Christmas cards that shocked the web

For many families in America, Christmas is the time to send out cards with families dressed in matching jumpers or festive novelty outfits.

However, some stand out from the crowd and thanks to social media, these cards are seen by many more people than just those on the original mailing list.

BBC Trending looks at some of the season's most-talked about images.

'Peace on Earth'

Image copyright Facebook/Hannah Hawkes
Image caption This controversial Christmas photo polarised social media

Meet the Johnson family from Louisiana. What began as an attempt at a humorous card soon spiralled into an online debate. Some defended the family's right to portray themselves in whatever way they choose. Others argued it was sexist, with one user writing: "Nothing funny about teaching your daughters they have less value than their brother. This is terrible."

The photo was shared nearly 45,500 times on Imgur, prompting photographer Hannah Hawkes to respond to the number of comments she was receiving.

"After being silent, now isn't that ironic, I would like to speak," Hawkes wrote on her Facebook page. "I do not support abuse, or the degradation of women. My controversial photo was taken by request by the family, and was in no way meant to promote abuse. This photo was taken with humour in mind."

'Ho Ho Ho'

Image copyright Instagram/Natalie Yoshida

Though antlers and Christmas trees feature in the Yoshida family's Christmas photo, their portrait was far from traditional. "Disclaimer: this was my idea I want the credit," wrote daughter Natalie Yoshida when she posted the holiday snap on Instagram.

The photo was shared on Imgur and has since been viewed over 2.7 million times. Some criticised the Florida family, citing allusions to prostitution or incest, with one Imgur user writing "as a new father, I can't imagine a situation when I'd call her a ho." Others praised the comedy of the setup, writing that it was "a great play on words".

In response to the reaction the photo created, Natalie told reporters at Buzzfeed that their friends all understand their family's humour. "We are the Yoshidas and we are weird," she said.

'It's up to Americans to protect America'

Image copyright Facebook/Michele Fiore

In a year dominated by debates over gun control, Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore made her stance on the second amendment known by posing alongside her family with guns in hand.

Fiore has made her support for guns abundantly clear, frequently posing with firearms on social media, her campaign page, and the "Walk the Talk Second Amendment Calendar."

The photo was posted on Facebook before the San Bernardino shootings, but has received criticism in light of the number of mass shootings this year. One user commented, "Each to his own but I think the timing of this post and card is insensitive given the recent shootings in your country and around the world. A little compassion would go a long way."

Others praised her for her patriotism and for showing pride in being a gun owner.

Elf on the shelf

Image copyright Facebook/Megan Wynberg

After Canadian parents Joe and Megan Wynberg saw lots of photos and cards inspired by The Elf on the Shelf, a toy parents move around the house to encourage good behaviour around Christmas, they decided to take the concept one step further.

The couple took photos of Joe or Megan in various situations around the house, posing as a human Elf on the Shelf. Perhaps the most challenging pose involved Joe hanging upside down outside their window.

Though the couple only planned to take a few photos of Joe in various situations, the couple have produced 18 photos since the end of November thanks to an enthusiastic response on Facebook.

The fake family

Image copyright Facebook/Joshua Brassow

Michigan college student Joshua Brassow, hadn't seen many of his extended family in almost a decade, so the annual Christmas card gave him the chance to have some fun.

Brassow hired a fake family to pose with him, encouraging his faux wife to look as intimidating as possible alongside his two supposed teenage sons. He wanted the picture to look plausible, writing "I want to baffle my aunts, uncles and especially my grandparents."

The photo has now been seen over 1.5 million times on Imgur, though Brassow hopes that his relatives will still be surprised.

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