The nights are longer, the days are shorter, and the weather is turning cold. This can only mean one thing! Christmas is around the corner. Christmas celebrations start at the beginning of December and continue until mid-January. It is the most wonderful time of the year and time to be with family and friends. But what traditions do we have here in England?
For the weeks before Christmas, we decorate our houses with a beautiful Christmas tree decorated with baubles and tinsel. The Christmas tree tradition started when Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, brought a German tradition to England. When people saw a painting of the tree behind Albert and Victoria, in 1846, everybody wanted one. The tree was originally lit but this caused many fires in people’s homes, so they got replaced by electric lights.
We also eat mince pies. Originally filled with real meat, such as lamb, they used to be a sign of wealth to show that people had money. It became a Christmas tradition in the middle ages. It was said if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas day until the twelfth night (5th of January) then it would bring happiness for the next year. Now the mince pie is a buttery pastry filled with dried fruits and spices. It is a desert enjoyed hot or cold with cream and can be enjoyed at any time over the Christmas period.
It all starts on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December, when little boys and girls (and adults too) get excited for the arrival of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) at 12am, but only if they have been good. The Children go to bed with stockings hanging over the fire place, and sacks by the tree to be filled with lots of toys and goodies. They wait patiently and try to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas and his 8 reindeer, pulling his sleigh.
On Christmas morning, the next day, the celebrations begin, and the overjoyed children and adults rip open the wrapping of their presents to see what Father Christmas has brought them. After opening the presents comes the big Christmas lunch, usually eaten around 2pm. The lunch is similar to a normal Sunday roast but much, much bigger. We eat roast turkey with cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, vegetables (including delicious Brussel sprouts) and gravy, to name but a few things.
We pull Christmas crackers, filled with a toy, a crown and a terrible joke. This tradition started in the 1850’s when confectioner, Tom Smith started to add a motto to his bon-bons, which were soon replaced with toys.
We then eat Christmas pudding covered in cream or brandy butter. After the lunch, the Queen makes her annual Christmas speech to talk about all the things that happened during the year. After this we all watch a Christmas film and fall asleep on the sofa.
Boxing day is celebrated on the 26th of December and is similar to Christmas day just unfortunately fewer presents. We receive only one present. Many people believe this is because the children receive so many toys they do not know which one to play with. We again have turkey (which will be the main food for the next few days).
So, Merry Christmas and we hope you have as much fun as we do (but don’t eat too much turkey)!
From the lovely team at TEG English Southampton!