In the UK, Christmas is a season of sugar mice, Crackers, Christmas Pudding and Father Christmas. One of the first signs of the season are mince pies. These tiny pies start showing up everywhere in December; coffee houses, work places, restaurants and homes. Traditionally, mince pies are served with mulled wine and (for luck) should be eaten the whole month of December.
Beginning in early December, Christmas cards are sent, nativity plays and carol performances are watched and Christmas decorations are put up. Christmas decorations in the United Kingdom include many things such as streamers, garlands with holly, ivy or mistletoe, nativity sets, window decorations, door decorations include Christmas wreaths, ceiling decorations and Christmas cards. Decorating is also taken outside with white lights, lit up Santa’s, sleighs and reindeer. When it comes to lights and outdoor decorations, entire towns decorate. Store-fronts, trees and anything that can have fairy lights placed on it, is lit up until everything looks like a magical wonderland.
A Christmas ritual started in 1932 is the Monarch’s Broadcast, now the Queen’s Message. Elizabeth II continues this tradition on Christmas Day as people all over the United Kingdom listen to her at three o’clock. Keeping up with modern times, while upholding tradition, the Queen’s Speech can be seen on You Tube as well.
Children count down the days until Christmas with Advent Calendars by opening a flap each day and taking out the chocolate treat. Children prepare for Christmas by hanging their stockings at the end of their beds or on the mantelpiece in the hopes of treats such as chocolate, fruit and small gifts. Children also write letters to Father Christmas and participate in nativity plays at school.
Christmas crackers are another tradition in the UK. These are paper tubes that are wrapped in colorful paper or foil and secured at both ends. The cracker is opened by pulling on both ends of the tube at which point small gifts tumble out. The cracker traditionally has a gold paper crown, small gifts and a joke inside it. Gifts may include such items like playing cards, a bottle opener and pens.
Decorating the Christmas tree is a family event in the United Kingdom. Decorations include strings of fairy lights, tinsel, baubles, ribbons and bows, beads and ornaments in various shapes. The favorite ornaments of children are the chocolate coins and chocolates shapes that are hung on the tree.
A traditional Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom is similar to that in the United States in that a turkey is served. From here, however, the British customize. Along with the turkey come bacon-wrapped sausages, roasted parsnips, chestnuts with brussel sprouts, gingerbread stuffing and the traditional Bread Sauce. Christmas Pudding tops off the evening in flaming brandy.