Christmas preparations in UK start out in early November each year. Most shops start selling decorations and other Christmas necessities by November with some starting out as early as October as well. The post Office, responsible for delivering millions of packages each December, announce the last posting date for the first and second class, both for mail at home and abroad. All of December has a surreal feel to it as UK gets preoccupied with Christmas.
Christmas Decoration in UK
Christmas decorations start making an appearance in most homes and businesses by early December, as shopkeepers start trimming up too. People put up lights on their houses and shops and markets have bright displays, with most skyscrapers glittering like precious jewels. In London, there is the traditional switching on of the Christmas lights, usually by a celebrity. Tall Christmas trees adorned with wonderful ornaments too are a common sights on the streets of London. Over the last few years, London traditionally receives a Christmas tree as a gift, which stands on Trafalgar Square.
This is not an official holiday but even those at work don't get much done, with most offices arranging the usual corporate Christmas parties on this day. Children hand up their stockings and hope that Father Christmas will drop them something interesting, they even leave some milk and mince pie outside their houses. Some people opt to attend the midnight masses where they sing Christmas Carols and seek Jesus' blessings.
Christmas Day is a time to spend with families. People wake up bright and early and some open their gifts right away while others wait till after Christmas dinner when everyone can open them together. People also visit their relatives on this day. Traditionally, before the Christmas Dinner, one could eat only Frumenty, a kind of porridge made from corn.
Ingredients such as eggs, fruits and spices too were added to it along with lumps of meat and at times dried plums. That is how the Christmas plum pudding came into being. During the Christmas dinner, turkey, vegetable, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce are served followed by Christmas pudding.
The Queen broadcasts her Christmas message at 1500 hours via the BBC. Millions of families then gather around the telly and listen to her almost mesmerized. People also play with Christmas Crackers and other jokes after the broadcast. Dinner that night is a no fuss buffet usually with the leftover cold turkey.
Boxing Day is a very integral part of Christmas in England and most people use this day to visit the other half of their families, namely the in-laws.
Centuries ago, servants were given fruits and food by the rich merchants as a Yuletide tip. These tips of fruits and foods were carefully packed in boxes, which incidentally is one of the reasons why its called Boxing Day. Although seen as an extension of the Christmas festivities, Boxing Day has deep historic roots in the Feast of St. Stephen. On Boxing Day, people indulge in sports activities such as watching foot ball or horse racing, traditionally it was fox hunting.
It is usually a day for people to recover from the previous day's festivities, however these days shopkeepers have started opening their shops on Boxing Day in anticipation of the New Year's shopping rush.
The Scottish give more importance to the new Years Day celebrations than they do for Christmas. New Years is referred to as Hogmonay in Scotland.
It is basically a time for people to eat and make merry. And despite their reputation of being Stuck ups, those Brits know how to have a whale of a time!