Season’s greetings from England!
At International Education Week in the UK we love to consider tradition, how traditions are formed, the cultural significance, and how traditions differ across cultures.
Let's take a closer look at British Christmas traditions.......
Our Christmas feast normally includes a Turkey, pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon) cranberry sauce, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, veggies, sprouts and chestnuts, and lashings of gravy (sauce made from meat juices and flour).
This is followed by Christmas pudding made with brandy or whiskey and soft fruits like dates, sultanas, raisins and cherries (the Christmas pudding is set on fire when it’s served), Christmas cake and mince pies.
Christmas drinks include – bucks fizz (champagne and orange juice) mulled wine, port, sherry and Baileys.
Kiss me…. Did you know that the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originated in England. Each kiss required a berry to be plucked until none remained.
Christmas Cards - The custom of sending Christmas cards to friends and family also originated in Britain.
Boxing Day - the tradition of "Christmas boxes," gifts of money or goods given to tradespeople and servants on the day after Christmas to take home to their families. Now on boxing day – Britains celebrate with family dinners.
Pull a Christmas Cracker - Christmas crackers are found at the side of each plate during Christmas dinner, they are brightly coloured paper tubes twisted at both ends. A person pulls each end of the cracker and with a ‘pop’ your paper crown and gift will fall out along with a joke!
Christingle – Now in its 50th year, Christingle is a celebration that takes place in thousands of churches and schools across the UK.
It is a religious service of prayers, readings, hymns, carols – and of course lighting the Christingles. Christingles are made from an orange decorated with red tape, sweets and a candle. Each element of a Christingle has a special meaning.
- The orange represents the world
- The red ribbon symbolises the love and blood of Christ
- The sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations
- The lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.
Christingle raises funds to help children who are facing Christmas alone.
The Queens speech
Most people in Britain will watch the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day. The Queen's Christmas Message is a broadcast made by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms to the Commonwealth of Nations. Since 1952, the message has been read by Elizabeth II; today, it is broadcast on television, radio, and the Internet via various providers.
The themes and direction of the speech are decided by the Queen and the text is largely written by the Queen herself, sometimes with assistance by Prince Philip and her staff. In recent years, the speech has become more personal and religious in tone.
The Christmas Number 1 is a British tradition that stretches back 65 years and has been claimed by the likes of The Beatles, Spice Girls, Queen and Band Aid.
It is a chart race off to be the biggest selling single at Christmas time. Among the 65 chart-toppers, 12 have been genuine Christmas songs, eight by TV talent show winners, three by choirs and two were novelty singles. Remember when Bob the Builder made it to Number 1?
Pantomime - A Pantomime is a musical comedy performed on stage during the holiday season. If you love that famous British humour, then you would love these shows!
So now you know …how to make a Great British Christmas… pop on the Beatles, kiss under the mistletoe and pull a cracker or two. Merry Christmas.
Speak to you soon!