Some of the things we thought made Christmas so Christmassy now seem like obligations — or burdens.
Here are some traditions, both well-known and more obscure, that people are happy to toss into that roaring fire where the chestnuts are roasting.
Comments have been edited for grammar and clarity.
1. Christmas cards
Christmas has traditionally been a big holiday for greeting cards. The end of the year marks the perfect time to send cards to family and friends, to update them on the year you've had and wish them well in the new year.
But people are busier than ever and have less time to buy and write cards. And given that many of us stay in contact throughout the year via social media, the cards seem a little pointless now.
Plus, they often get thrown as soon as the tree comes down.
Redditor lisasimpsonfan isn’t going to send cards just because that's something you're supposed to do.
It's a waste of paper and money. If I don't hear from you all year long, why should I care just because it's Christmas?
2. Christmas Eve boxes
It's a simple custom, though it has some variations.
These boxes are typically filled with treats and given to children as a way to relieve some of their intense anticipation for Christmas morning. (But they probably won't be any less likely to try waking up Mom and Dad at 5 a.m.)
Really, a Christmas Eve box can be given to anyone as a special gift. This tradition is highly popular in the United Kingdom.
It might seem redundant, since you’ll be opening presents the following day. Redditor angrylibertariandude doesn’t see the point in passing out more gifts.
I hadn't yet heard of this trend, oddly enough, but yeah totally seems pointless to me.
Christmas Day is more than sufficient.
3. Mandatory gifts for the whole family
Stores counting on big holiday sales numbers have made Christmas synonymous with gifts. But while most people love getting them, not everyone loves giving gifts.
It not only gets a bit tricky to find suitable gifts, but there’s also a lot of pressure to buy them for everyone in the family. If you pick and choose, some relatives might feel left out.
Redditor henrycharleschester decided only the closest people in the family would get a gift.
Apart from my mom and kids, I have only had one family member visit me in the past year and yet I'm expected to gift to all of them "because they're family."
My foot is firmly down this year and I'm ready for the onslaught of grapevine gossip.
4. Sitting on Santa’s lap
This tradition doesn’t have an exact origin date or story, but after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in New York in 1924, Santa Claus started making regular appearances.
Children would line up to meet Kris Kringle, and parents wanted to take pictures of their kids on Santa's lap, whispering their wishlist to him.
It seems innocent enough, but isn't it also a little weird? After all, you're putting your child in the hands of a complete stranger.
Redditor ionlyeatnachos says the whole idea seems to go against common sense: If a kid doesn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap, don’t force it.
Santas of the malls — stop trying to lure children on your lap with candy. It goes against everything we teach our kids.
5. Pets as gifts
You probably don’t want a hippopotamus for Christmas, but at one time you might have begged your parents for a pet.
Many people get swept up in the holiday spirit and forget that a gift puppy or kitten is a real animal that will need years of feeding and care.
Baby animals are cute on Christmas morning — but before long, they grow up.
Redditor MentalVacation has decided that pets don't make great gifts.
Want to get me a pet for Christmas? Write me a card that says we are off to a shelter at the end of January to give an animal its forever home.
6. Elf on the Shelf
This is a newer tradition that started only in 2005, but the little toy has already become a yearly visitor in homes across America.
Carol Aebersold, the co-author of the book Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, decided to bring the character to life with her two daughters.
The storybook and elf are now sold together in a pricey package, retailing for an average $39.99 at big-box retailers, though less on Amazon.
The premise is that the elf is a scout for Santa and helps him spy on kids to see if they’re naughty or nice.
Redditor russells-crockpot thinks the whole thing is creepy.
Most parents use it to make the kid think they're always being watched.
7. White elephant game
You may have heard this called Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa, and it’s similar to having a Secret Santa.
You buy a gift according to rules laid down by the host, and you don't know who will wind up with the item.
All the gifts go into a pile, and everyone draws a number to determine the order of picking a random gift. If you don't like the present you unwrap, you can trade it for one already opened by someone with a lower number.
Redditor Swordman27 was baffled by the rules.
The first and only time I did white elephant, I had no idea what it was, so I just brought a present.
My brother ended up with a cat toy. We were so confused. (We were probably around 13 at the time so we were super confused by the whole situation).
8. Christmas music
You either love it or you hate it.
Starting sometime in November, radio stations swap out their regular playlists for festive songs of the season. You hear the same holiday tunes playing in practically every store.
Popular artists keep releasing more Christmas music, in their own style. Mariah Carey’s insanely popular holiday hit, All I Want for Christmas Is You, has netted her more than $60 million in royalties over the years.
But the music is tiresome, says Redditor Blackbird9495:
Making a billion versions of the exact same Christmas song.
