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

Woman writing in a blank card
Aleksey Boyko / Shutterstock
Snail mail is out.

Christmas is one of the holidays that has been traditionally accompanied by a card. Your mailbox gets bombarded with an abundance of unwanted mail, usually packed with ads and extra bills.

But who else is tired of getting an endless stream of snail mail during the holidays? Most of the mail ends up in the trash anyways.

Not to mention, people are busier than ever and don’t always have time to buy and write cards. Keeping in touch via social media is the popular choice.

Redditor, lisasimpsonfan, isn’t going to send cards just because it’s expected.

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. Pets as gifts

Puppy sitting in gift box
Barbara Rozman / Shutterstock
Animals aren't temporary gifts.

You probably don’t want a hippopotamus for Christmas, but at one time you might have begged your parents for a pet.

But pets aren’t just pets anymore, they’re referred to as "fur babies," with many of them being doted on and given a life better than some humans.

While receiving a fur baby is a nice gesture, many millennials want to find the perfect one for themselves rather than be gifted an animal.

It's also easy to 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 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.

3. Mandatory gifts for the whole family

Christmas wrapped gifts
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock
Every single person doesn't need a gift.

Stores counting on big holiday sales numbers have made Christmas synonymous with gifts. But while most people love receiving 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. Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the shelf
Ursula Page / Shutterstock
A way to track your kids.

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.

5. Mistletoe

Hand holding mistletoe
Charlie Alolkoy / Shutterstock
I don't want to kiss you.

Another ancient Greek tradition is kissing under the mistletoe, which started during Saturnalia, a December festival that was a forerunner to Christmas.

During the “Tonight Show,” guest John Mulaney shared some pretty strong opinions about mistletoe. He said, “Walking through a doorway with another person is weird enough, I don’t need this perverted garnish over the door.” The crowd, and Jimmy Fallon, laughed hysterically, as many agree with Mulaney's mistletoe opinion.

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.

6. Sitting on Santa’s lap

Baby scared of Santa
Brastock / Shutterstock
Forcing photo opportunities.

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? Millennial parents are famous for their protective "helicoptering," so it’s doubtful they would want to put their children in the lap 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.

7. Rampant consumerism

Store window decorated with Christmas gifts
franz12 / Shutterstock
Buying things we don't need.

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.

A popular trend among the younger generations isn’t about having more stuff, but experiencing more things.

Many younger people give up physical items, and covet experiences, flocking to Christmas-themed markets or events.

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.

8. Christmas music

Ornaments on a piano
Africa Studio / Shutterstock
Let's give our ears a break.

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

Couple watching a movie on couch
DGLimages / Shutterstock
Let's also give our eyes a break.

As music makes its holiday changeover, Christmas TV episodes and movies start taking over home screens.

There will always be classics like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but Hallmark keeps churning out new holiday-themed movies.

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.

Even with a massive influx of these movies on TV, streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus provide favored entertainment with the younger generations.

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. Overspending

Man looking sadly at bill
tommaso79 / Shutterstock
Let's try and save our money.

Thanks to the rampant consumerism discussed earlier, overspending is a common problem around the holidays.

The average holiday debt hangover from the 2017 Christmas season was $1,054 according to one survey — up almost $100 from 2015.

Some might think that going $1,000 into debt isn't horrible, but that’s on top of the debt that many people are already carrying.

Pinterest has become a hot trend, with plenty of millennials try to DIY gifts instead of going out and spending money on things — ultimately saving themselves money.

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?

11. Fancy dinners or meals

Formal Christmas dinner
Bruce Yeung / Shutterstock
Dinner should be enjoyable.

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.

Food-ordering apps such as Uber Eats and DoorDash have reinvigorated the takeout industry and made home-delivered food a possibility on Christmas.

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.

12. White elephant game

Exchanging gifts
LightField Studios / Shutterstock
A worse version of Secret Santa.

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).

13. Visiting multiple relatives on Christmas

Family celebrating christmas
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock
More tiring than fun.

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.

14. Putting up the tree on Christmas Eve

Christmas tree in room
Oxik / Shutterstock
The tree goes up whenever people want to decorate.

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.

15. Caroling

Caroler's at front door
DGLimages / Shutterstock
Going door-to-door is going out of tradition.

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…

16. Fruitcake

Fruitcake sitting on wooden tray
AlisaRut / Shutterstock
Not just for weddings.

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?

17. Tradition itself

Christmas tree with ornament and bow
Sergey Cherviakov / Shutterstock
Times are changing.

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

Two girls dancing around Christmas tree
MJTH / Shutterstock
People just want to relax around the tree instead.

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 sitting in living room
DGLimages / Shutterstock
Sometimes staying home is better.

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.

The obsession with self-care among millennials has never been stronger. Self-care isn’t just about what you eat for breakfast or wash your face with, it’s about mental health, too.

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

Gray living room
Tr1sha / Shutterstock
Not everyone celebrates.

With the rise of social justice movements, people are becoming more aware of others' differences in all factors of life.

Given the rising levels of awareness, many millennials find themselves asking: 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

Christmas decorations in store
Song_about_summer / Shutterstock
Decorating has started at the end of summer.

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. Stores being closed on Christmas

Open sign in store
Sveta Y / Shutterstock
Open year-round.

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.

23. Finding the perfect gift

Stressed shopping
Billion Photos / Shutterstock
It's the thought that counts.

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, especially for a generation used to everything being just a touch of a fingertip away.

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.

24. Christmas Eve boxes

Brown box sitting under tree
nelea33 / Shutterstock
One more gift.

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.

About the Author

Caitlin Cochrane

Caitlin Cochrane

Staff Writer

Caitlin Cochrane is a staff writer with MoneyWise, and has an educational background in human resource management and professional writing. When she is not writing, she is at home drinking tea and playing with her bunnies.

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