England- A European Christmas Story

The Christmas season in England would begin around the second week of December, leading up to Christmas Day. The day before is known as Christmas Eve and the day after is called Boxing Day. Most houses would have a Christmas tree (either a real or artificial one) which is the main Christmas decoration of the house. People in England decorate their tree in different styles from colourful and children orientated through to theme styles. Most people in England put their presents under their Christmas tree. 

Most towns have a big ‘Switch on’ of their Christmas outdoor lights which decorate the town/village centre. Most infant and junior schools would have a nativity play and schools and churches would have Carol service attended by families and it is usually a very special service by Candlelight. The most famous Carol service is from Kings College Cambridge. Outside of church, children and choirs often go door to door singing Carols such as O a little town of Bethlehem, While shepherds watched and Silent night. Sometimes non-religious songs might be sung for example ‘White Christmas’. Handel’s Messiah is a regular feature of Christmas and Huddersfield Choral Society is world renowned for its performances.

Father Christmas or Santa Claus is an important figure of Christmas who delivers presents to the children all around the world on his sleigh which is driven by 9 reindeer. Children leave out Cherry and mince pies for Santa and a carrot for Rodolph. People in England tend to send dozens of Christmas card to friends, family and work colleagues with greetings including Happy Christmas, Merry Christmas and Season’s greetings. Friends and family will often exchange presents wrapped in bright Christmas paper whereas workplaces will sometimes have a secret Santa were everyone will receive a gift. Christmas jumpers are worn occasionally in the office and other places. 

On Christmas day, people in England will often visit a family member for a traditional Christmas dinner which is mostly a roast Turkey, potatoes and vegetables including the famous Brussel sprouts. Many families will pause at 3 pm to watch the Queen’s Speech. Traditional desserts include Christmas pudding with Brandy sauce, Christmas cake and sherry trifle. The dinner table is often decorated with a Christmas cracker for each person and contains novelty gifts, jokes and party hats. 

Christmas day is often rounded off with the family sitting around watching Christmas films and overindulging with Chocolate.

A personal story:

By Alan R Eastwood 

Q1. What do you have for Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinner has to commence with Champagne and canopies whilst watching the Queens speech. At 1600 hours, candles lit and all sit down normally about 10 to 12 people. The meal consists of a light soup e.g. lettuce. Followed by smoked salmon, capers and anchovies. Main course: – turkey, sage and onion, apple sauce, roast potatoes, boiled new potatoes, sprouts, carrots, parsnips and gravy. Dessert choice of Christmas pudding with brandy sauce or hazelnut meringues with coffee cream. All accompanied by appropriate wines. Finally, coffee and chocolates.  Very unusual if we are not still sat at the table until 2200 to 2300 hours. 

Q2. What is your fondest memories of Christmas?

My fondest memories are of Christmas 2009 when all the family came. It snowed heavily on Christmas day and many people had stay over because the roads were impassable. That meant that Boxing Day (we normally have a party for friends) was made up of all the neighbours and their family and friends who were all snowed in. 

Q3. What types of presents do you get from friends and family?

We ordinarily restrict presents to something funny and not to spend more than £10 per person. We often ask that people buy charity presents to help the less fortunate. 

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