At work I have heard the exact same songs performed by different artists and it’s driving me insane.
I never want to hear Frosty the Snowman ever again!
9. Christmas TV episodes and Hallmark movies
As music makes its holiday changeover, Christmas TV episodes and movies start taking over home screens.
The Hallmark Channel debuted in 2001, and in 2009 it unveiled its “Countdown to Christmas” holiday programming, which begins in October and runs until January.
Since 2008, Hallmark has reportedly made close to 140 festive flicks, with 40 more coming out this year alone.
Redditor MidFin won't be watching any of them:
Crappy TV. All the shows and movies you are watching stop for like a month to be replaced by utter garbage.
Having other shows on helps those not interested in Christmas to keep living a normal life.
10. Visiting multiple relatives on Christmas
Attending multiple Christmas celebrations as a kid meant more gifts and more food. Score!
But among grown-ups, staying home and relaxing seems to be the popular choice, because hitting all the house parties is expensive, time-consuming and tiring.
Redditor jadams4286 would prefer to just stay on the couch.
Spending the entirety of Christmas Eve/Day driving all over creation to stop at all the houses of mine and my wife's side of the family.
Being miserable, getting home at midnight, and realizing I have to leave for an hour to drive to work in two hours with a 14 hour workday ahead of me.
11. Putting up the tree on Christmas Eve
Twelfth Night — not to be confused with the Shakespeare play by the same name — is the tradition of putting up your tree on Christmas Eve and keeping it up for, you guessed it, 12 nights.
Most people would rather not wait until the last minute, and they put their trees up in early December and take them down by New Year's.
While some keep their tree decorated throughout January (after all, it’s your place and you make the rules), the Twelfth Night custom calls for taking the tree down on Jan. 5.
Quora user Diana A., says the tradition seems to be lost.
Christmas trees are rarely put up on Christmas Eve and taken down at Twelfth Night anymore.
Usually, they’re put up as soon as Thanksgiving is over, and taken down within a very few days after December 25th.
12. Rampant consumerism
Has the true meaning of Christmas gotten lost? That's a question that's been asked for decades, maybe even centuries.
While businesses have come to see the holiday as a major source of profit, many people have become fed up with all the stress of buying stuff in order to stay in the holiday spirit.
Quora commenter Tom S. is tired of all the consumerism.
Today it is nothing more than how to get people to spend money, go into debt, to get things they don’t need to keep up with the neighbors.
When stores need to stay open Thanksgiving Day because they might miss a sale, it has lost all meaning.
Originally known as Christian hymns in 4th century Rome, they didn’t become known as Christmas carols until later.
While there’s no official documentation of when singing door-to-door got started, legend has it that "carols" were named after a little girl named Carol Poles.
She went missing in 19th century England, and people supposedly went from house to house singing their good intentions.
Often associated with charities looking for donations, caroling seems to happen less and less. And that's just fine with Redditor IndigoBluue:
Does anyone else hate carollers who ring your doorbell?
It’s always so awkward to just stand there while they sing and then they’re always looking to collect money for something…
Thanks to the rampant consumerism discussed earlier, overspending is a common problem around the holidays.
Some might think that going $1,000 into debt isn’t so bad, but that’s on top of the debt that many people are already carrying.
Redditor ctrembs03 is concerned that spending a load of money on Christmas has become expected.
The intense pressure to spend tons of money. I am way too broke to spend crazy amounts of money.
Can we not just bake cookies and enjoy each other's company without the commercialism?
It seems like it's joked about more than it's eaten as a dessert, but fruitcake has a long history, dating back to ancient Rome.
Originally considered a traditional wedding cake, fruitcake has long been a Christmas staple in Britain. Americans must love it, too, because just one bakery — in Claxton, Georgia — reportedly turns out 4 million pounds of fruitcake every year.
Because the cake is sometimes soaked in alcohol, it stays fresh longer and can remain in the freezer for over a year.
Just because it can stick around for so long doesn’t mean it’s tasty, says johnjdm, writing on Reddit.
Fruitcake. Saw a bunch of them at Costco the other day. Who's eating these vile things?
Another ancient Greek tradition is kissing under the mistletoe, which started during Saturnalia, a December festival that was a forerunner to Christmas. Mistletoe also was part of marriage ceremonies, because the plant supposedly had a connection to fertility.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that attaches itself to trees, and bears white berries during the winter.
The kissing might have seemed like just innocent fun in the past, but it's an awkward custom in the #MeToo era.
Redditor Back2Bach, says this is one tradition that’s a little uncomfortable.
Kissing people underneath mistletoe that you'd rather avoid, but they take advantage of the tradition to plant a kiss.
