Christmas in England
Roofs covered with snow, red-breasted robins on thickly frosted branches and fluffy cats leaving deep footprints on their solitary walks through deep snow ... popular Christmas cards conjure up an image that most of us have never seen!
But Christmas in England can be a magical experience, full of traditions and fun and delicious food. Maybe it's time you visited us and found out for yourself.
This page will give you a little introduction to how we celebrate and what you can expect if you spend Christmas in England:
History and Traditions
Christmas has been celebrated in England for over a thousand years. And here you can discover a brief history of Christmas in England
But what makes Christmas so special is the raft of wonderful and quirky traditions,, from counting down to the big day by using advent calendars, to sending Christmas cards and listening to Christmas music.
Beautifully decorated and lit trees are a symbol of Christmas in England. We use lights to brighten the streets and our homes more than we do at any other time of year.
Christmas stockings are such a traditional part of an English Christmas, that it's very difficult to work out where the custom actually came from... But if you're around, you'll see that they come in all shapes and sizes, from luxury, whimsical stockings that are a gift in themselves, to gorgeously decorated felt Christmas stockings that the children will love, to all manner of handmade Christmas stockings.
Festivals and food have always lived comfortably side by side. So there's really no reason to be surprised at the multitude of traditional Christmas Foods that we enjoy during the festive season. If you're cooking this year, you can check out our short survival guide for all the Christmas foods we make or buy only once a year. Or take a look at these traditional Christmas recipes, from mince pies to mulled wine and bread sauce to Christmas pudding.
And, of course, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate.
What do you give the person who has everything? If they love English history, and you'd like to give them (and maybe yourself) a special treat, then I have a few ideas for you ...
The English have a reputation for being slightly eccentric and just a little unusual. Why not pick a present that reflects that? Check out my top 10 Christmas gifts for England lovers.
If your nearest and dearest loves food and cooking and is a bit of an England lover, then check out these Christmas gift ideas for lovers of traditional English food...
And while choosing the right Christmas gift, don't forget the little things that give just as much joy to those who receive them. Christmas stockings are just the place for those little gifts and here's my list of stocking stuffer ideas for all those of us who love all things English.
If You're Spending Christmas in England ...
...then there's little chance of seeing snow. We often wish for a White Christmas, but we rarely get one. It will be chilly, though, and it might be wet.
So it makes sense to stay cosily indoors and enjoy the food and company. Many hotels offer special Christmas rates with much food and entertainment provided throughout. But it's well to book early, as these deals are very popular.
Christmas eve is a workday for many of us. But companies tend to close earlier than normal. Shops are still open and will be busy with last-minute shoppers, but gradually the day winds down.
Carols From Kings, on the radio in the late afternoon, starts my Christmas celebrations. I light a few candles and sit down with a cup of tea or a glass of wine to listen.
After a light supper, children will hang up their stockings by the fireplace. (And despite 17 years in England I still haven't worked out where that tradition really comes from or what it signifies. Friends tell me that fewer and fewer families do that now, so I may never have the chance to find out.)
Compared to the hectic month of December, Christmas eve is quiet. There's an evening carol service in our local church. In other churches there will be a nativity play performed by the town's children. But most churches will celebrate Midnight Mass.
Christmas Day and Boxing Day are public holidays and most people don't go to work. The children will be up early, checking if Father Christmas has been. The turkey will go in the oven soon after breakfast. The kitchen will be a busy place then, with potatoes and sprouts to peel, sausages to cook, gravy to make and the Christmas pudding to steam.
And after all these preparations Christmas dinner, served between 1pm and 2pm can last a while. Then there's the Queen's Christmas speech and the afternoon is often spent snoozing or playing games or watching The Great Escape on television.
On Boxing Day, people are on the move visiting each other. The 'serious' part of Christmas is over and we're having fun. The kids are on holiday until the new year, but many people return to work on December 27th.
Hectic and quiet, commercial and contemplative, traditional and modern - Christmas in England is a wonderful time. Come and share it with us!
You can find more ideas, information and recipes for a wonderful Christmas in England on the following pages:
- Christmas Food and Recipes
- All about Christmas Stockings and ideas on how to fill them
- Handmade Christmas Stockings
- Cadbury's: No longer English owned (or even made in England), but still some of England's most loved chocolates, chocolate gifts and stocking fillers.
- Recipes for tasty mincemeat
- Traditional Mince Pies
- Mulled wine
- Traditional Christmas Pudding
- Chestnut Soup
- Bread Sauce
- Cranberry Sauce
- Cumberland sauce - excellent with cold meats
- Chocolate Yule log - useful alternative to Christmas Cake
- Top 10 Christmas Gifts for England Lovers
- Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Lovers of English Food
- Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Lovers of English History