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19th Dec 2023

22 Christmas traditions we love, hate, love to hate… and everything in between

Katy Thornton

It’s officially in; our hot takes on Christmas traditions, what can stay, and what we wish went years ago…

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, and it comes with a whole host of its own traditions, some of which we love, others… not so much. Having enjoyed almost three decades of festivities, I think by now I know what I like, and I know what I don’t, and I’m not shy about making it known.

This is but the opinions of one 28 year old girl, so in advance, I apologise if I rip into one of your fave traditions, or endorse something you hate. We can all like what we like, and dislike what we dislike. With that disclaimer out of the way, now let’s get into it.

1. Board Games

Dust off that box of 30 Seconds, or Cranium (if you’re old school) (and the play dough hasn’t dried up) and play some old fashioned board games. It’s a Christmas tradition, it gets you off your phone, and it can stay!

people playing board games

2. Watching the Late Late Toy Show

Would you believe this was the first year I ever watched the Late Late Toy Show from start to finish and I can finally see why people love it so much.

This year was of course Patrick Kielty’s first, and the general consensus was that he killed it. While many will miss Ryan Tubridy’s rendition of the annual toy show, we think that it’s in good hands for the foreseeable, and therefore it’s a tradition that remains intact.


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3. Opening one present on Christmas Eve

This one I’m going to have to pass on. While I understand why parents let their kids do this – the excitement of Christmas day can be too much for the little ones –  I should know seeing as I still never sleep a wink on Christmas Eve – it is better to just wait for Christmas Day.

children opening a christmas present

4. Watching Harry Potter

Big yes. While they are not strictly Christmas movies, they might as well be. Although a tradition that got binned a few years ago was them airing on RTÉ – and it’s one we need back. Not everyone has Sky Cinema, and have you seen how much a Netflix account will set you back these days?

5. Christmas Crackers

I’m just putting it out there, I’m a big fan. Even though they quality seems to diminish with every passing year, there’s something whimsical about pulling Christmas crackers, and I’m always gutted at the thought of not having them.

A word of advice though… don’t be spending loads of money on the fancy Christmas crackers. There really is very little difference in the bits you get inside, no matter whether you buy the €12 box, or the €20 box. Plus, part of the fun is trying to remember the punchline to the joke you’ve been reading out every year since 2014.

christmas cracker on plate

6. Christmas Cake

No, no, no. No thank you. Respectfully, this is a tradition that needs to die. I have never met a person who actually enjoys the taste of Christmas cake. If you have, I’d be wary of them. And if you say you do, who are you lying to protect? That it looks like it’s going to be delicious only makes it worse when it’s not. It’s a no from me. (Chocolate biscuit Christmas cakes on the other hand can stay).

7. Brussel Sprouts

Anyone who doesn’t like Brussel sprouts just hasn’t experienced them in all their glory. While I agree a plain boiled Brussel sprout is a bit bleak (and has the potential to be terribly soggy), when they’re done right, they’re lowkey one of the best parts of Christmas dinner. Try making them in cream, bacon, and bread crumbs (divine) or the same way you’d make cauliflower cheese, but with Brussel sprouts.

brussel sprouts in a bowl

8. Elf on the Shelf

Let me just say I’m glad these pointy fellas weren’t around when I was a kid. I can see their purpose, certainly, and I did get a bit of a laugh the year that Kim Kardashian made her elves have “covid” to get out of their mischief, but I’m glad I was not plagued by their existence.

9. Christmas Eve Pub

A tradition we missed for too many years amid covid restrictions was going to the pub on Christmas eve. There is scarcely a time that people are in better form than when having a few pints on the 24th, and we’re so glad that this tradition is now back on the cards.

10. Watching the Father Ted Christmas Special

Honestly if you don’t crease up after seeing Mrs. Doyle fall out of that window, or Dougal giving “mass” then you’re not entirely human. This can and will stay forevermore.

Image via IMDb

11. Christmas Sambo

Making that stunning Christmas sambo, with all the turkey and brie and cranberry, is simply essential. I don’t care how many helpings of Christmas dinner you had. You need to find room for that over stuffed sambo too!

12. Leaving the wrappers in the chocolate tins

We have all been guilty of this one, I’m not too proud to admit it, but this “tradition” (or rather habit we should say) is one that needs to go immediately. I understand it’s quite difficult to resist, but we have got to stay strong.

13. Going to the Races on Stephen’s Day/Going to the sales

Maybe this is just a sign that I’m getting older. But I can think of nothing more miserable than leaving the house on Stephen’s Day. Stephen’s Day is a second Christmas in my eyes; there are tons of movies still left to watch, leftovers galore, and no pressure to look in any way presentable. I possibly do recommend doing some online shopping from the comfort of the couch… but that’s about it.

14. Leaving food out for Santa

I mean, who am I to say this isn’t a tradition that deserves to live on? Santa, and his reindeer for that matter, deserve a treat more than any of us lazy sacks in our beds, so I definitely endorse leaving him a mince pie or two.

15. Posting what you got for Christmas on social media

I have definitely been guilty of doing this, so there’s no judgement coming from me. But maybe you don’t need to show what your S’O got you in great detail, or the mountain of gifts Santy gave you. The odd gift, if it’s particularly cool, quirky, or thoughtful, I’ll allow.

Otherwise keep it to close friends, or yourself.

16. Posting your Christmas dinner on social media

This needs to go too. I’m sure your dinner tastes great, but you cannot honestly tell me that a Christmas dinner is aesthetically pleasing. By all means, enjoy it, take a picture for yourself and the mems. But Instagram doesn’t need to see it.

17. Matching PJs

If this was a tradition I could get my family into, I would. For those of you who do it, I’m very jealous, and keep it up.

18. Trying on everything you got for Chrimbo

We love to see it. You wear that scarf, and new dress, and slippers, and gorge new belt altogether. Who’s going to tell you that you can’t? Not me anyway.

19. The “Christmas Outfit”

For years, I heard my friends discuss their Christmas outfit while I sat there, comprehending logically what they meant, but also having never experienced it myself. The fight to dress up or dress down for Christmas is personal preference, and I opt for a happy medium generally.

20. Tiny cereals

Are tiny cereals a vibe? Yes they are. Do you need to use like three of them to make up a normal bowl of cereal so it would make more sense to use a normal sized cereal box? Also yes. But we still love them, and they can stay.

21. January 6th

The whole taking your tree down by the 6th January just seems a bit extreme to me. One year our family had our tree up for all of January (which, okay, is going from one extreme to the other) but I like the tree sticking around as long as you want personally.

22. Midnight Mass

This one is each to their own. Personally I’ve never experienced Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, so I’m not sure what I’m missing out on. All I can say is that one year it was pitched for our family and we all firmly shot it down.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? But more importantly, what are your least favourite??

Header images via IMDb & Instagram / Late Late Show

READ ON: 8 last minute gifts for when you don’t want to go traipsing around the shops

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