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At Christmas, it is cold, wet, and foggy in the UK. But here is a list of traditions to cheer you up:
1. Letters: It is a tradition for children, regardless of nationality, to write letters to Father Christmas, but the British take this tradition to another level: they throw the letters on the fire so that their wishes reach the chimney to Father Christmas.
2. Mincemeat pie: Being more of a food than a tradition, enjoying these pies is definitely part of the festive season. You can buy them from any London supermarket or even better, from local bakeries.
3. Gift socks: Instead of hanging socks over the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of the bed in the hope that they will find them full of presents on Christmas morning.
4. Christmas pudding: Also known as plum pudding, it is a British dessert that is prepared for Christmas Eve. The custom of cooking this dessert for Christmas dinner is extremely old, many families having recipes preserved for generations. It is a fruit pudding with brandy sauce and spices such as: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger.
5. Crackers: At the Christmas table, family members unfold the crackers hidden under plates. A Christmas cracker consists of a paper-covered tube, which makes a loud noise when its heads are pulled out. At that moment, several pieces come to light: a helmet to be worn during the meal, small decorative objects, and a piece of paper with a riddle that must be loudly shared with those around.
6. Steak: Turkey or goose steak with chestnut filling, sauce and vegetable garnish is indispensable for the Christmas meal.
7. Wassail: The pot of hot drink consists of wine mixed with spices and represents the crowning of the Christmas table.
8. Yule log: The traditional Christmas cake is a sponge-cake roll, with chocolate cream, then coated in ganache (whipped cream and dark chocolate). The cake is often decorated with powdered sugar, which mimics snow or berries.
It is the symbol of the fireplace, which in winter warms people’s homes. The tradition of the log says that people brought home, on Christmas Eve, a Yule tree trunk, instead of the Christmas tree, which was said to bring good luck and prosperity to the family.
9. Queen’s message: The Queen’s message takes place at 3 pm on Christmas day and is broadcast on radio, television, and the Internet. The Queen’s first televised Christmas message was broadcast in 1957, but this tradition began in 1932, during the reign of King George V.
10. Festive transport: Public transport (trains, subway, buses) does not work on Christmas day. Instead, taxis are available, with drivers charging at least double the usual days.
11. Boxing day: Small gifts or money are given to the postman, newspaper seller and other people who have provided various services throughout the year. Pantomime games, plays and carols performed on the street by people in costumes or masks are popular.
12. Advent calendars: Although of German origin, Advent calendars are very popular in the UK. They are for 24 days and do the countdown until Christmas, opening a door every day, and behind it is something sweet.
13. No decorations: The British gather the Christmas tree and the decorations after 12 days from Christmas, otherwise they will have bad luck next year.
If you want to find out how to spend Christmas in London, check out our article on this topic: 15 things to do in London for Christmas.
[Photo from Unsplash]