A Truly British Christmas

In the UK, Christmas is arguably the biggest celebration of the year. It’s a big family celebration which is why the majority of UK students headed home at the first opportunity. But don’t worry you can still celebrate Christmas in your Host student accommodation with your student family. Here a few things to do to make it a truly British Christmas.

Christmas, as we celebrate it in the UK today, is mainly a Victorian affair and most of the UK’s traditions come from the Victorian period. Think about Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and not much has changed.


Decorate your flat.

If you haven’t already done so, its time to decorate your room, flat or studio. A Christmas tree no matter the size is a must. The decorating of the tree is a family event so get together with your flatmates to decorate the flat, take a look at our recent blog ‘How to feel festive in your student accommodation’ for some inspiration.


Christmas Cards.

The tradition of sharing a card at Christmas dates back to 1843 and it’s stuck ever since. Almost a billion are sent and received each year with the average Britain sending 16 cards each. It’s a simple way to wish a merry Christmas to your friends, family and neighbours during the festivities.


Sharing Gifts.

The origins of giving and receiving gifts are to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the three wise men. It’s not just a British tradition; all over the world, families and friends give presents to each other on Christmas Day. Most children around the world believe Santa Claus brings them Christmas gifts and leaves them under the Christmas Tree.

A fun and cost-effective way to take part in this tradition with your flatmates is to have a ‘Secret Santa’. This is where you set a modest budget and you pull the name of someone else in your group out of a container. You then buy a present for the person.  You hand the presents out in a group on Christmas Day. Each person is given their present, but they have no idea which person in the group bought it for them! It’s a fun way to celebrate the tradition.


Christmas Dinner.

The centerpiece of Christmas day in the UK is Christmas Dinner, some elements can vary across different parts of the UK but in general, the main course will consist of:

  • Turkey – Turkey is the main choice of meat for the main course on Christmas Day. Other meats include Goose and Beef but for a real British Christmas, it’s a roasted turkey as the centrepiece.
  • Roast Potatoes – The second most important part of the meal is the roast potatoes, cut into chunks and roasted in the oven with goose far or olive oil until golden brown.
  • Pigs in Blankets – No Christmas dinner is complete without at least a pig in blanket or three! A pig in blanket is a small wrapped in bacon, and often surround the turkey when it is served.
  • Yorkshire Puddings – A controversial Christmas debate in the UK is if the Yorkshire Pudding should be served on Christmas Day as its traditionally served with Roast Beef rather than Turkey. A Yorkshire Pudding is made from a batter that includes eggs, milk, and flour and is cooked in the oven until they rise. They look and taste amazing when covered in gravy.
  • Gravy – A type of sauces that comes from the juices of the cooked meat, mixed in with wheat flour to thicken and seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s then poured over the turkey and vegetables – delicious.
  • Cranbury Sauce – A traditional accompaniment to Turkey both in the UK and also at Thanksgiving in America.
  • Brussel Sprouts – You either love or hate them, but they form a key part of the traditional British Christmas Dinner. A Brussel Sprout is either boiled or sometimes roasted with bacon.

And for dessert? Christmas Pudding. Christmas Pudding is a traditional dessert made from dried fruit and is usually served with brandy butter. Traditionally the pudding is soaked in brandy and set alight before serving.

To finish? Mince Pies – Mince Pies are small pies filled with fruits such as raisins, cranberries, and sultanas plus chopped nuts and spices such as cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Once they are baked, they are finished with a little icing sugar to eat.


Crackers.

No, not some biscuits, it’s a British tradition that takes pride of place on the Christmas Dinner table. A Cracker is a paper tube, covered in a type of foil, twisted at both ends and contains a joke, gift and a paper hat. Each person crosses their arms, using the right hand to hold their cracker and pulling their neighbours’ cracker with the left hand. There is a BANG! As the cracker rips with the contents falling out. The joke which is usually unfunny is read out at the dinner table and you then wear the paper hat or crown for the duration of the meal.


The Crown.

We all feel like Kings and Queens on Christmas Day. This is thanks to the paper hat that falls out of the cracker is made of tissue paper and is in the shape of a crown that we love to wear. It’s a tradition that started in the early 1900s and has stuck ever since.


The Real Crown.

At 3pm King Charles will give his first Christmas speech to the people of the UK and the British Commonwealth. The speech has been a tradition since 1932. You can watch the speech on BBC1, ITV, Sky 1 and Sky News and will run for around ten minutes. Every year there is a theme to the speech, but it usually involves the monarch looking back at the year and talking about the biggest events of the past 12 months.


Christmas TV.

Christmas Day afternoon and evening is traditionally when the UK relaxes in front of TV, and watches one of the many TV specials of the most popular TV shows. From a Christmas Strictly Come Dancing special to a Britain’s Got Talent to special versions of games shows such as The Chase and soap programmes like Eastenders and Coronation Street.

 

And that in a nutshell is a traditional British Christmas Day – spending the day with friends and family, eating good food, sharing gifts, and watching TV.


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