18th December 2016
In the United Kingdom, most people celebrate Christmas, even if they are not religious. There is less emphasis on Christmas Eve than in other countries, but much more is made of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. However if you are a Christian in the UK Christmas Eve is often a time when you will go to church with your family or attend a candle lit midnight mass or carol concert. With the 2017 Christmas in full swing, it’s time to brush up on your festive vocabulary and find out what Christmas is like in Britain.
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Christmas trees, carol singing, presents, midnight mass, and more are some of the activities that many British families enjoy at Christmas.
Christmas Eve is celebrated on 24th. It is not a public holiday in the UK, but schools are closed and some people take a day off for the last minute Christmas preparations (and shopping!) Christmas Eve is often the last day to shop and decorate homes and gardens. These decorations may include: Christmas trees, small colored fairy lights, leaves and berries from holly trees and mistletoe bushes.
Many families with children end Christmas Eve by hanging up Christmas stocking on the ends of their beds or by the chimney (fireplace) so that when Father Christmas or Santa Claus comes he can leave them something if he thinks that the children have been well-behaved all year. There is a myth that if children have been naughty they will receive a piece of black coal in their Christmas stocking, instead of any gifts!
Christmas Day is a public holiday and generally people take time off to spend time with their families. Nearly all organisations, except hospitals, police stations etc. are closed on Christmas Day.
At lunchtime, families gather together to eat a traditional Christmas dinner which usually includes a whole roast turkey with roast potatoes, vegetables, gravy and Christmas pudding for dessert. Having mince pies and mulled wine are also popular on Christmas day. Some families may eat out at restaurants or spend Christmas together in a hotel, but the majority of British people share Christmas Day in their homes.
The day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day and it is celebrated on December 26th. It’s traditionally a time for many people to continue giving and receiving gifts, spending the day with their families, going for a walk and eating the Christmas leftovers.
We would love to hear how you celebrate Christmas. Let us know in the comments. Do you have any special traditions in your country during the holiday season?
Mulled wine: A hot alcoholic drink made of wine mixed with sugar and spices
A carol: a traditional Christmas song
Christmas Eve: the night before Christmas
A mass: the name of a service in certain churches (like the Catholic church)
A mince piece : small pies with a sweet fruit filling. They can be eaten hot or cold
Pudding: a steamed sponge pudding with dried fruit
Gift: a present
Decorations: something that adds beauty, an ornament
Mistletoe: a parasitic plant with white berries, traditionally used as a Christmas decoration and often hung in the entrance to the home for family and friends to surprise you with a ‘Kiss under the mistletoe!’
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