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Clementines, boyfriends, and a golden pig… there’s no formula for tradition


My family puts clementines in the bottoms of our stockings, which is pretty much one million times worse than coal because you have to eat them.

—Stephanie Piamonte


On Christmas Eve, my family heads to my grandmother’s house for supper and gifts after six o’clock mass. I have more than 30 cousins, and most of them are under the age of 10. But for the older cousins, the deal is this: The newest boyfriend has to dress up as our Santa and hand out gifts all night to the youngsters.

—Sarah Nolette

Every winter break, my family cozies up with holiday snacks, spiked eggnog, and special holly socks, and watch the all-time best Christmas movies ever made: the first two films of the Die Hard series. Bruce Willis somehow manages to tie together terrorist attacks, a hijacking, and machine guns with holiday spirit, all wrapped nicely with a bow. His use of a corpse and a Santa hat to communicate with Allan Rickman is especially festive.

—Chelsea McManus

The most memorable part of my Christmas dinners has nothing to do with the unconventional Egyptian delicacies, like kebabs and molokiya, covering the table. For me, it’s an unwritten, unofficial, unbroken post-dinner tradition: Every year, as the family sits in an overfed stupor, my aunt asks if we’ve “seen the golden pig.” Apparently Czech kids back home would be told if they ate all their Christmas dinner, they would hallucinate about seeing a golden pig. Status report: The golden pig has yet to be spotted. But we will continue to stuff ourselves until someone catches him.

—Jasmine van Schouwen 

Since I can remember, my family has always danced the bird. Whether its because the bird tastes better that way or out of a one-last-hurra attitude or simply because my grandparents enjoy showtunes, the entire family gets to enjoy a new poultry rendition of the turkey dancing to the Stripper on the kitchen counter. When the show’s over it gives its last bow and is tossed in the oven.

—Adam Gibbard

When my family assembles our tree, it becomes a trip down memory lane. Most families decorate with shiny Christmas balls and a star on top, but my family has a different take.  Our tree pays homage to my sister and I’s childhood, with dozens of old crafts mixed among the strings of lights and other ornaments.  Some of these crafts aren’t even Christmas themed—like the classroom project of a spider and its web made of fuzzy pipe-cleaners and cotton balls, or paper cut decorations of butterflies hanging on a string of yarn.

—Christina Yee