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sexta-feira, 10 de dezembro de 2010

Christmas in England...

History and Traditions

Christmas has been celebrated in England for over a thousand years. And here you can discover a brief history of Christmas in England
But what makes Christmas so special is the raft of wonderful and quirky traditions,, from counting down to the big day by using advent calendars, to sending Christmas card and listening to Christmas music.
Beautifully decorated and lit trees are a symbol of Christmas in England. And we use lights to brighten the streets and our homes more than we do at any other time of year.
Christmas stockings are such a traditional part of an English Christmas, that it's very difficult to work out where (and when) the custom actually came from... But if you're around, you'll see that they come in all shapes and sizes, from luxury, whimsical stockings that are a gift in themselves, to gorgeously decorated felt Christmas stockings that the children will love.

Christmas Food

Festivals and food have always lived comfortably side by side. So there's really no reason to be surprised at the multitude of traditional Christmas Foods that we enjoy during the festive season. If you're cooking this year, you can check out our short survival guide for all the Christmas foods we make or buy only once a year. Or take a look at these traditional Christmas recipes, from mince pies to mulled wine and bread sauce to Christmas pudding.
And, of course, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate.

If You're Spending Christmas in England ...

...then there's little chance of seeing snow. We often wish for a White Christmas, but we rarely get one. It will be chilly, though, and it might be wet.
So it makes sense to stay cosily indoors and enjoy the food and company. Many hotels offer special Christmas rates with much food and entertainment provided throughout. But it's well to book early, as these deals are very popular.
Christmas eve is a workday for many of us. But companies tend to close earlier than normal. Shops are still open and will be busy with last-minute shoppers, but gradually the day winds down.
Soft Candlelight by  Debbie MillerCarols From Kings, on the radio in the late afternoon, starts my Christmas celebrations. I light a few candles and sit down with a cup of tea or a glass of wine to listen.
After a light supper, children will hang up their stockings by the fireplace. (And despite 17 years in England I still haven't worked out where that tradition really comes from or what it signifies. Friends tell me that fewer and fewer families do that now, so I may never have the chance to find out.)
Compared to the hectic month of December, Christmas eve is quiet. There's an evening carol service in our local church. In other churches there will be a nativity play performed by the town's children. But most churches will celebrate Midnight Mass.
Christmas Day and Boxing Day are public holidays and most people don't go to work. The children will be up early, checking if Father Christmas has been. The turkey will go in the oven soon after breakfast. The kitchen will be a busy place then, with potatoes and sprouts to peel, sausages to cook, gravy to make and the Christmas pudding to steam.
Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, © Monkey Business Images |
And after all these preparations Christmas dinner, served between 1pm and 2pm can last a while. Then there's the Queen's Christmas speech and the afternoon is often spent snoozing or playing games or watching The Great Escape on television.
On Boxing Day, people are on the move visiting each other. The 'serious' part of Christmas is over and we're having fun. The kids are on holiday until the new year, but many people return to work on December 27th.
Hectic and quiet, commercial and contemplative, traditional and modern - Christmas in England is a wonderful time. Come and share it with us!

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