17. Tradition itself
We love traditions because they’re fun and nostalgic, almost like long-held secrets shared among certain people.
But as things change, traditions must be adapted and kept fresh, to keep the fun going.
Redditor wokecentrist says the important thing is not to turn traditions into superstitions.
If you hate a tradition, just stop doing it; you're a big boy/girl who can make their own decisions.
Nothing bad will happen if you just don't do stockings, or stop some old family tradition that you never really liked doing it.
Spend the season where you're supposed to be enjoying time with the people you care about doing it your way, and not being miserable over a bunch of unneeded stress.
18. Dancing around the Christmas tree
Many American traditions began as Danish customs — like rice pudding and Advent calendars.
Dancing (or rockin') around the Christmas tree is another familiar one from Denmark that some American families have adopted.
After the Christmas dinner plates have been cleared, everyone gathers around the tree and sings hymns and carols.
Writing on Reddit, Zenopus says even though it’s tradition, it isn’t always fun.
Never been a fan of dancing around the tree. I understand why we do it but it just feels awkward; be it a large or small amount of people, it always feels misplaced.
19. Being around family
Family can be tricky, whether it’s during the holiday season or at any time. If you see your family only once or twice a year, you may have a harder time standing up for yourself.
The stress from having to be around toxic family members is tiring, unhealthy and doesn’t make Christmas very enjoyable.
Redditor JoDoc77 feels the pressure of being around family.
The obligation to get together with family — it’s just a bunch of adults complaining about the other adults in the room, or what they should be doing, or what they did wrong, or how they’re wasting their life, etc.
I finally put a stop to going. I flat out refused. You shouldn’t feel forced to be around toxic people.
20. Assuming that everyone celebrates
Do people who celebrate Christmas need to be more sensitive to those who don’t? That's become an annual topic of heated debate, and the answer depends on your point of view.
Christmas is overwhelmingly a part of American life. As we said previously, the Pew Research Center has found that 90% of people in the U.S. commemorate Christmas in some way. But that leaves 10% who don't.
Redditor tthoughts says forcing the holidays on someone isn’t healthy.
[I have a problem with] saying "Merry Christmas" all month long. Then getting upset when people respond with anything other than “Merry Christmas.”
Christmas is one day of the month, a month with all sorts of holidays. Saying, "Happy Holidays," isn't an attack on Christmas, it's common decency.
21. Decorating in December
The holiday decorating seems to start earlier every year.
Some people get so excited about Christmas that they start decking the halls in October, even before Halloween. They have enablers: retail stores that sell Halloween and Christmas decorations side by side.
A 2018 survey found that about 35% of people say it's hard to find the time to decorate for the holidays. But somehow, the overly festive among us will always make time, and many weeks before Christmas.
Redditor Geminii27 says it's got to stop.
[One tradition that needs to die out is] commercial stores putting up decorations. Too many people doing Christmas things before December.
22. Fancy dinners or meals
One of the best parts about Christmas is the food. Many of us look forward to getting a second delicious meal about a month after Thanksgiving. Just think of all the mouth-watering sides that will help fill the holiday table.
Some Christmas dinners are really formal, with fancy dinnerware and attire to match.
But all the prepping and cooking is exhausting, so lots of families are opting out to just relax and wear whatever is comfortable.
Reddit user derring-do09 says formal Christmas meals need to go.
When we were kids we always had to go to our aunt’s house dressed up really nicely to eat off of fancy china.
The families actively hated one another, no one wants to wear heels all night, and I was always terrified of knocking over a glass or breaking something.
23. Stores being closed on Christmas
Stores have traditionally closed on Dec. 25. For many retailers, it's the only day of the year they shut down.
But a small but growing number are staying open later on Christmas Eve and are even opening on Christmas Day. Stores are trying to sell as much merch as possible to turn a profit, even if that means opening their doors on Christmas.
Quora user Diana A. has been watching the trend.
In the U.S., at least, it’s increasingly common for some businesses to stay open on Christmas, so more people are working on Christmas than used to be the case.
Gone are the days when business areas were closed down, and everyone (except nurses, police officers and a few other 24/7/365 professions) had the day off.
24. Finding the perfect gift
Being busy with work or family doesn’t leave a lot of time for shopping. Not everyone has time to wait in lines or traffic, and run around to multiple stores.
Finding the perfect gift is stressful, and the expectation that you’ll receive exactly what you wanted isn’t realistic. But the pressure to exchange presents leaves lots of people disappointed or with useless holiday gifts.
Redditor swolf8100 says enough is enough.
The best thing about the holidays is spending time with people you care about but don't have much reason to see it anymore.
This stupid gift-giving thing just introduces a huge amount of stress and potential resentment. It should go away.