British christmas traditions

Travel and Culture

22.11.2018 16:00 by Johanna

Colorful lights sparkle on the doors, windows and roofs of most houses. It’s freezing cold outside, but all the more cozy inside. Advent is usually a time for family get-togethers and delicious food. But what actually makes our Christmas different from the celebrations in the British Isles? Which habits, funny traditions and delicacies are typical for Christmas in England??

The Christmas holidays

Probably the most significant difference is the three days of Christmas and their significance in Germany and Great Britain. In contrast to Germany, the 24. December only a minor role. Stores are open until 5 or 6 a.m. and many Brits work regular hours on this day. On Christmas Eve, at the most, the family arrives, if there is time, perhaps they go together to the Caroling Service (Christmas singing in church). Gifts and big meals are actually only on Christmas Day, the 25. December. While the Bescherung takes place with us in the evening, there are the gifts here immediately in the morning after getting up and in the afternoon around 3 o’clock there is the large Christmas Dinner. On 25. the Queen also gives her Christmas address, a tradition her father established in the 1930s.

English style feast

Special food at Christmas is of similar importance in the British Isles as it is in German-speaking countries. One or the other festive meal even comes pretty close to traditional German food: the British Sunday Roast, resembles the classic roast with potatoes and vegetables. As the name suggests, this special roast is not just for Christmas. If you would like to try this British dish, you can go for roasts in the quaint pubs on Sundays all year round.

Something special, however, is the Christmas Pudding, a dessert of raisins, nuts, which is then doused with brandy and set on fire. Part of the Christmas Lunch are also Christmas Crackers, which are basically the same as crackers that hide little surprises inside them. On and around Christmas also include Mince pies to the traditional British meal.

Another peculiarity are the drinking habits of the British over the Christmas holidays: On the 25. traditionally sherry and Baileys. In the pre-Christmas period, one also finds mulled wine, in English as mulled wine known, in the pubs and on the Christmas markets – whereby the Christmas markets are known to be an import from Germany.

Also popular are Hot toddies, a delicious drink based on whisky, honey and Christmas spices, which are wonderful to warm up in cold December.

Colorful Christmas sweaters

In the meantime, you sometimes see them in Germany, too, and in Great Britain they are part of the pre-Christmas season: The Christmas Jumper. Oversized, usually knitted and decorated with animals and Christmas motifs of all kinds, they can be seen in December in stores, pubs and even at work. Admittedly, the clothes are not always beautiful or stylish, but that’s often the whole point. In fact, sometimes one has the feeling that a kind of competition has broken out among the British as to who finds the most striking sweater and dares to wear it. At the same time, wearing the Christmas Jumper but also the perfect conversation starter and makes the pre-Christmas season so much more sociable and of course funnier.

So even if there are of course different traditions at Christmas, the celebration in the British Isles does not seem to be too different from the German Christmas. After all, the British have also copied some of our Christmas traditions, because Christmas markets and Advent calendars are now part of Christmas in Great Britain, too.

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