Traditions and customs associated with Christmas vary depending on the region and the surrounding climatic conditions. After all, it’d be ridiculous to expect Father Christmas to come riding on a sledge with reindeers in South Africa, where its summertime during December — the best time of the year for some braai and beer. Despite this diversity, the bottom-line remains the same — to have a good time with your family and friends.
However, if you are working or studying in the UK and are suddenly homesick, then it’s time to call some of your friends to come over. That’s a lot better than feeling lonely especially if you haven’t been able to return home for Christmas. If hosting English guests is making you nervous, then hang on! we have it all covered-up for you. Even if it is the first time you are organizing a Christmas get together in the UK, these useful tips about English customs and traditions will help you organize the most perfect British Christmas.
Advent calendars are more popular in the UK than they are anywhere else in the world. These calendars come in various forms and if you are having relatives come over for Christmas, then start right here. The Advent calendar is an exclusive calendar for the month of December, and you can open one window every day to count the number of days until Christmas. If there are children coming over (even if they are a wee bit grown-up) getting Advent calendars with chocolates in them would be a great idea. These basically have one chocolate in every window that pops out when the window is opened.
A gift that connects on an emotional plane
As in case of the rest of the world, even in the UK Christmas gifts are quite popular. However, to really strike a chord with a true English, you need to plan a gift that connects you with them on an emotional plane. Once you do that, don’t be surprised if your reserved colleague who appeared cold until now, stacks it up on his work desk all year-long. Most British people like to surround themselves with Christmas gifts from those they love and care about.
Know when to pop open the Champagne
Christmas is one of those few occasions when drinking before lunchtime isn’t frowned upon. In fact, it is something that British people look forward to. So, remember to pop open the champagne as soon as everyone exchanges gifts in the morning. The rest of the day is a big party with non-stop drinking and merry-making.
Lunch makes all the difference
In the UK, lunch is the most important meal on Christmas, so while you are playing the host, don’t reserve that mouth-watering roasted turkey for dinner. Also, make it a point to include a lot of veggies such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes. Use them both as stuffings and standalone dishes because that’s how the Brits like it. So, make sure that the Christmas menu has a lot of greens on it — a sixty-forty ratio of veggies and meats should be good enough.
Turn on the TV
While you have guests coming over for Christmas, don’t hesitate to turn on the TV for some hilarious shows like Gavin & Stacey or Mrs. Brown’s Boys to break the monotony. If you are having elderly guests coming over, then consider watching ‘The Unseen Two Ronnies’ instead. You can be sure that your English guests won’t consider it rude if you turned o the TV — not on Christmas. Plus, while you and your guests are going to be drinking all day, adding in a dash of slapstick humor only helps lighten-up the atmosphere.
Catch-up with the Queen
If you have just moved into London and are pursuing your studies or a dream job, then you better avoid missing out on what’s popularly known as the Queen’s message. So, turn on your television at 3 p.m. to hear what the royals have to say. Usually, it is a quick round-up of all that’s been going on during the year and how the royals have done their bit to protect the best interests of their subjects.
Don’t forget Father Christmas
If you fancy yourself to be an expert cook, try baking some mince pies for your guests. In the UK, this is a must-have item on the Christmas menu and is made from minced meat and flavorful spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Don’t even try your hand at it if you aren’t confident about your cooking skills, instead you can always pick them up from a local grocery store. However, if you are expecting relatives with children to visit you, then make sure to bake some extra mince pies. The kids might want to leave some of those delicious pies with some brandy for Father Christmas.
Fun with Leftovers
While you are working on the menu, don’t be afraid to cook a little more than required. Eating leftovers on the next day is almost a tradition amongst Brits and is quite common since the 26 th is a holiday. So, if your guests are staying over for Christmas, then you can be sure that none of them would mind eating leftovers from the previous day. Plus, it works for the host because you’d be spending a lot of time cleaning up and the break from cooking is a welcome change.
Christmas pudding is as dear to the English as Father Christmas is to the rest of the world, probably more but not less. This delectable pudding made from dry fruits, spices and rum makes the perfect Christmas dessert and here’s how the British make it.
Also, if you are in London, don’t forget to save some time to check out the Oxford street lights and Trafalgar Square. Finally, Christmas is all about sharing your joys and sorrows with the lesser fortunate, so while you are hosting that get-together, don’t forget to do your bit this Christmas. If you wish to make an overseas donation, then consider transferring it through Small World to get the best exchange rates and low transaction fees.