“The And Game”—a game on Christmas Eve where everyone gets in a circle and passes little gifts around every time the word “and” is mentioned from the book The Night Before Christmas


The informant told me that every Christmas Eve, his family gets together with his wife’s side of the family at one of the relative’s house. After they eat dinner, but before they open presents they play what they call “The And Game.” Basically the host of the party buys an array of little gifts (like $5 dollar Best Buy gift certificates or boxes of chocolate) and wraps them up and gives one to each individual. They sit in a circle and pass the gifts around every time the word “and” is mentioned in the story The Night Before Christmas. One of the kids reads the story, making sure to emphasize each and, so that the passing goes at the right pace. There are enough “ands” in the story so that you don’t end up with the original gift you started with. He mentioned that they have been doing it for over 20 years now, and that he isn’t sure how it exactly started, but that every year they would read the book, and the game evolved out of it. He also said that it has become a pretty funny game because the children are getting older and the men like to try and unwrap the gifts before the game is over, so that you can peek at the gift. The men were unwrapping the gifts so much, that the informant’s wife decided to double wrap the and gifts one year, with packaging paper (virtually un-breakable) as the first layer and wrapping paper on top. When they attempted to unwrap the gifts, all they saw was brown paper.

I think that this ritual represents the many different customs people have around the holidays. The holiday season is full of different traditions families participate in, whether it be dealing with presents, Christmas decorations, or Christmas dinner. I think this particular ritual was born out of a tradition of reading the book, but when people got bored of the book or little kids got antsy to open the presents, the family adapted the tradition to a more interactive experience while keeping the tradition alive. This custom seems unique, as there is no real tie to it in anything online, however it does have similar elements to Hot Potato, in which a hot potato is passed around the group with the last person holding the potato when the music is turned off being out of the game.