Families reveal their weirdest Christmas traditions, from a pig named Joan to sushi centrepieces

What are your family’s weirdest Christmas traditions? (Picture: Getty)

Every family has their thing. You know. A ridiculously niche nickname for the TV remote. A recurring joke about your biological dad being the mailman.

There’s a specific kind of inside joke that stems only from shared genes and cohabitation.

For those who enjoy this particular brand of humour, Christmas is peak season for it.

To celebrate the festive weirdness, we asked seven people to reveal their family’s strangest Christmas traditions.

‘Use your teeth, Joan!’

London-based Beth Stone and her family honour Christmas with a ten-year strong tradition involving a mysterious ‘Joan’.

Beth tells us: ‘Every year there is a Christmas present addressed to ‘Joan’ under the tree – but there is no Joan. As it’s being opened, my older sister and I always shout, “Use your teeth, Joan!”

The mysterious Joan is part family legend, part running gag that all began with Beth’s dad making a simple mistake.

‘The tradition stems from about ten years ago, our dad wrapping presents late at night while watching a documentary about Jimmy Doherty’s pig farm – starring a sow called Joan – and accidentally labelling a gift for the pig,’ Beth explains.

‘Christmas is incomplete without Joan’s annual gift, although I think our dad is sick of hearing about it, to be honest.’

Without the crusts

As London-based consultant Claire Shipp gears up for Christmas, she’ll be thinking of her family in sunny Australia and their time-honoured tradition. Considering the temperature in her hometown usually soars to the thirties on Christmas Day, the Shipp clan favour a refreshing ritual.

‘We do a 6.30am swim in our pool, followed by a glass of champers, and then asparagus sandwiches. The asparagus is tinned, put diagonally across a piece of white sandwich bread that has been heavily buttered and the crusts cut off,’ Claire says.

As we’re looking at lows of -1°C for Christmas, Claire probably won’t be recreating the tradition in the Northern Hemisphere. At least not the swimming part.

Festive flops

Zombeavers never won an Oscar but it will bring the family together. (Picture: ‎Armory Films)

Every year, there are films that get dragged by critics and fail to return on grandiose budgets. But these movies with ridiculous plots, unconvincing performances, and shoddy CGI certainly have their place. For Georgina Carnell and her family, that place is on the telly by the tree.

‘We watch a really bad movie every Christmas Eve. We put my nephews to bed then put on a horrible movie. The year before last was Piranha 3DD, last year was Zombeavers, and this year we are thinking Sharknado,’ Georgina tells

‘My family was reluctant at first to get on board with the tradition but now they love it.’

Trading the sound of sleigh bells for the frenzied chomping of flying sharks and flesh-feasting beavers seems like a fine idea to us.

Rise and sarnie

Carly Thompsett from Portsmouth knows the benefits of a hearty breakfast, particularly on the big day.

‘We have to have a cup of tea and bacon sandwich before we open our presents,’ says Carly. ‘The bacon sandwich tradition started when me and my siblings were younger and my mum and dad needed more time in bed.

‘We would wake up at 5am, harass our parents to open our stockings and they would tell us we couldn’t go downstairs until 7am and we’ve all had a bacon sandwich and cup of tea. It has just stuck as a family tradition ever since, even when we moved out of our parents house.’.

It just so happens that the weirdest part wasn’t what was on their plates, but in their stockings.

‘We have an apple, an orange and a pound coin in the bottom of our stockings every year. It was a tradition my mum brought from her parents and grandparents.

‘It’s similar to the ones at New Year when you take food over the threshold to give yourself luck for the year. The fruit was because during the war, food was rationed and it became a treat at Christmas. The pound coin symbolised giving us wealth for the coming year.’

Feed the goblins with honey balls

While some kids fret about not getting what was on their wish list, Tonia Buxton was far more concerned about goblins.

‘My mother would scare us with them when we were young ‘if you are not good the Kalikanzari will come and get you’,’ the consultant chef at The Real Greek said. ‘They are little goblin-like monsters.’

‘Over the 12 days of Christmas we would throw loukmades (honey balls) or anything sweet onto the roof to feed them and to stop them from coming into the house and causing chaos.’

A sushi centrepiece in East Sussex

Opt for a centrepiece of bite-sized sushi treats this Christmas. (Picture: MediaNews Group)

Hove-based Jo Martin has turned the roast dinner tradition on its head. Four years ago, the nutritionist asked her two daughters what they fancied eating for Christmas dinner. Their response? Sushi.

The Japanese dish replaced the meat, stuffing and Yorkshires as none of the girls were all that keen on the traditional British spread.

The festive tradition has been repeated each year, with Jo popping down to the Sushi Daily counter on Christmas Eve and then placing it on the dining table as the centrepiece.

Poetry and presents

Social media manager Bracken Jelier and her family celebrate a tradition that stems from the Dutch custom of St Nicholas Eve on 5 December, when the saint writes rhymes for the children. Through Bracken’s Dutch father, it’s become a Christmas Day family ritual.

‘We write a rhyme on every present we give. It can be cryptic, it can be a funny verse, it can even be something that the receiver has to sing, but there has to be something on it or it doesn’t get opened. Present opening therefore takes all day.’

While the relatives get involved, it’s even spread to their friendship circles too.

‘You have no idea what a stress it can be in the build-up to the festive season – everyone wrapping and rhyming right up until the days before!’

Do you have a weird and wonderful festive tradition? Get in touch to tell us more by emailing

MORE: Dog toy company accidentally releases X-rated toy – but ends up embracing the design fail

MORE: Sainsbury’s launches adorable collection of Christmas jumpers for dogs

MORE: The Bear and The Hare is named best John Lewis Christmas advert of all time in our poll


READ  Sober October: the best Halloween activities in London that don’t involve drinking

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.