Christmas in the United Kingdom
In the UK (or Great Britain), families often celebrate Christmas together, so they can watch each other open their presents!
Most families have a Christmas Tree (or maybe even two!) in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Christmas Trees were first popularised the UK by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Prince Albert was German, and thought that it would be good to use one of his ways of celebrating Christmas in England.
Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are also sometimes used to decorate homes or other buildings.
Most villages, towns and cities are decorated with Christmas lights over Christmas. Often a famous person switches them on. The most famous Christmas lights in the UK are in Oxford Street in London. Every year they get bigger and better. Thousands of people go to watch the big ‘switch on’ around the beginning of November.
Like a lot of countries, Nativity Plays and Carol Services are also very popular at Christmas time. The Church that I go to always has a Carols by Candlelight Service where the church is only lit up by candles. It is a very special service and always makes me feel very Christmassy! Lots of other British churches also have Carols by Candlelight and Christingle services.
Children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung up by the fire or by the children’s beds on Christmas Eve. Children sometimes leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas to eat and drink when he visits them. Now, some people say that a non-alcoholic drink should be left for Santa as he has to drive!
Children write letters to Father Christmas/Santa listing their requests, but sometimes instead of putting them in the post, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draught carries the letters up the chimney and Father Christmas/Santa reads the smoke.
There are some customs that only take place, or were started, in the UK. Wassailing is an old anglo-saxon custom that doesn’t take place much today. Boxing Day is a very old custom that started in the UK and is now taken as a holiday in many countries around the world.
In the UK, the main Christmas Meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day. It’s normally roast turkey, roast vegetables and ‘all the trimmings’ which means vegetables like carrots & peas, stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages. It’s often served with cranberry sauce and bread sauce. Traditionally, and before turkey was available, roast beef or goose was the main Christmas meal. One vegetable that is often at Christmas in the UK are brussel sprouts. I love them but lots of people don’t!
Dessert is often Christmas Pudding. Mince pies and lots of chocolates are often eaten as well!
Trifle is also a popular dessert at Christmas. It’s made in a large bowl and consists of a layer of sponge cake (or sponge fingers) at the bottom of the bowl (which is often soaked in sherry or brandy) then there’s a layer of fruit (normally suspended in a fruit flavored jelly) and it’s topped with a layer of custard and then whipped cream. In Scotland there’s a variation called ‘Tipsy Laird’ which uses whiskey to soak the sponge and the fruit are raspberries.
The dinner table is decorated with a Christmas Cracker for each person and sometimes flowers and candles.
The UK is also famous for Christmas Cake – some people love it and some people really don’t like it! It’s traditionally a rich fruit cake covered with marzipan and icing – and often top with Christmas themed cake decorations like a spring of holly.
Christmas celebration in Britain is one of the tourist attraction of the world. The huge celebration with tradition and passion makes the festival a joyful event in the heart of British and also the among the tourist. From the end of the November the Christmas celebration in the Britain gets started. The Christmas celebration in Britain is mainly influenced by the Victorian era. Before 1840s nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. Victoria’s rule started in the year 1837. This era changed the face of Christmas celebration. The book “Christmas Carol”, published in 1843, by the famous author Charles Dickens actually encouraged rich Victorians to give their wealth by giving money and gifts to the poor. Thee middle class people started giving gifts in the Christmas day to the poor and also exchanged gifts. Victorian age allowed middle class families in England and Wales to take time off work and celebrate over two days, 25 th December as the Christmas Day and 26th December as Boxing Day.
The Boxing Day, December 26th
The Boxing Day, earned its name as the day servants and working people opened the boxes in which they had collected gifts and money from their rich employer. On that day the railways allowed the country people who had moved into the towns and cities in search of work to return home for celebrating Christmas with their family.
The Gifts has become the part of the Christmas Celebration in Britain After the Victorian age the toy has become a popular gift for the children. The stocking became the part of Christmas tradition. Now Christmas gifts are specially designed for the Christmas.
The gift bringers Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring.
Christmas celebration starts from the Christmas eve with the traditional family dinner. The traditional Christmas dinner menu must have the turkey.
After the coming of the penny-post in Britain the way for the sending of the first Christmas cards to wish merry Christmas has become the custom. Like this during the centuries Christmas crackers, carol, Christmas parred have been included in the Christmas celebration in Britain.