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Your Complete Guide to British Christmas Traditions

"TIS THE SEASON Britons celebrate Christmas in all sorts of ways, but some customs are unique to England. Want to make your British Christmas authentic? We break down a few popular traditions, some of which aren't exclusively British, but certainly have a British twist. Your Guide to a Uniquely British Christmas THE GREATER HOLIDAY SEASON Outside of the home and hearth, a few traditions are symbolic of Christmas, good will, and holiday cheer. Mince Pies and Mulled Wine Pantomime Christmas Cards Often the first sign of Christmas, mince pies are served seemingly everywhere, often paired with mulled wine. It's said to be good luck to eat one a day in December. Pantomime is a popular form of theatre that many British families with young children attend during Christmas time-one of the most entertaining holiday activities for children. The very first Christmas card originated in Victorian England, and many Britons continue the tradition today by sending seasons greetings and well-wishes to family and friends. AROUND THE HOUSE At home, Britons decorate their living spaces with items unique to the season. Many of the holiday's decorations are deeply rooted in history. DECEMBER Advent Calendar Advent calendars count down the days until Christmas in many British homes. They're either store-bought or handmade and reveal a Christmas scene or chocolate behind each day's door. Christmas Tree Britons decorate a Christmas tree and hang evergreen branches in their homes. Many trace the tradition back to 1841, when Queen Victoria and Price Albert kept a tree in Windsor Castle. Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe Traditionally, greenery was hung to lift Britons' spirits during winter, reminding them spring wasn't far away. Today, holly, ivy, and mistletoe decorations are symbolic of Christmas. CHRISTMAS EVE It's the night before Christmas and what are Britons doing? Caroling, preparing for Father Christmas, and making final preparations for the holiday. Santa Claus or Father Christmas Carolers Midnight Mass Carolers mark the holiday by going house to house, ringing bells and singing carols. Popular carols include "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Children write letters to Santa Claus/Father Christmas in hopes he'll visit and leave gifts. The letters either are burned in the fireplace or left out for Santa with treats for him and his For many, the midnight mass symbolises the start of the holiday celebration. Families attend together to begin their Christmas celebrations. reindeer. CHRISTMAS DAY It's finally here! Christmas Day is spent with family and friends, unwrapping gifts, enjoying a Christmas dinner, and, for some, attending mass and listening to the Queen's address. Presents Families exchange gifts while children unwrap presents that Santa has left. Children go through the stockings they hung, which are filled with oranges, apples, chocolates, and toys. Christmas Church Service Though church attendance has waned over the last few decades, Christmas Day church services are typically very crowded. Many families start their day of festivities with Christmas mass. The Queen's Christmas Speech Britons tune in for the annual Christmas Day speech, which began in 1932. Typically 10 million viewers watch on TV, and 2 million listeners tune in on the radio. THE CHRISTMAS DINNER Christmas dinner is typically held around midday on Christmas Day. Friends and loved ones gather to celebrate the season with a host of uniquely British holiday offerings. Smoked Salmon with Roasted Turkey Chipolatas Roasted Parsnips Brussels Sprouts Buttered Brown Bread Roasted Potatoes Christmas Pudding Christmas Cake Christmas Crackers BOXING DAY The day after Christmas, Britons celebrate a uniquely British holiday: Boxing Day. Here's how it's typically observed. National Holiday A Day for Charity A Day for Sport The day is designated a bank holiday and extends the holiday celebrations one day longer. It's a secular holiday spent visiting, watching sports, or shopping. The day is spent visiting friends and exchanging small gifts. Some say the holiday began to observe when churches opened their alms boxes and gave money to the poor. Many major sporting events take place on Boxing Day, so observers gather to watch professional football matches and cheer on their favorite teams. SOURCES: GOUK.ABOUT.COM, CHRISTMASARCHIVES.COM, CHRISTMAS-ALMANAC.COM, TLC, EHOW.COM, ESSENTIALLY-ENGLAND.COM, LEARN ENGLISH NETWORK

Your Complete Guide to British Christmas Traditions

shared by kcatoto on Dec 28
With the Holidays fast approaching, we thought it would be a great idea to gather up the best in British Christmas Traditions and present them in a fun graphic. What’s your favorite British Christm...




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