CHRISTMAS IN GREAT BRITAIN
In Britain, Christmas Day is normally spent at home, with the family, and it is regarded as a celebration of the family.
Preparations start with the sending of Christmas cards and installation of a decorated Christmas tree in an important place in the home. The tradition of the Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, who was born in Germany.
Some houses are decorated with evergreens (plants which don't lose their leaves in winter); a wreath of holly on the front door and garlands of holly, ivy and fir indoors.
The excitement begins for children on Christmas Eve, when they hang up their stockings around the fireplace or at the foot of the bed, so that Father Christmas can fill them with presents.
Bunches of mistletoe are often hung above doorways - any couple passing underneath must exchange kisses!
Traditional food is prepared: sweet mince pies,
a rich Christmas cake and the Christmas pudding. Everyone has their own favourite recipe, but they’re all full of spices, nuts, dried fruit and brandy.
People buy and wrap presents and place them under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is a secular and a religious holiday, and many families like to go to the midnight mass at church on Christmas Eve, or celebrate Christmas in church on Christmas morning.
Practically everyone sits down to a Christmas dinner in the early afternoon of Christmas Day, traditionally roast turkey,
but some families prefer goose or roast beef. The turkey is followed by the Christmas pudding, brought to the table flaming hot. Brandy is poured over the pudding, then lit.
The day ends with everyone relaxing, watching television or playing guessing-games like charades.
The English Father Christmas or Santa Claus is first recorded in his traditional red and white clothes in an image of 1653, but the story of Santa arriving in his reindeer-drawn sleigh and descending down the chimney to fill children’s stockings with presents derives from the USA.