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Nana Mouskouri, fruity uses for cake and other weird family traditions

There are some things most of us do every Christmas: put up a tree, leave something for Santa, have too much dinner together. It's a time of tradition. 

But it's also a time when families and loved ones come together, coop themselves up together for too long and get bored. So it's no surprise that many families invent their own weird traditions that take on a life of their own. Here are some of the odder ones we've found as we celebrate the non-Christmas Christmas traditions that make the season a uniquely personal festivity for you and yours.


Nana nana nana nana...Christmas!

Nana Mouskouri is a bit odd in any context: a prodigiously talented crooner from the '70s who sold 200 million albums and sang in 12 different languages before giving up the glitz and running away to become a member of the European Parliament.

But framing an album sleeve and using it as a Christmas shrine on the mantelpiece? That moves from 'odd' to 'weird'. Yet this is exactly what Lumens Head of Design Susan does:


"My mother used to play Nana Mouskouri's Christmas record when I was growing up. As a teenager I hated it of course, and one year I hid it. But when I grew up and left home I missed it so much I bought my own CD and now I torture my own kids with it. Nana’s got quite the vocal range, so I do enjoying trilling the high notes in a Greek accent as I do my Christmas tasks. The framed record was meant as a joke from my brother-in-law several years ago. I think he’s a bit bemused that it still has pride of place each year."


Oranges are the only fruit

Another family does cruel, senseless harm to innocent oranges. Midshipmen89 says, via Reddit: "Has to be an orange smashing contest at Christmas eve dinner. Not the chocolate oranges like normal people, but real oranges. Everyone at the table gets one, and gets one hit to do as much damage as they can. My grandma is the judge, and the winner gets to open their present first the next morning."


The name game

Wonderloaf loses his name every year. "For about 5 years, my brother has called me Dave, even though that isn’t my name. It caught on in the family and now Christmas is the time when everyone calls me Dave when they come to visit."


Use your loaf

But the prize for the most enduring and strange Christmas tradition must go to tigris1427 on Reddit.

"My uncle received a prepackaged and extremely unappetizing fruitcake as a Christmas present when he was about seventeen. As a joke, he wrapped it up and gave it to my grandmother (his mother) on Christmas day. The next year, my uncle opened his final Christmas present from my grandmother. It was the fruitcake, still uneaten and still unwrapped. A legacy began. Every Christmas, the current bearer of the fruitcake gave it to the other in increasingly ludicrous ways.

"One year, my grandmother asked my uncle to pour the orange juice on Christmas morning. Inside the carton was: the fruitcake.

 fruit loaf
Fruitcake, unmolested by successive generations.
Image credit: Fig and Lime cordial


"Another year an anonymous gift of gourmet jello arrived at my uncle’s door. Suspended within was the fruitcake.

"The next year, my uncle baked the fruitcake into a loaf of bread. While my grandmother was cutting the bread, she cut the end off of the fruitcake. She nailed it back on with a roofing nail.

"Often, third parties are coerced into assisting with the delivery. When my mother married my father, her initiation process as the new daughter- in-law was to present my grandmother on Christmas with the fruitcake. My grandmother retired from the school board one Christmas, and her confused supervisor’s parting gift to her was the fruitcake.

"The fruitcake arrives in decorative wreaths. It is found in a daughter’s doll house. It is lowered from the ceiling with twine during Christmas dinner.

The fruitcake is 36 years old this Christmas. We have yet to unwrap it."