5 Modern Traditions That Are Stupid BS
In the 17th century, brides used to pass tiny pieces of cake through their wedding rings and give them to guests -- not to be eaten, but to be kept as symbols of good luck. Tiny, rotting symbols of good luck that you're then saddled with all night, because Becky will freak out if she sees you tossing her lucky cake in the garbage. We don't do this anymore because it was a shitty, sticky tradition. The great thing about traditions is that they can be whatever we want! It's weird, then, that so many traditions we've come up with in more recent years just straight up suck. I'm talking stuff like ...
I'm not kidding when I say that gender reveals have caused more destruction than a Fast & Furious villain. People have crashed planes, blown up cars, caused wildfires, and otherwise racked up an intimidating body count. Yet we keep trying to throw big explosive parties over our unborn children's genital situations for no reason. We don't have to do this, and it doesn't seem like anyone's getting much out of it other than some social media pictures and cake. Which isn't going to pay for the new car you have to buy after blowing the old one up to make sure everyone knows your fetus has a vagina.
One of the big problems with gender reveals is that they aren't actually that. Gender is based on social and cultural differences between the sexes. What we can tell about a child at birth is their sex (what genitals they're born with). Gender refers to what societal norms are placed on them based on their sex. But we can't call it a sex reveal party, because that sounds like way too much fun. And probably not something you would invite your aunt and uncle to.
Disregarding all of the other issues with gender reveals, doesn't it seem just a bit coincidental that in the last decade, as definitions of gender have become more fluid, this trend to celebrate what your parents determine to be your gender at birth has become so popular? I'm sure those two things are in no way linked, right? In fact, the woman who takes credit for inventing the concept in 2008 now says she regrets it, and the daughter she originally had the party to celebrate is now gender-nonconforming.
It's vandalism so cute that Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijin made a rom-com about it. Love locks started gaining popularity because of the 2006 Italian YA novel I Want You. They're padlocks engraved with the name or initials of a couple which are locked onto a public landmark before the key is thrown away. This symbolizes the couple's willingness to litter for each other -- an important step in any relationship.
The tradition spread from Italy to the rest of Europe, and not too long ago, it finally made its way to the United States. You can now buy custom-engraved love locks on Amazon, and websites will point you to popular locations for placing them. However, if you research the locations in question, you'll find that a lot of them haven't taken kindly to the locks. In Chicago, they sent city workers with torches and bolt cutters to remove them. At one of the most popular locations for locks, the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, city officials got so sick of cutting them down that they yanked down the grated sides of the bridge and replaced them with unlockable sheets of Plexiglas.
You see, locks are heavy, and sections of the bridge were beginning to sag under so many of them, as they added up to four times the recommended weight limit. And since Paris is more interested in stable bridges than true love (no matter what the postcards say), they chucked over 1,000 love locks in the dump. Hopefully it was a super cute heart-shaped dump.
You know how at babies' first birthday parties, people used to let the little gremlins touch the cake with their filthy hands which had just touched every square inch of the floor? Well now they give the baby their own tiny cake (called a "smash cake") to destroy so that no one has to deal with their germs. This doesn't seem like such a bad idea, except the baby isn't supposed to eat the cake; they're supposed to wreck it until their entire body is covered in frosting and crumbs. Then their parents photograph it so they can later say, "Haha, look at how inefficiently you ate cake as a child!" As if this is the fault of the child, and not the parents whose responsibility it is to say, "Hey kid, frosting doesn't go in your belly button."
You'll note that this requires the purchase of two separate cakes. After all, you have to have a cake for the rest of the guests, otherwise I'm not going. Even weirder than the smash cake trend is that more recently, adults have been "recreating" smash cake photos (usually for their 30th birthdays). Given that the smash cake trend was relatively new even back in 2014, that means they're recreating something that definitely never happened to them.
Elf On The Shelf
Elf On the Shelf is not a time-honored holiday tradition. It's only been around since 2005. I've never owned one, but somehow I still know that it's an elf that is supposed to come alive at night and travel to the North Pole to inform Santa whether a child has been naughty or nice. I'm totally not a Christmas curmudgeon, but I've never liked Elf On the Shelf. It adds a lot of expense and stress to an already-stressful season.
It might not seem that expensive -- the book and doll can be purchased together for around $30 -- but it adds up once you get to all the accessories, like outfits, that are available for the doll. What if you run out of ideas for fun ways to pose the doll? You can buy a kit of ideas on Etsy, which comes with a few small accessories. That could make for a sizable investment during the most expensive time of the year.
That's not even including all of the ridiculous things you could potentially buy. There are places that sell a whole tiny wardrobe for the elves. He's one licensing deal away from a Barbie dream car. The perfect storm of Elf On the Shelf accessories is a tiny version of the doll sold by the American Girl store ... which is meant to be an accessory to a child's American Girl doll. This creates a nightmare scenario wherein a parent would be forced to move their child's doll every night, and then move the doll made for their child's doll as well. Plus that doll probably needs its own clothes, and its own tiny wardrobe, and maybe its own, even tinier elf! All to make your kids feel like they're living under the eye of a whimsical Stasi agent.
Unity Candle Ceremonies
This is a relatively new thing whereby, during a wedding, a bride and groom each take small candles lit by their parents, then use them to light one big candle, which is supposed to symbolize the joining of their lives, or souls (or bank accounts, if you're a pragmatist). You're probably thinking that this doesn't sound so bad. Most wedding traditions are antiquated and senseless anyway, and adding fire to something has never made it less awesome.
My issue with the unity candle ceremony is where it came from. In 1981, General Hospital had the characters Luke and Laura get married. To this day, the episode in question remains the highest-rated hour in soap opera history. Over 30 million people tuned in to watch. Elizabeth Taylor made a guest appearance to place a curse on the happy couple. Princess Diana supposedly sent champagne to the actors portraying Luke and Laura. It was a big, big deal, and the look of the wedding has influenced what women have wanted for their own weddings for decades.
All things considered, I wouldn't have a problem with this ... if it weren't for the fact that just two years before they were married, Luke had raped Laura. Yikes, that didn't age well, huh? Every time we make a wedding ceremony just a little longer this way, we're inadvertently nodding to the wedding of a rapist and his victim. So maybe just celebrate the melding of your energies by crashing two monster trucks into each other instead? It's no gender reveal, but people will probably get the point.
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