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Christmas in England December 25 An annual festival in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ
Two hundred years ago British Christmas was totally different from Christmas we know today It was based on old pagan traditions and was mainly for adults. It was full of mischief and alcohol.
When Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert became the rulers of the British Empire the British started celebrating what we know as ‘traditional’ British Christmas. Victoria and Albert decided to invent a new-style celebration that would support the values and morals they wanted their people to follow.
However, they kept some pagan traditions e.g. They decorated their homes with garlands and greenery.
Christmas trees were decorated with candles, toffees and gingerbreads.
Christmas candles People believed that their light helped him to forget the darkness of winter.
The baubles appeared after 1870 (they believe that baubles protected them from the evil eye).
Christmas tree Most families decorate their houses with brightly-coloured paper. They usually have a Christmas tree in the corner of the room. Early green trees were symbols of life.
Christmas trees replaced a more British custom of the Kissing Bough It was an enormous garland of green leaves and tree branches which was hung in the center of the main room.
Victoria and Albert started more Christmas customs presents giving
Christmas cards giving The very first Christmas card
Christmas cards The first Christmas card was made in 1842 by an English painter John Calcott Horsley who sent that card to one hundred of his friends.
Christmas cards are arranged on mantelpieces, shelves, tables and sometimes attached to ribbon and hung round the walls.
The way Christmas dishes are now served in Britain changed It became fashionable to dine a la Russe (Russian style) – to serve separate dishes instead of having all the dishes on the table at once.
Before the 17th century the main Christmas dish was the plum pudding. It was served with the meat course and was eaten with a spoon. With time people added other ingredients: mutton (баранина) raisins (изюм) wine ginger (имбирь) cloves (гвоздика)
The Victorians made popular Christmas pudding
During the rule of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) eating Christmas pudding was illegal in Britain. Cromwell thought that the dish was so rich that it was sinful to eat it. He banned it! Anyone caught eating it could be fined or sent to jail.
British Christmas is a family celebration
The symbols of Christmas: Food & drink Parties Television and the Queen’s Speech Shopping in the dark, fairy lit streets Midnight Mass & Carol Services Children’s activities A Walk after Dinner Sending out cards Playing Games Carol-singing Decorating
Christmas is celebrated during three days: Christmas Eve Christmas Day Boxing Day
Boxing Day The first weekday after Christmas is a public holiday. This day is called Boxing Day because people open the presents that were put in boxes.
On Christmas Eve children hang their stockings over the fire-place. They are told that Santa Claus arrives at night from the North Pole and fills each stocking with presents.
On Christmas Eve everything is rush and bustle. Offices and public buildings close at one o’clock, but the shops stay open till darkness.
Most big cities are decorated with colourful lights across the streets and enormous Christmas trees.
Christmas food Lunch is the most important point on Christmas Day. The traditional lunch consists of a roast turkey with vegetables, goose, Christmas pudding, the roast beef, nuts and oranges .
In the houses there is a great air of expectation The children are decorating house and the tree with tinsel, various baubles and coloured lights.