Holiday Traditions: Dumb or Fun?

Christmas trees are weird. So are menorahs and yule logs and eggnog. The holiday season signals the return of a bunch of odd stuff that doesn’t make sense any other time of year.

But even with the general quirkiness of the holidays, not all traditions are equal. Some are silly and fun while others are just plain stupid. Here’s how we feel about some of the strangest, most common holiday traditions.

Mistletoe – Dumb

Maybe there’s some recency bias kicking in here, but a little plant that obliges you to kiss the nearest person might not be a good idea. Sexual harassment potential aside, it’s also pretty dumb—what’s so aphrodisiacal about this plant? Let’s replace the mistletoe with magic mushrooms, and instead of kissing the person you give them a big bro hug and yell “duuuuuuuude!” in unison.

Presents Under the Tree – Fun

Tree presents are specifically a Christmas thing. That’s also the only weird thing about this tradition, because opening presents is fucking awesome regardless of your religious inclinations. Putting them under the tree is great because sometimes the wrapping paper smells like pine needles, so you let it lay around for a little while longer before your mom pesters you to clean it up.

Stockings – Dumb

Hanging socks over a fire makes sense if you’re a mountain man and your socks are wet. Taking extra large ones and putting them on a wall just seems like something a crazy person would do. I’m all for stocking stuffers, but unless you can actually slip these on your tootsies, I’ll pass.

Elf on the Shelf – Fun

Unlike Santa (spoiler alert!), Elf on the Shelf is real. His job is to do what the nonexistent Santa can’t—scare your kids into being nice during the December. We all know that’s the only month that counts toward Christmas anyway. Plus you can hide it in really weird spots to truly mess with the children in your life.

Caroling – Dumb

People really enjoy doing this, so I feel a little bad calling it dumb. But then I remember the number of times I’ve watched carolers from my porch in freezing weather out of some weird feeling of guilt. All the songs they’re singing are available (and better) on the radio anyway. If you want to carol, have fun, but skip my place next time around.

Dreidels – Fun

The perfect way to scratch that gambling itch during the holiday season.

Nativity Scenes – Dumb

Maybe it’s the little porcelain wise men I dealt with as a kid, but these things always creeped me out. There’s nothing religious about the creepiness, either. I’m just not big on figurines. Hiding Baby Jesus is fun though, so points for that.

Fruit Cake – Dumb

Cake is a perfectly fine thing. Fruit is a perfectly fine thing. They should never be brought together. Still, respect to the families that still dole these out during the holiday season. It’s a subtle way of saying “If I’m not happy, you shouldn’t be either. Also, here’s a shitty cake.”