An Alabama girl growing up in the USA, I felt I already had a strong sense of unique cultural traditions. When I married my British husband with his English heritage, I had culture shock
Even though my husband and I have lived in the US since we were married, some of his customs and traditions have rubbed off on us. No we haven’t totally swapped iced sweet tea for hot earl gray, but we’ve added in new things and more are yet to come.
Celebrating Christmas in England
Christmas Dinner: My husband made an emergency, panicked phone call to his Mum our first Christmas together. Something about a roast and how we didn’t understand. When we said we’re going to prepare a roast, we meant roast beef. For my husband, a roast could mean a roasted turkey, goose, etc. The “roast” is all about the preparation.
Christmas Dinner Sides: Sides traditionally include parsnips, roasted potatoes (my personal favorite), Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. BTW, the cranberry sauce is a condiment; he still had this look of horror on our first Christmas, when he watched someone eat cranberry sauce as a side dish. He had the same look during our first Thanksgiving. The link above will lead you to a treasure trove of recipes.
Trifle: Our children love trifle! They prepared several when the baby arrived, and they enjoy making it as much as they do eating it. A trifle is a layered dessert, made with pudding, jello with fruit, angel food cake, whipped cream, and sprinkles on top. We like to add mini chocolate chips, instead of sprinkles.
Christmas Pudding: An extravagant part of the meal that’s doused with brandy and then lit on fire, Christmas pudding has an interesting history behind it. From what I understand, some people love it while others don’t. According to my husband, Christmas Pudding is mandatory for the holiday festivities, but after the lighting and learning who’s going to break their tooth on the sixpence hidden inside, they resign themselves to the fact that no one wants to eat it.
Christmas Tea: Not to be confused with “having a spot of tea,” which must include cookies (called biscuits), the late afternoon or early evening tea is considered the smaller evening meal, after the larger Christmas Meal. It’s an excellent time to serve any leftovers.
Yule Log: A favorite among children, a yule log is a large swiss roll, covered in chocolate that’s made to look like bark, with sugar sprinkled on top to look like snow.
Goodies and Snacks:
A lovely buffet of treats and goodies:
Happy Christmas!: After being married to a Brit for nearly two decades, I still find it unusual hearing “Happy Christmas” instead of the typical Merry Christmas. One day I’m sure it’ll start to roll off the tongue.
Boxing Day: For years, I saw this on my calendar, but I had no idea what Boxing Day was. What’s strange is that Boxing Day is an equal part of the Christmas celebration in England, but neither my husband nor his relatives can agree on what Boxing Day commemorates. For fun, have your children look it up and see how many different answers they can find. And then come back and let us know what you learn.
Christmas Crackers: I thought Christmas crackers were some fancy crispy bread, but no. Christmas crackers are a type of small firework. Set on the Christmas table, a couple of people pull either end, there’s a little bang, and the prize inside (including a party hat) goes to the individual who draws the largest part. Even the most serious of Brits enjoy these.
Queen’s Speech: I can imagine my husband sitting with his Christmas Crackers prize, his tea and biscuits, and a bowl of trifle while listening to the Queen address the nation on the television.
Do you incorporate traditions into your Christmas celebration? I’d love to read them in the comments below.
This story is part of the Christmas Around the World Series by iHomeschoolNetwork. To learn more about traditions in other countries, click the banner below:
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