17 Quirky Family Traditions That Seemed Normal Until These People Grew Up

Every family has its fair share of quirks and traditions. Many of us, as children, thought our family practices were perfectly normal until we ventured into the wider world and realized otherwise. A recent social media thread shed light on some of the most peculiar family habits that left many scratching their heads and others laughing in disbelief. Let’s dive into the weird and wonderful world of families.

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#1: Santa’s Chaotic Departure

Santa holding a tablet and looking at the camera.
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“Catholic mother, Muslim dad; neither really practicing. We celebrated Christmas though. Instead of doing the “normal” Christmas stuff, my dad would loudly pretend to violently chase Santa out of the house by yelling and cussing him out and throwing his shoe at him; which we would later find in places like the fireplace.

Yes we DID get presents. The gag was that after my parents put them out, my dad would pretend to “catch” Santa in the act and boisterously chase him back up the chimney (hence the unforgettable image of the thrown shoe in the unlit fireplace.)

It’s adorable 30 years later. As a Santa-believing child, it was a little disconcerting. Especially since Christmas with my mother’s side of the family saw this Santa guy treated with such reverence.”

This delightful anecdote captures the charming blend of cultural traditions and familial humor during Christmas. The playful antics of the father, chasing Santa up the chimney, add a whimsical twist to the holiday festivities. It’s a heartwarming reminder of the enduring magic found in family traditions.

#2: The Hoarder Household

Compulsive hoarding disorder
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“Grew up in a hoarder house. I look back at my childhood now and can’t believe the cluttered nightmare I grew up in. Now I relish throwing things away when I’m done with them.”

This story illustrates the transformative power of personal experiences. Growing up in a cluttered environment, the individual now embraces minimalism as a source of peace and order. It’s a reminder of how our upbringing can shape our perspectives and habits, leading to significant changes in how we approach life as adults.

#3: Breakfast of Champions

pepsi can
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“Unlimited access to full sugar soda, specifically Pepsi. I never drink it now, but looking back at my 8-year-old self having a full can of Pepsi for breakfast blows my mind.”

Not all childhood traditions should be remembered fondly. While this user’s family didn’t realize the harm that a daily soda full of sugar can do, we’re glad that they’ve seen the light as an adult.

#4: Dinner Bell Dramatics

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“Using a ship’s bell to call for dinner. My parents got tired of yelling for us so they mounted a ship’s bell to the hallway wall. They would ring it for dinner and any other occasion when they needed our attention.

Like Pavlov’s dog, I get hungry whenever I hear a ship’s bell ring.”

The association between the sound of a ship’s bell and mealtime showcases how childhood routines can shape habits in adulthood. Above all, it highlights the power of repeated experiences in shaping our subconscious associations and how the brain forms connections between sounds and actions over time.

#5: River Adventures on a Leash
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“Before I was totally competent swimming by myself, my mom would put a life jacket on me, tie a long piece of nylon rope to it, and chuck me in the river. She’d basically swim me on a leash down the river for fun.

Mom, you are the classiest redneck.”

It’s amusing how parents find creative ways to teach life skills. This unconventional method shows a mix of safety and adventure. Family memories often include unique experiences that become cherished tales.

#6: Chili, Mashed Potatoes, and Apple sauce

Apple sauce
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“We only ever ate chili with mashed potatoes and apple sauce. I thought everyone did this till like grade 11, when I had dinner at a friends house. Her mom put out chili and I asked if they had any apple sauce. They all looked at me like I was nuts lol.”

It’s interesting how family food traditions can seem normal until exposed to other customs. This experience highlights the diversity of culinary habits among households. Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s perspective to see the peculiarity in our own traditions.

#7: Applause for the TV

2 scared boy and girl. Kids / children. Watching TV.
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“Everyone in my family used to clap and cheer along with the live studio audience on TV shows.”

Clapping along with the TV audience might seem odd to some, but for this user’s family, it was all part of the viewing experience. While friends found it strange, it added an interactive element to their television time that made each show feel like a live event.

#8: Thirsty? Tough Luck!

A child drinking water
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“We were not allowed to have a drink with our meals. It could be the driest food ever or you could be thirsty as all hell; nope, no water, finish the meal first.”

It’s curious how family rules around mealtime can vary. Restricting drinks during meals might reflect a belief in promoting better digestion or discipline at the table. However, it could also lead to discomfort or dehydration, especially if someone is thirsty.

#9: Birthday Blacklists

Birthday of female teenager, girl with cake and festive candles, room bouquet of flowers colored balloons background. Holiday, teens, age, celebration concept
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“Whenever it was one of our birthdays, my father made us keep a pen and pad next to the phone to list everyone who called and when. He’d then keep a “blacklist” of everyone who didn’t call, or didn’t call in a timely fashion (for example, the closer you were related, the earlier in the day you should call under his rules). I didn’t realize this was messed up until I was an adult and had a lot of therapy.”

