Christmas is just around the corner. Lights have been put up, Christmas trees decorated and Christmas jumpers bought. Let’s check out some typically British things to expect this Christmas.
- Christmas Dinner – What would Christmas be without a lot of food? Christmas dinner is usually eaten at lunchtime or in the early afternoon. Of course, most families have their own interpretation of a Christmas dinner but it normally involves turkey with all the trimmings including; potatoes (roasted, mashed, boiled or all three), Brussel sprouts, roasted parsnips, carrots, stuffing, bread sauce and gravy. The average Christmas dinner contains 956 calories and that’s before you start on dessert!
- Christmas pudding – Christmas pudding is a rich, fruit pudding that is traditionally eaten on Christmas day. The pudding must be made a long time before Christmas day as the fruit should be soaked in alcohol for a number of days and, once made, the pudding is left to enrich in flavour. It is customary for everyone who is making the pudding to take turns to stir the mixture and make a wish for the following year. In the past, the mixture was always stirred from east to west in honour of the journey made by the three wise men in the nativity story.
- The Queen’s Speech – Every year on Christmas day at 3pm the Queen gives a speech. Traditionally it listed the laws that the government intends to pass over the coming year but now it also gives details about important dates in the coming year.
- Mistletoe – Mistletoe is a plant with a green stem, evergreen leaves and white berries. It is customarily hung in the doorway of homes. When two people pass underneath the mistletoe it is customary to kiss one another. Traditionally a berry had to be removed from the plant before someone could be kissed, although nowadays there is no limit to the number of kisses that can be given!
- Christmas crackers – A Christmas cracker is a colourful cardboard tube with a banger inside that, when pulled apart, the cracker makes a bang. They were created in the middle of the 18th century by an English sweet maker. The cracker contains a paper crown, a small toy and a joke or a riddle. Christmas crackers are placed on the table where Christmas dinner is eaten and usually pulled before the meal. It is said that the crowns represent the crowns worn by the three kings. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, but this year you can be the king at the table if you get your hands on some Christmas crackers.
- Boxing day – The 26th December, better known as Boxing Day, is traditionally a time to give gifts to tradesmen, servants and friends. Nowadays, Boxing Day is spent with friends and, in many shops, marks the beginning of the sales.
There are a number of ways that you can get into the Christmas spirit here in Bristol. Bristol hosts a number of markets over the festive period, including the German market in Broadmead and the Christmas themed market on Corn Street; both great choices for a cheeky mulled wine after English class. Some of the theatres across Bristol including; Bristol Hippodrome, the Tobacco factory and Bristol Old Vic will be showing glittering performances of Christmas classics to warm even the coldest heart! Finally, if Christmas is not the time for ice skating then I don’t know when is; ice rinks can be found at both Cribbs Causeway shopping mall and at Millennium Square.
In the words of Judy Garland ‘Have yourself a Merry little Christmas’!