic after inventing the Birthday Platypus was that she couldn't get rid of him without probably also destroying Santa Claus so she kept him around. It didn't help my brother and I with not being the weird kids at school when asking other kids what the Birthday Platypus brought them. 20+ years later and we still celebrate with the Birthday Platypus.
For the last eight years my brothers and I have surgically removed a cyst from my mother's head every Thanksgiving or Christmas (one year both). It started Thanksgiving 2005, two of my brothers had just finished their first year as surgical technicians, and we had a couple nurses and an anesthetist around. My mother had always grown these horrible cysts on her head, but refused to go get them taken care of because she hated doctors and logic. So that Thanksgiving my oldest brother had enough and after lots of ribbing, convinced mom to let us cut one out. We cut out the first one using discarded medical supplies from the hospital and some local anesthetics that my brother had liberated in anticipation of his plan. The procedure was successful, my youngest brother only passed out once and we've cut one out every year since. Mom no longer looks like she has aliens coming out of her head, and we all get to work out our childhood frustrations by safely and carefully taking a scalpel to her head.
Pretty Sure It's Not A Fry Anymore
It's more between my brother and I than our whole family. Whenever we'd eat at a fast food place we would play "The last fry", and it was just that, the one that ate the last fry won, sometimes we'd hide it for hours then eat it and say "MMMM IT TASTE SOOOO GOOD WHEN IT'S THE LAAAAAST FRY!!!" One time I put my fry in my backpack and found it a couple weeks later, totally won that time.
At Least It Wasn't The Chicken Dance
Every year on Christmas before we could open anything my dad used to make us do the Ninja Turtles dance He would take lead and my sister and I would have to do it behind him while my mom recorded it. Thinking back I find it hilarious.
What's A Little Bloodshed Between Family
The men in my family have epic towel fights at most get-togethers. We've been doing it for nearly a decade and we play pretty rough. Welts, bruises, and some occasional blood is shed. It's barbaric. It's painful. It's a good show.
Every year our Thanksgiving consists of all the neighborhood strays, usually around 25 people. The food is glorious and wine is plentiful. When everyone is seated for dinner, my dad does a toast and then turns on the song Alice's restaurant. Our entire family and regular guests sing the song as it's being played. The newcomers are usually a little mortified and stunned that A) 20 people are singing the same song around the dinner table. B) we know ALL the words C) the song is so long. I've grown to love this tradition.
Irish Catholic Jenga
Thanksgiving. Pass the spoon. After we've eaten and your sitting around the table someone puts whatever on a spoon and hands it to the right. Then next person repeats the process. Pepper, food, sugar, paper, a hair, booze etc. Whoever spills the spoon has to eat it's contents. It's like Irish Catholic Jenga.
Worst. Game. Ever.
Pretending to be asleep. Whenever a family member or a guest arrives at our home, everyone, no matter what they are doing, will be fast asleep snoring obnoxiously.
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Who Are They?
My sister accidentally started a tradition when she was a kid. She wandered into my parent's room one evening after watching TV and asked them, "Who is John Belushi?" I think she was 8 or 9 at the time. My parents, who were big fans, told her who he was and then asked her why she wanted to know. Her response was "oh, he died" and she wandered out of their room. She did the same thing about a week later with another celebrity and my parents, having forgotten about how she asked about John Belushi responded the same way, explaining who the celebrity was and then asking why and got the same response from my sister "oh, he died". Now whenever there is a celebrity death, everyone in my family and several family friends rush to call/text someone else in the family so they can be the first person to report it and the call/text always starts with "Who is ___?!" and usually the other person responds with "oh no, how did they die?!"
The person who manages to tell someone else first usually is referred to as "winning" that round. We're a little morbid.
Never Enough Traditions
Every once in a while, my mother gets this idea that we don't have enough traditions. So... she makes some up! "Oh let's hold hands during prayer like we always do!"
We have literally never done that.
Have A Slapping Good Time
Whenever we make a turkey or goose for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have to slap it. I don't know why the slapping takes place when the turkey is in the roasting pan, you just slap it with moderate force, about the force you would use to slap a fly or mosquito on your leg.
Whenever I asked my grandmom she would sing "it's tradition!" and never answer the question beyond that.
This One Is Too Relatable
We have this great one where on every holiday we start drinking right before dinner and by 9 o'clock we all hate each other.
Egg Hunt With Weapons
My extended family, we have insane Easter egg hunts. My youngest first cousin is 12, but the only way to get out of egg hunting in my family is to spawn someone to take your place. So we have a bunch of 20- and 30- somethings (plus a couple teenagers and 1 8 year old) running around with Nerf swords beating each other up over plastic eggs filled with candy. It's excellent entertainment for my aunts and uncles.
At Least It's Only Once A Year
It might not be the strangest thing, but it's certainly the most pretentious thing I do. Every year on Easter after church we go to the front lawn in our Sunday's best and play croquet.
I Scream, You Scream
We have a couple but my favorite is "ice cream runs". On a school night my mom would tuck me into bed, turn out the lights and pretend to go to bed too. Then ten minutes later she'd come barreling into my room, flick the lights and scream "ice cream run!" The whole house would get up and go for sundaes in our pajamas. I'm definitely going to keep this up when I have kids!
To Absent Friends
My mom has always been the "cool" mom who took in stray friends of mine who had problems at home or other needs. One year one of the stray friends I had living at the house had his necktie get accidentally packed in the Christmas decorations. So every year when we decorate we place his tie in a prominent place to remember friends not there. He has since passed and it seems fitting to look at "Bernard's Tie" on the mantle and think about those we still care about who can't be with us.
We have a family reunion every year at Christmas and hold a White Elephant gift exchange. There's this really awful statue of two chipmunks that gets re-gifted every year, always with something new added to it (paint job, little outfits, etc.). Everyone dreads getting it.
Celebrate The Rodent
We celebrate Groundhog's Day as the biggest holiday of the year. We get each other cards and have a party and watch the movie. We don't really give a crap what if the little guy sees his shadow or not; it's more of a family celebration.
For Good Health
When someone in my family loses a baby tooth we have to chuck it onto the roof after reciting a chant. Something to the effect of "take this rotten tooth and bestow me with a healthy one", but in Portuguese. I don't understand it myself. Cultural superstitions, I suppose.
It All Ends In Disappointment
Every time someone has predicted the end of the world (The Rapture, December 21 2012, etc.) my family has a get-together and a teaparty.
Over time the teaparty evolved into a "teaparty with crazy-hats", as my aunt has a crate filled with ridiculous costumes. So we're all a group of people sitting around a table drinking tea while wearing tophats, WWII helmets, turbans, bunnyears, etc.
Then at the end of the day we gather outside and watch the sunset as we prepare for the world to be destroyed. Then we get in our cars and drive home disappointed.
Minimum wage is often paid by some of the most physically and emotionally intensive work—service industry jobs. Having to work in a hot kitchen all day or deal with irate customers while being paid less than you need to survive is not exactly the best situation to be in.