If you have international friends, you probably already know that the rituals and traditions kept on one of the most popular holidays all over the world – Christmas, may vary depending on the country you are celebrating it in. Not all nations wait for Father Christmas / Santa to travel from the North Pole and bring presents to the kids by sneaking through the chimney. Not all families around the world bake ginger cookies, and not all nations eat a vegan meal the night before Christmas.
The same holiday can be celebrated in many different ways, but to do it in the style of the Brits, you’d better read the following post. It will outline some of the major traditions which Englishmen stick to when preparing for the winter holidays.
Table of Contents
Many families in Britain have these. Today, calendars can be found in many different forms. For children, there are Advent Calendars with chocolate inside every window. You can start opening their doors on December 1st, and they keep opening 1 door each day until the 25th.
Christmas Trees and Presents
Christmas tree decorating dates back to the 19th century. Real or artificial, heavily decorated pine or fir trees usually include ornaments, garlands, toys, paper, and many other items. Every home must have its very own Christmas tree delivered because this is the place where all the presents are left – right under the tree.
Gift-giving is another British tradition that has endured for decades. It is probably one of the reasons for the December shopping craze. You can choose from thousands of interesting options when shopping for a gift – from souvenirs to clothes to unique personalised gifts. The presents are opened on Christmas day when the whole family gathers around the Xmas tree.
Holly is an evergreen plant that produces berries in the winter. These berries are believed to have magical powers. These evergreens were a very important part of pagan religion and are still used in Christmas celebrations.
Mistletoe is also an important plant. Like holly, it bears fruit during the Christmas season. Today, mistletoe is hung in many British homes and offices. People who meet under the mistletoe have to kiss no matter whether they are relatives, friends, or strangers. This tradition is a Scandinavian one which was transferred to the Isles.
Santa Claus is the symbol of Christmas that has been most used by businesses to encourage people to spend money. The commercial image of the older man with a white beard and moustache is now everywhere around us. Some people call him Santa, others Father Christmas or Saint Nicolas. He is well-known under different names.
Crafting and Writing Christmas Cards
Handmade cards have always been a nice holiday tradition. In the century of technology and internet communication, mail is starting to substitute the original Christmas card exchange. Luckily, Britain is a country of tradition, and many families still prefer to design, write, and post their very own seasonal greeting cards. For this reason, the week before Christmas is usually the busiest period for the British Post. As for the letters to Father Christmas. Luckily, many postmen do not get posted to Lapland but are tossed directly into the fire. Burning these letters is believed to have sent them directly to the North Pole.
In the UK, these are not hung over the fireplace but around the bed instead. Isn’t it much better to wake up surrounded by presents on Christmas morning? They can be filled with toys and ornaments, but most often, stockings are a nice place to store chocolate and candy.
Pulling Christmas Crackers at the Christmas Dinner
Although a cracker may not seem to you the most festive thing that you can serve on your Christmas dinner table, in Britain, this is not something that you can eat. A cracker is a brightly decorated cardboard tube filled with fun prizes. When grabbed and pulled apart, a very small explosive placed inside makes a strange cracking noise, which gives its name. Inside this cracker, you can usually find a paper crown, a plastic prize, and a funny joke. The colourful paper crowns inside the cracker are mandatory to wear during dinner.
If your mom did not make one of these for you when you were a child, then you have missed a very nice tradition. These typically British pies are prepared from pastry, flour and mincemeat (usually from a jar). The pastry is first rolled, then you need to cut several big circles and the same number of small circles. All the big circles are afterwards placed in a tin and then filled with the mincemeat. Then, the small circles should be positioned on top of the filled-up big circles. They are later baked in the oven for about 15 minutes. Minced pies and brandy are left for Father Christmas because they are the most typical UK treats.
Typically British, this cocktail combines egg yolk, brandy, vanilla liqueur, and lemonade. While many people think this is a retro drink, its sales are rapidly increasing every year before Christmas. People still prefer it to drinking scotch or other strong spirits because it is a light cocktail.
Elevate your dessert game with a traditional Christmas pudding. This rich, fruity, and often boozy dessert is steeped in history and tradition. Serve it with brandy butter or custard for an indulgent treat that embodies the spirit of the season.
Famous “Gravy” and “Bread sauce” are two examples. Gravy is normally made from the juices which naturally run while you are cooking. It is thickened with wheat flour or cornstarch. They add texture to it. The bread sauce can be either cold or warm. It is a savoury sauce thickened with bread, which gives it its name. These two sauces are always served with the main meal.
The Brits love this day because it allows them to shop for different items without being worried about their budget. During this day, people can shop at bargain prices and enjoy discounts in various shopping centres. It is very similar to American Black Friday, but it happens after everyone has already opened their boxed Christmas presents anyway.
Taking Down the Christmas Tree
Sometimes, the entire family gets involved in this ritual, especially if the tree is big and heavy. There is a belief that keeping a Xmas tree for a period longer than 12 days after Christmas day may bring bad luck for the rest of the year. Therefore, the ornaments and decorations from the green pine should be removed.
This Christmas, infusing your celebrations with British traditions adds charm and joy to the festivities. From the twinkling lights and classic decorations to indulgent culinary delights and heartwarming customs, embracing these elements will surely British up your Christmas celebration this year.
Bring your loved ones together, raise a toast with mulled wine, pull those Christmas crackers, and savour every moment of this magical season. Enjoy your Christmas, and let your festivities be filled with warmth, laughter, and the true British spirit!