English Christmas Traditions



Christmas Traditions Around the World

Christmas in England

The English enjoy beautiful Christmas music. They love to decorate Christmas Trees and hang up evergreen branches.

One England’s customs is mummering. In the Middle Ages, people called mummers put on masks and acted out Christmas plays. These plays are still performed in towns and villages.

The English gift giver is called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. However, the gifts are not usually opened until the following afternoon.

Christmas in England began in AD 596, when St Augustine landed on her shores with monks who wanted to bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons.

Father Christmas delivers them during the night before Christmas. The Children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of the bed. In the morning they hope it will be full of presents.

In England the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day because boys used to go round collecting money in clay boxes. When the boxes were full, they broke them open.

In England Christmas dinner was usually eaten at Midday on December 25, during daylight.

In England, the only thing that people ate on the day before the feast was Frumenty, which is, was a kind of porridge made from corn. Over the years the recipe changed. Eggs, fruit, spice, lumps of meat and dried plums were added. The whole mixture was wrapped in a cloth and boiled. This is how plum pudding began.

In England the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.

In England also they elect Boy Bishops in commemoration of St. Nicholas compassion for children. These mock bishops were allowed to do the duties of the ecclesiastic except deliver the Mass.

****Information from Suzanna Austin*****

One point I would like to raise is on how Christmas is celebrated in England. As an English family living in rural England we have the pleasure of a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings each year. You mention the Christmas trees and evergreen branches the Christmas trees are a tradition we adopted from Germany during Victoria’s reign and the branches are mistletoe and holly for symbolic reasons.

As Christmas is a religious festival many people here still attend midnight mass on Christmas eve and this is usually seen as the start of festivities. Again the reason presents are not opened until afternoon is that we wait until after morning service / morning mass.

Your description of the gluttonous amounts consumed by the average person at Christmas dinner is very sparse, typically there are 2 roasted meats 1 being either goose (traditional) or turkey (american) covered in bacon and stuffed with sausage meat, the other meat being a gammon. A variety of seasonal vegetables but essential are roast potatoes and brussel sprouts and always kilted sausages (also called sausages in blankets).

For dessert Christmas pudding with brandy butter or brandy custard / cream, the pudding is so rich in alcohol that it is usually ignited before serving. Mince pies not only contain dried fruit but also suet and brandy. Christmas cake is also eaten and is traditionally made a couple of months (end of September) before Christmas and matured by regularly feeding it brandy. Incidentally boxing day derives its name from the practice of opening the alms boxes in church and distributing the money collected among-st the poor in the parish.




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  2. I open my christmas presents on christmas morning and when I was a child growing up in England I always had pillowcases full of presents on Christmas morning left by Father Christmas. We would have a typical English roast lunch with Roast Turkey, chestnut stuffing, sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce and roast potatoes, christmas pudding and strawberry trifle. We would have an Engish Christmas tea with cold cuts, ham, salad stuff, christmas cake that is marzipaned and iced with royal icing, chocolate log, mince pies, cheese straws, sausage rolls,. It was wonderful. At 3pm in the afternoon on Christmas Day we would all sit down and have our dinner listening to the Queens Speech. The next day was Boxing Day and the eating would continue, lots and lots of fun. I do the same here in the United Stattes.


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