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Weird and Wonderful Christmas Traditions

posted by Savannah on Tuesday, 15 December 2020

When it comes to Christmas, every family is different, so everyone’s traditions are unique! To bring back that sense of nostalgia, we asked a few Oxbridge team members what family traditions or memories they have from Christmas’ past. And whilst we may be eating turkey sandwiches wrapped from head to toe in the garden and quizzing with distance relatives over Zoom, some things stay the same…

Course advisers 

Dog in Christmas pudding costume

Hayley’s dog, Maude, the Christmas pudding!

5am is basically 9am on Christmas day, right?

Every year, Hayley gets in the Christmas spirit bright and early: “As kids, we always had a present left at the end of the bed, which meant that Santa had been. My sister and I would be so excited for it that we’d be up at 5am, because it seemed like a reasonable time to get up. Well, the habit stuck, and even in our thirties, we’re always up at the crack of dawn on Christmas day to open presents. And I still get just as excited as I did when I was little!

My dog Maude joins in the fun too; she sits next to the oven for the whole day watching the turkey cook and patiently waits for her Christmas dinner!”

Hold on to your mittens, folks.

In Paul’s household, all that’s standing between you and chocolate is a whole lot of knitting and the luck of the dice… “My family play a game that involves many hats, scarves, and gloves, a massive bar of chocolate, a knife and fork, and dice. We take turns to continually roll the dice until someone lands on a six, at which point they put on all the hats, scarves, and gloves, and try to use a knife and fork to cut up and eat the chocolate. As they’re doing this, the next person is rolling the dice until they land on a six and it becomes their turn to put on all the woolly stuff and, as quickly as possible, eat as much chocolate until their time runs out, and so on… It’s fast-paced and hilarious. My family have played this game for over 45 years!” How exactly does one use a knife and fork with six pairs of gloves on Paul?

Student communication team 

Man in swimming trunks sledging in snow

Savannah’s dad took sledging seriously!

Have you heard of frostbite? 

Savannah’s family like to strip things back for Christmas – literally: “There’s a grassy hill in the garden that we nicknamed ‘tabletop mountain,’ and if there’s snow on Christmas day, we all have to sledge down the hill in our swimsuits! Luckily my family also have a hot tub which we jump in immediately afterwards to get warm.” Bottoms up!

Some things can never be replaced.

Now, there’s something about a homemade gift or keepsake that you can’t put a price on. Greg’s mum created something of sentimental value for him that makes his Christmas special to this day: “Growing up, my brother and I always had our gifts in sacks that my mum made when we were very young. Each one has our initials sewn on and some stencils of bells, candy canes, trees and other Christmas items. It made it extra special that she’d gone to all the effort to make them for us, and we still have them to this day. Brings back many happy memories.” That’s so sweet, Greg.

What, you have to actually cook the turkey?

Parents wearing santa hats

Rose’s parents in the Christmas spirit.

There’s always someone in the family that forgets something, Rose’s mom just takes it to the next level… “Every year my mom leaves some integral part of Christmas dinner in the oven/microwave, and only realises when we’re halfway through dinner and suddenly shouts, “The mashed potatoes!” One year she forgot to cook the turkey entirely and we had dinner at 9pm. She also always wears a tiara to cook the dinner!” It sounds more like the dinner was so delicious, you didn’t miss the mash, Rose.

A keepsake for life.

As a child, Christmas is magical and full of surprises, but as an adult, it’s even more special because you get to create that sense of magic for others; and Riman has done just that for his two kids: “I’ve bought my children handmade, personalised Christmas baubles every year since they were born. I hope that when they’re older, they’ll hang them on their trees and continue the tradition with their children. I also have a personalised letter from Santa that’s delivered to them each year, and they keep every single one in a memory box. For myself though? It’s tradition to start every Christmas morning with a glass of champagne and a slice of pork pie.” Or two slices, because no one’s counting Riman!

Course production team 

A picture can tell a thousand stories.

Lauren, one of our very talented course designers, has always loved a pretty picture: “One of my earliest Christmas memories is having a paper advent calendar and getting that feeling of pure excitement when I open the door and the picture is revealed. It sounds silly but I still get that same magical, ‘small child at Christmas’ feeling whenever I see one of those, and you don’t see them around very often these days.” Most kids want chocolate, but Lauren found joy in art; it’s the simple things that matter most.

‘Don’t touch that food, it’s for Christmas’ (and other myths).

Russell tried to have self-restraint, but realised that his cooking was too good to resist: “Picture this, it’s the 23rd of December and it’s my turn to host Christmas, so I’m prepping the food early. I’ve cooked a ham, bought £30 worth of cheese, and I’m home alone. I decided, naturally, that the ham needed quality testing, so I cut the crusty end off, and tried it with some cheese. I ended up eating the whole lot, slathering stinky cheese on each slice, because why waste the crackers? Well anyway, the next day I had to buy (and COOK) another ham and tons more cheese. Nowadays I buy two hams and twice the amount of cheese – just in case.” We get it, Russell.

Student support team 

Would you rather have roast potatoes or spring rolls?

three generations of women family at Christmas

Katie’s memories with her nan over the holidays are precious to her.

When Sarah was younger, Christmas dinner was delivered: “Up until I was fifteen years old, my family Christmas tradition was to forget the turkey dinner and instead, order a big Chinese take away. My mum and I would order it at just before midnight on the 24th and then re-heat it in the oven on Christmas day!” So, no cooking, hardly any washing up, and no burnt parsnips? We can get onboard with that tradition Sarah!

Save a piece of coal for New Year’s. 

After Christmas, Katie’s family have a trick for making sure the new year is a good one. All you need is some coal: “To bring in good luck on New Year’s Eve, my nan used to make us go out the back door with a piece of coal just before midnight, and come in through the front door when the clock struck 12.” As we’re all hoping for a 2021 that’s better than this year in every way, why not give it a try?


We hope our team’s memories have given you a giggle and an opportunity to reflect on the times that have brought you joy, too. And if you’ve got a funny or memorable story, please do share it with us! Message us on social (@oxbridgehome) with the hashtag #XmasAntics.

Whatever you get up to, stay safe, and have a very merry Christmas.