The 15 Most Disturbing Christmas Traditions

Christmas is full of nightmares.

1. Mistletoe

Mistletoe is the spin-the-bottle of plants. No piece of nature should be allowed to elicit the middle school anxiety of required kissing.

2. The song “Santa Baby”

Christmas carols should not have overt sexual overtones. No one should be talking to Santa in a breathy voice. And if you’re saying “But Santa has needs and urges just like the rest of us,” I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT THAT EVER. Trading on sex appeal for extravagant gifts, calling a beloved childhood figure “baby,” “cutie,” “honey”—Is the Christmas spirit the same thing as feeling like you need to take a shower?

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3. Live Christmas trees

Sure Christmas trees are fun and beautiful and the smell and blah blah but then you have to throw a tree IN THE GARBAGE. A once noble pine tree goes out with your skunky old trash. It’s basically like “Toy Story 3.”

4. Secret Santa

Is this gift from your “secret Santa” or a stalker? It’s hard to tell the difference.

5. Sitting on Santa’s lap

Why do we make our children sit on a strange man’s lap? A man often wearing a fake beard no less. And worse, you’re supposed to tell this strange man what you want. That’s private! Also, you’re ON HIS LAP.

6. Santa’s elves

We’ve been made to assume these elves live in the North Pole (where no one can hear them scream) and make a bunch of toys, but is it by choice? Is that a fulfilling life? Can they leave if they choose? What if they can’t? Do they even get paid? How are their working conditions? Something doesn’t seem right about this.

7. Candy canes

Just so we’re clear, these are lickable walking sticks. Someone was like “we need canes we can lick” and voila.

Has anyone ever eaten an entire candy cane? But more importantly, would anyone want to? They’re probably the most disappointing candy of the holiday season: a rock-hard stick with a flavor not too far from breath mints or toothpaste.

Bottom line: It’s a candy that, if you suck on it the right way, can be fashioned into a point that could stab someone.

8. Gingerbread men

We’re expected to murder these cute little guys with our teeth? Create men in our own likeness only to destroy them?

9. Gingerbread houses

Who’s gonna live in this dump? The gingerbread men you casually murdered with your mouth? Not even cookies should be expected to live in a place thats not up to code.

10. Blinking lights

Sure, blinking holiday lights CAN look good when deployed tastefully, but they often look like a seizure-inducing mistake.

11. SantaCon

If you’re not familiar, A. You’re lucky, B. It’s where thousands of people dress up like Santa and go on a bar crawl. A mob of drunk Santas is exactly as scary as it sounds. The streets are flooded with Christmas vomit and inevitably someone in a reindeer costume inappropriately touches someone’s butt.

12. Animatronic displays

Why is their movement so slow and demon-like?

13. “The Elf on the Shelf”

“The Elf on the Shelf” is a trendy children’s book that came out in 2005. It comes with a physical elf that’s supposed to be Santa’s spy. You move the elf to new locations as if its possessed to trick your children into believing it’s magic. However, dolls that come to life are never not terrifying.

14. Getting a lump of coal in your stocking

Aside from the fact that probably no one wants a “lump” of anything, coal serves as a grim reminder of our CO2 emissions, the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, and global warming. Kid, you’ll probably make that same face when you see Kevin Costner’s gills.

15. Everything about Santa Claus

“He sees you when you’re sleeping.” Nope. Shut it down.

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