For some of you it may well be your first Christmas spent here in the UK and so we thought it might be nice to highlight some of our traditions at this time of the year, so that you and your family can experience a slightly different, British festive period.
The 1st December marks Advent and the official count down until Christmas can begin. People of all ages have an advent calendar and each morning they open the corresponding door to reveal a chocolate and a picture. Other people have advent candles etched with 25 numbers and each evening they slowly burn the candle down.
Christmas Markets, Ice Skating & Christmas Lights
To get into the festive spirit in the weeks leading up to Christmas, many people will visit the markets for a spot of shopping, watch the magical moment the Christmas lights are switched on, or go ice skating at one of the many rinks which pop up all over the UK. You can read our previous blog posts here.
Christmas Trees & Decorations
Normally 2 weeks or so before Christmas (although every year it gets earlier and earlier!) people begin to put up their Christmas trees and decorate their homes. Wreaths and garlands adorn front doors, tinsel, baubles and lights are placed on trees with an obligatory angel or star crowning the very top. It is becoming much more common for people to decorate the outside of their house too. Some houses are a little over the top, but this is normally to raise money for charity as people travel to come and look at them and make donations.
Traditionally Brits will take down their Christmas tree and decorations on the Twelfth Night, 5th January. This is the last day of the Christmas period. A day sooner or later is considered unlucky. Many people still adhere to this superstition.
If you live in London, once you are done with your tree, most local councils will offer a free recycling service. You just need to leave it outside your property and someone will come by and take it away.
In the build up to the holidays, many primary schools will put on a nativity for the parents. Every year parents dread the note from the teacher which tells them what part their child will play and the costume they are going to have to try and make!
Carol Concerts & Carol Singing
Churches and schools all over the UK will put on carol concerts for people to attend and sing along to all of their favourite Christmassy songs and put them in the festive cheer. Click here and here to find a concert near you.
Choirs will also take to the streets, visiting various neighbourhoods and knocking on people’s doors to raise money for charity.
There is always mulled wine and mince pies to warm up afterwards.
Pantomimes are a staple to the British festive season. Throughout theatres in the UK, various classics are put on, such as Snow White, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Cinderella. Each pantomime features a famous face and are a real laugh for the whole family, not just the kids. They incorporate song, dance, jokes and audience participation.
Find your nearest pantomime here.
People in the UK love to send cards to their neighbours, family, friends and colleagues. Some people will send and receive well over 100 cards and decorate their homes with them.
We hope you will enjoy Christmas here in the UK and hope that you can partake in some of our festive traditions.