This story highlights the impact of childhood experiences on our understanding of healthy boundaries. The practice of tracking and scrutinizing others’ actions can foster anxiety and insecurity, affecting familial relationships. It teaches the importance of recognizing and addressing unhealthy patterns passed down through generations for personal growth and healing.

#10: Family Massage Train

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“Giving each other back massages. My sisters and I grew up in a house where my mom & dad would always offer to rub our backs or play with our hair to help us wind down for bedtime…so we grew up thinking that it’s normal to exchange daily back rubs with your family.

Is this weird or normal? I still don’t know. But my sisters & I still do this when we go visit each other and we seem to be the only family who does. I never see my husband’s sisters start a back rub train on the couch while they’re watching a movie during Christmas break. It’s just us. lol. Starting to think that we are the weird ones.”

This tradition of exchanging back massages illustrates how family upbringing influences our understanding of intimacy and affection. While it might seem unusual compared to other families’ customs, it’s a reflection of the close bond and comfort level shared among siblings. Cultural backgrounds and individual family dynamics often shape these practices, highlighting the diversity of familial interactions.

#11: Whistling Communication

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“Whistling for each other. My mom didn’t like yelling up the stairs. Apparently an easier solution for walking up them and addressing whomever she needed, was to stand at the bottom and give a couple of sharp whistles. We would approach the top of the stairs, and from the bottom she’d tell us what she needed.

Time for dinner? Whistle. I want you to come downstairs? Whistle.

When I whistled for my husband once, he got irritated and said he wasn’t a dog. I thought about it and I was like… huh. I guess you’re right. I now feel like whistling is disrespectful, and I’d never do it. At the same time, I have no problem that this is how our house went. It was more peaceful than shouting, and less work than walking. Just one of those weird family quirks, I guess!”

This story highlights how different households develop unique methods to communicate. While whistling might seem unusual to some, for others, it’s simply a practical and peaceful alternative to shouting or walking upstairs. Such quirks add charm and character to family dynamics.

#12: Bread Bacteria Toasting

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“My parents are really germaphobic and my dad think he has to ‘kill the bacteria’ on the bread when he buys it fresh, so he puts it in the oven to toast and almost burns it. He thinks that whoever did the bread sneezed or accidentally spit on it. We eat bread almost everyday and I thought everybody did this; this is insane.”

For one family, buying fresh bread meant subjecting it to a fiery fate in the oven. It’s a practice that may seem extreme to some but seemed perfectly normal within this user’s family.

#13: Pet Rocks and Their Names

Pet Rock
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“We had pet rocks, named them.”

This user’s childhood experience of having pet rocks showcases the creativity and imagination often found in children. While unconventional, this activity provided companionship and entertainment, demonstrating the ability to find joy in simple things. It reflects the innocence of youth, where even rocks can become cherished friends.

#14: Edible Gardens

edible flower
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“Eating flowers. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, mostly in her garden. Some days, we’d look for fairies, but for the most part, I remember her pointing to this flower and saying, “You can eat that” And I would.”

Spending time in the garden became a special bonding activity for one user, filled with magical moments and gentle guidance from her grandmother. It illustrates how simple interactions with loved ones can foster appreciation for the natural world and create lasting memories.

#15: The Hug-Free Household

Multicultural friends hugging and looking at camera
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“Family members hugging each other. First time I saw a friend’s parents and grandparents hugging, I thought they were a weird family. To this day, my folks have never hugged me that I have a memory of.”

While some families embrace physical closeness through hugs, others may demonstrate love through different gestures or actions. This contrast highlights the diversity of familial norms and traditions, shaping individuals’ perceptions of intimacy and connection.

#16: Summer Living Al Fresco

Trees in a Forest in Sunlight
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One user’s childhood experience of living outdoors during the summer months under a chosen tree speaks to a unique and idyllic upbringing. With access to ample land, they had the freedom to immerse themselves in nature for extended periods. This lifestyle likely fostered a deep connection to the outdoors, offering countless adventures and memories beneath the shade of their favorite tree.

#17: Grandma’s Grilling Sessions

Senior grey-haired woman wearing casual clothes and glasses skeptic and nervous, disapproving expression on face with crossed arms. negative person. Old. Angry / upset.
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“My grandma used to give me math quizzes when I visited because she didn’t believe I was smart enough to get the grades I was getting. I thought it was totally normal for a while to quiz people so that they could prove “x” skill. Glad I realized that was b* before I hit adulthood.”

Grandma’s house visits are normally about cookies and delicious food, not math tests. This user’s suspicious grandma may have seemed normal at the time, but it’s certainly not what most kids expect from grandparents.

Source: Reddit.

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