Christmas In The UK-Typical British Christmas Traditions

Christmas in the UK 

Not all  Christmas traditions are the same. Christmas in England is more reminiscent of Christmas celebrations in the USA. Here you can find out what "Father Christmas" means, when the presents are unwrapped and what the significance of Boxing Day is.

Typical British Christmas traditions

Christmas trees and Christmas decorations

December 24: Preparation for Christmas

December 25th: Christmas party and gifts

December 26: Boxing Day

The King's Christmas speech on December 25th

Christmas Crackers - Crackers for Christmas

Food and drink: Turkey, Christmas pudding and fruitcake with frosting

Christmas Carols - Well-known English Christmas carols

Christmas in England 

Santa Claus is called Father Christmas in England

On December 24, children hang up red socks for small gifts

The gift-giving traditionally takes place on the morning of December 25th

The Queen's Christmas speech will be broadcast on Boxing Day

On Boxing Day, fellow human beings receive a thank you

Kissing under a mistletoe is a popular custom at the celebration of love

The traditional British Christmas meal is turkey

Typical British Christmas traditions

Christmas cake, turkey and mistletoe are just some of the festive decorations that go into a quintessentially British Christmas. With a richly set festive table, all physical well-being is taken care of. Christmas in Great Britain is not fundamentally different from the customs surrounding the most beautiful festival of the year in this country.

The key difference is gift-giving. While this takes place in some European countries just like Germany on the evening of December 24th, children have to wait until the morning of December 25th. 

Christmas trees and Christmas decorations

In England, you can find the Christmas tree in full splendour in the rooms from the beginning of December. At the same time, the premises are adorned with opulent decorations, for example, garlands around the bannisters and the door frames.

Decorating Christmas tree in London

Red, gold and silver are not popular colours for Christmas decorations in England. At Christmas, every family decorates its Christmas tree as it pleases. Traditionally, things are a bit more colourful in England than in other countries.

Fun Fact: The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree was started by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's German husband. He wanted to share the beloved tradition with his fellow English citizens.

For example, many Britons use different colors for Christmas tree decorations. Some Christmas trees have everything from green to orange to red. Ivy and mistletoe are popular decorative items that are often hung over door frames. A custom says that whoever stands under a mistletoe will soon be kissed.

The outside doors are often decorated with opulent door wreaths, the Christmas Wrath. The private houses and the cities are festively decorated, creating an extraordinary atmosphere. Here, too, large Christmas wreaths are hung in many suitable places.

December 24: Preparation for Christmas

On December 24th, the children prepare for the next morning's gift-giving and hang up red socks for small gifts. The adults also enjoy these traditions and wait for their red socks to be filled as well. It's really fun when the red socks are hung up by the chimney.

However, since not everyone in Great Britain has a chimney in the house, the Christmas stockings can also be hung up in any other suitable place, for example on the bannister. The gifts are given by  Santa Claus "Father Christmas" on the sleigh. This is drawn by reindeer.

Entry is via the fireplace or chimney. While the small gifts find space in the red socks, large gifts are placed under the Christmas tree, as in this country. Families with a real fireplace and young children burn their wish lists in the fireplace as Santa Claus can read smoke and bring the right presents.

This day is also used for baking. Once all the preparations are complete, the family sits near the decorated Christmas tree and whiles away its time with Christmas stories and television.

December 25th: Christmas party and gifts

The gift-giving takes place on the morning of December 25th. In the red Christmas stockings, the recipient will find sweets and small gifts such as toy cars, cosmetics or other useful products. Then the big Christmas presents are opened under the Christmas tree and examined. The feast starts at noon and can last well into the evening hours.

Many Britons spend the afternoon in front of the television to hear the Queen's Christmas speech (This year King will make it). Of course, a Christmas cake and obligatory tea should be present on this occasion. During the big Christmas dinner on the evening of December 25th, a colourful paper crown is traditionally worn in England.

December 26: Boxing Day

The second day of Christmas is known as Boxing Day and is all about charity. Translated from English, Boxing Day means "gift box day". The British use this contemplative day to express their appreciation and recognition to relatives and friends.

But it doesn't stop there, because other people also enjoy this charity at Christmas, such as the postman who delivers the Christmas cards, the friendly garbage collectors, nice neighbours, colleagues and teachers. Children play with their new toys and adults are happy to redeem vouchers because, unlike here, shops in England are already open again on December 26th.

There are two different theories as to the origin of "Boxing Day" concerns. But neither of them has anything to do with boxing. The first theory says that the servants greet their masters on December 25th. served, spent the second day with their families and received boxes of sweets from the gentlemen in return. According to the second theory, Boxing Day comes from donations for those in need collected in boxes throughout the year and then distributed on December 26th.

The King's Christmas speech on December 25th

The King or Queen's Christmas speech has been broadcast on December 25 since 1932. While the Queen's speech is of course televised as a tradition these days, the first speech by George V was still broadcast over the radio in 1932. While the younger generation is sometimes less positive about the monarchy, there are certainly many fans of the British Royals among the older people, who take note of special events such as weddings, births and christenings with interest. In this regard, it will be eagerly awaited whether the King will address current family events in her Christmas speech.

Christmas Crackers - Crackers for Christmas

These are colourful paper candies that pop when you pull the two ends apart. There are small hats, sayings, puzzles or fun toys in the crackers. In any case, these colourful crackers will cheer up any Christmas get-together.

Food and drink: Turkey, Christmas pudding and fruitcake with frosting

For Christmas dinner, most Brits love their Gregor, which is the name of the traditional turkey. The stately bird is filled with apples and vegetables. Served with Brussels sprouts and fried potatoes. A popular filling is flavorful ground beef. If you celebrate a little smaller, you serve a goose. The richly laid table is characterized above all by the numerous desserts. The most popular dessert is plum pudding (also called Christmas pudding).

Plum Pudding (Christmas Pudding) – a British speciality

However, this is not a pudding and a dessert, but a boiled or steamed mass of dried fruit, fat and bread rolls, which is doused with brandy or other alcohol. Alternatively, sweet fruit cake with icing is available for everyone. Mince pies are tartlets filled with raisins, nuts, candied fruit and alcohol. In addition to tea, chocolate is also a popular drink.

Christmas Carols - Well-known English Christmas carols

At Christmas time, small groups of carol singers parade through the streets to spread a happy and contemplative Christmas spirit. The so-called carols are cheerful Christmas carols that have a long tradition in England. The most famous songs include:

We wish you a Merry Christmas

Jingle Bells

Carol Of The Bells

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Thing! Dong! Merrily On High

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

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