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Explanation of Christmas traditions in the U.K.

santas head popping out of chimney
Christmas Traditions

Christmas celebrations differ throughout the world but I can only
speak of those carried out in the U.K.  In fact, that is probably not even true as I
can really only comment on things we do (or did) in my own particular family.

Infant and primary schools throughout the U.K. put on a Nativity
plays depicting the birth of Jesus which are performed by the children themselves and
attended by their parents.

Carol services take place in schools and churches.

Children write letters to Father Christmas which are usually posted
to him direct.  I expect these days they send him an email!!!

Groups of carol singers go from house to house collecting for

Our houses are decorated with various forms of streamer like
decorations, christmas trees (which can be real fir/pine trees or imitation) and sometimes
some “greenery”. The trees are adorned with all types of baubles and fairy
lights.  The presents these days are usually too big to place on the tree so they are
put around the bottom.  Christmas cards are either placed around the room or hung on

It is customary for us to give our presents on Christmas Day but the
time differs from family to family.  When the children are young Father Christmas (or
Santa Claus) generally leaves these gifts overnight whilst they are asleep. 

christmas stockings

Originally, a sock was left at the foot of the bed which was filled
with satsumas, apples, nuts, and very small gifts such as pencils, playing cards etc.
  Then family gifts were usually placed under a christmas tree and given either
during the morning or at tea time (i.e. early evening).

Unfortunately, however, in today’s materialistic
society, even a pillow case is not big enough for the overnight presents and then others
are expected during the day!

Some families leave out a little treat for Father Christmas, this is
normally something like a mincepie and a glass of sherry.  Mind you, I think this has
probably now changed to a pint of Guiness.

A “traditional” Christmas lunch comprises roast turkey,
roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, other green vegetables, gravy, cranberry and/or bread
sauce.  This is followed by Christmas pudding
(originally known as plum pudding) and mincepies with cream
and/or brandy/whisky butter. 

Plum pudding only became connected with
Christmas when it was introduced to the Victorians by Prince Albert.  Silver coins
used to be put into the mixture and was said to bring good luck to whoever found the coin
in their portion.  This tradition is not so prevalent now due to the inherent danger
of swallowing the coins.  All members of the family make wishes whilst stirring the
pudding mixture prior to cooking.

Mince pies are tarts made with pastry
and filled with “mincemeat”.  This is a mixture
made of dried fruits, sugar and spices.  The use of beef suet in this mixture is
reminiscent of the days when meat was always included in recipes – hence its name.  
It was originally made to preserve meat through the winter.

Other food we often eat at Christmas include Christmas cake, which is
a rich fruit cake which is then covered with marzipan and icing:  yule logs (a swiss
roll, which is a sponge cake rolled up with either jam or buttercream, covered in
chocolate icing made to represent a log): ham, pork, and sausage rolls (sausages or
sausage meat, wrapped around with pastry).

Christmas crackers containing trinkets, mottos and party
hats. are
placed on the table and are usually “pulled” prior to the meal so that the party
hats can be worn by all.   Sometimes a table decoration is placed in the centre
of the dining table.  This can be flowers, frosted
or fresh fruit or even a novelty.