16 Facts about Christmas traditions in Britain
Understand the basics
When is the main celebration: 25th December
Main dish: roast turkey & christmas pudding
Main decorations: Christmas tree, holly & ivy, lights
Who brings the presents: Father Christmas
Christmas Traditions in Britain
1. Christmas cards, whilst present in other countries, are extremely popular with families commonly receiving and sending over 100 cards, which are subsequently used to decorate the house.
2. In schools, Nativity Plays, are very popular at Christmas time with parents going watch their children as one of the many characters of the nativity (I think I was a tree, or perhaps a sheep).
3. Carol singers can often be found in December weekend mornings outside shopping centres, usually connected to the local church, and almost always collecting money for charity.
4. On Christmas Eve children put Christmas stockings (a big sock) at the end of the bed, or more traditionally above the fireplace, and by morning they are filled with presents from Father Christmas.
5. In Britain it is customary for children to leave a little drink and some food for Father Christmas before they go to bed on Christmas Eve. Many families leave a glass of whiskey, sherry or brandy, with a heartier snack, like a mince pie, and carrots for the reindeer.
6. Presents are a big deal in Britain, with families spending collectively over £22 billion in the run-up to the holiday. Each family has there own traditions but it is common to open them on Christmas Day morning.
7. Food is eaten on Christmas Day (25th December) in the daytime.
8. Traditionally the main course is roast turkey with cranberry sauce, served with roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire puddings and other vegetables. Desert is Christmas pudding, a heavy steamed pudding made of dried fruit, suet, and a touch of flour.
9. Christmas crackers, a kind cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, are a traditional sight on any British Christmas table. The crackers usually include small toys, jokes and paper crowns and when pulled by two people, often with crossed armed, they make a banging sound.
10. Every Christmas Day at 3 p.m. the queen addresses the nation in what is known as the Queen’s Speech. The queen normally speaks about important events in the British Commonwealth as well as some personal words about the festive period.
11. The day after Christmas is known as ‘Boxing Day‘ and is spent in a number of different ways. Many families go for a walk in the countryside, others go to the football while more still spend it with their families.
12. Alcohol is commonly consumed with both friends and family, so as they say, Drink, and be Merry!
13. It is considered bad luck to still have the Christmas decorations up after 5th January (the night before Epiphany) or as its commonly known 12th Night.
14. The iconic Christmas tree that stands proudly in Trafalgar Square in London is a tradition in itself. The tree is a gift from the people of Norway to the UK for British support during the Second World War and since 1947 has been decorated with white lights.
15. Staying in London, Each Christmas Oxford Street is decorated with festive lights and at the beginning of each December a celebrity switches them on and they remain lit until Twelve Night.
16. Christmas Pantomimes are a uniquely British experience. Dating back to medieval times, today’s incarnation are a much camper affair includes songs, slapstick comedy, dancing, gender-crossing actors, and topical humour, all using loosely as their base well-known fairy tales. Audience participation is obligatory and they are expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and heckle the performers..