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'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.

"Pretty Normal"

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.

-Stregano

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.

-schnitzli

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.

-LordofMylar

No Regrets

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.

-YesRocketScience

Wolf Pack

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.

-swankengr

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.

-MissSmoking

Birthday Platypus

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.

-sonicwombat

Family...Bonding...?

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.

-canarygirl

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.

-Totesmcgotes702

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.

-VSavrek

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.

-Thousands_of_Spiders

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.

-LilySapphire

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.

-Spatacuulous

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.

-User Account Deleted

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.

-carpecarp1

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.

-teakwood54

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.

-shaven_craven

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.

-TrepidaciousFatGuy

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.

-faeryjessa

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.

-Slimjeezy

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!

-ashleighlynn

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.

-Cncgeek

Elephantine Chipmunks

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.

-rhombus2210

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.

-StickleyMan

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.

-scencion

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.

-WGMindless

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Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Hulu

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's searing novel, was written at the height of the Reagan administration and satirized political, social, and religious trends of the 1980s. It's also a hit television series on Hulu that returns on June 5.

While we still have a long way to go before we can find out what's next for June/Offred in the Republic of Gilead, we can, at the very least, regale you with some cool facts about one of the most enduring stories of the last three decades.

The Trailer for Season 3 Plays Off a Slogan from the Reagan Era

Perhaps the best thing that came out of the Super Bowl––aside from the memes haggling Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, that is––was the trailer for the third season of the Hulu series.

The trailer lampoons former President Ronald Regan's 1984 "Morning in America" political campaign television commercial.

"It's morning again in America," you hear over a soundtrack and images that resound with boundless optimism. Things turn dark from there. Soon the camera freezes on Elisabeth Moss's face: "Wake up, America," she says.

Margaret Atwood's Follow-Up Will Be Released Later This Year

Margaret Atwood will release a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale titled The Testaments in September 2019. The Testaments is unconnected to Hulu's adaptation and will feature the testimonials of three female narrators from Gilead.

This literary device keeps with the metafictional epilogue that follows Offred's story in the original novel. The novel ends much in the way Season 1 ends: with Offred entering the van at Nick's insistence. The epilogue explains how the events of the novel were recorded onto cassette tapes after the beginning of what scholars have come to describe as "The Gilead Period." An interview with a noted academic implies that a more equitable society, one with full rights for women and freedom of religion restored, emerged following the collapse of the Republic of Gilead.

Serena Joy Waterford Is Likely Based On A Noted Conservative Activist

As the series goes on, we learn more about Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) and her beginnings.

Serena was a conservative activist who, along with her husband Fred, spearheaded the Puritan movement that ultimately gave rise to Gilead. Inspired by women whom she perceives to have "abandoned" their families in the name of female autonomy, Serena Joy delivers impassioned speeches at venues around the nation calling for policies that would place women back in the home. She even wrote a bestselling book, A Woman's Place, that served as the vessel for much of her conservative dogma and inspired many of the Commander's Wives who become her friends and neighbors.

Serena was likely based on conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who established herself over many years as one of the fiercest antifeminist and anti-abortion advocates in the United States. Schlafly was also a vociferous opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, which she considered an attack against traditional gender roles.

The 1990 Film Adaptation Had a Messy Production

A film version of The Handmaid's Tale was released in 1990. It starred Natasha Richardson as Offred, Faye Dunaway as Serena Joy, Robert Duvall as Commander Waterford, Aidan Quinn as Nick, Victoria Tennant as Aunt Lydia, and Elizabeth McGovern as Moira.

The film was not well received and had a messy production. Director Volker Schlöndorff replaced original director Karel Reisz amid internal bickering over a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Schlöndorff asked for rewrites, and Pinter, who was reluctant to do them, directed him to author Margaret Atwood, who was one of several who ended up making changes to Pinter's screenplay.

Pinter told his biographer years later [as quoted in Harold Printer, p. 304] that:

It became … a hotchpotch. The whole thing fell between several shoots. I worked with Karel Reisz on it for about a year. There are big public scenes in the story and Karel wanted to do them with thousands of people. The film company wouldn't sanction that so he withdrew. At which point Volker Schlondorff came into it as director. He wanted to work with me on the script, but I said I was absolutely exhausted. I more or less said, 'Do what you like. There's the script. Why not go back to the original author if you want to fiddle about?' He did go to the original author. And then the actors came into it. I left my name on the film because there was enough there to warrant it—just about. But it's not mine'.

Star Natasha Richardson reportedly felt "cast adrift" when much of Offred's interior monologue was sacrificed as a result of cuts made to the screenplay.

The Film and TV Series Aren't The Only Adaptations of This Seminal Work

There are several different adaptations of Atwood's seminal work, including, but not limited to:

  • an audiobook read by Homeland actress Claire Danes that won the 2013 Audie Award for Fiction
  • a concept album by Canadian band Lakes of Canada
  • a radio adaptation produced in 2000 for BBC Radio 4
  • an operatic adaptation that premiered in 2000 and was the opening production of the 2004–2005 season of the Canadian Opera Company.

Elisabeth Moss, the Star of the Hulu Series, is a Scientologist

Between The West Wing, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss has a reputation for starring in critically acclaimed television shows.

Much has been made, however, of her casting as Offred. Moss was born into the Scientologist belief system, which the German government has classified as an "anti-constitutional sect," the French government has classified as a cult, and the American government has allowed individuals to practice freely though not without considerable contention. Moss also identifies as a feminist.

Asked by a fan about the parallels between Gilead and Scientology (namely the belief that "outside forces" are inherently "evil") Moss responded:

"That's actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and THT hit me on a very personal level."

An Episode During Season 2 Highlighted President Donald Trump's Border Crisis

Last summer, President Donald Trump and his administration created a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border when he and Jeff Sessions, his former attorney general, announced their "zero tolerance" family separations policy. The president blamed Democrats for the policy, imploring them to "start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration."

As images and stories of children ripped away from their parents at the border began to circulate, the Season 2 episode "The Last Ceremony" showed just how timely the show really is: After Offred is raped by the Waterfords, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) allows June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) to visit her daughter, Hannah, in an undisclosed location. June is given 10 minutes with her daughter before a guard forcibly separates them again.

The episode, written well before the crisis was initiated, premiered just as Homeland Security admitted that more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.

Another Episode During Season 2 Appeared to Predict Canada-U.S. Relations

The fallout between the United States and Canada during the G7 summit appeared to have reached its peak once President Donald Trump refused to sign a joint statement with America's allies and threatened to escalate a trade war between America's neighbors. He also referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "weak."

The Season 2 episode "Smart Power"––in which Canadian diplomats ban Gilead's representatives from the country and choose to stand with the women imprisoned in the totalitarian nation in a nod to the #MeToo movement––was written and premiered before the G7 blowup, but is no less prophetic.

In Season 2, Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" Becomes an Ode to Female Resilience

"This Woman's Work," a ballad written by singer Kate Bush that is also one of the tracks on her 1989 album The Sensual World, serves as an ode to female power and resistance in the horrifying Season 2 opener, where June and the other handmaids realize they're about to be executed. The women are forced to summon strength at a moment of debilitating weakness. As the camera pans over the bleak environs of Fenway Stadium, Bush starts to sing:

Pray God you can cope
I'll stand outside
This woman's work
This woman's world
Ooooh it's hard on a man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the FatherI
know you've got a little life in you left
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I know you've got a little life in you yet
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
All the things we should've said that I never said
All the things we should have done that we never did
All the things we should have given but I didn't
Oh darling make it go
Make it go away
















"It was shattering and perfect," said Bruce Miller, who created the Hulu Handmaid's Tale adaptation. "One of the things I really like about the song is that on its face, there's a bit of very interesting lyrical play. It's nice that that's going on while you're watching."

"The Handmaid's Tale" Was the First Streamed Series to Win the Best Drama Series Emmy

Hulu beat out Netflix and Amazon to become the first streaming service to win an Emmy for Best Drama. Unfortunately, because the third season doesn't premiere until June 5, it's ineligible for the 2019 Emmys. Guess we'll see the show back onstage in 2020!

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