Your Complete Guide to British Christmas Traditions – Infographic

With the Holidays fast approaching, we thought it would be a great idea to gather up the best in British Christmas Traditions and present them in a fun graphic.

What’s your favorite British Christmas tradition?

Check out what we put together below:



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What’s your favorite British Christmas tradition?

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  1. avatarGarry Jantzen says

    The icon for Pantomime is really misleading. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with weird people in white face and striped shirts!

  2. avatarErika says

    Ah ha! So Anglotopia isn’t run by a Brit. That explains some of the whacky ideas appearing on here then. Christmas Dinner at midday? Small gifts exchanged on Boxing Day?? Strawberries on Christmas cake??? Salmon & bread & butter????? Where’s all the real amazing British Christmas traditions you’ve missed out like stockings, logs, stirring the pudding, coins in the pudding etc, etc, etc? Think I need to write a corrective post for you guys.

      • avatar says

        Ha….doubt they’re Brits. Obviously French infiltrators of the most devious kind.
        Phoenix…here’s how WE celebrate (remember Britain is actually a quirky mish-mash of various regions and their own traditions)
        So…for a British Midlands Christmas, here’s how we do it.

        Christmas Eve – Last minute dash to shops to join everyone else doing last minute dash to buy (a) gifts for mad uncle who’d everyone had forgotten. (b) more booze (c) cranberry sauce/stuffing.
        Return home. Pour large drink – because it’s Christmas.
        Organise kids to wail ‘we all like piggy pudding’ outside neighbours homes. Neighbours then pay kids to go away or alternatively hide behind sofa. Hiding behind sofa will earn much ‘tutting’ from rest of neighbourhood over the next year. (Note to Anglophiles – if you want to be British, you must perfect your ability to tut in the face of adversity’.)
        Whilst kids ‘carol sing’, pour large sherry…because it’s Christmas.
        When kids return, get them to hang their stockings up. NB. These are HUGE decorated socks…nothing saucy! These are hung on firepace (if you have one), or staircase or other obvious place for Father Christmas (hereafter known as FC)
        Kids then assist in placing bowl of water near Christmas tree for reindeers to drink, some carrots for them to eat and a short note as reindeers are avid readers of small infant-type writing.
        Two mince pies and a glass of sherry are put out on table for FC….with obligatory note from small children thanking FC for his hard work.
        Pour another glass of sherry for FC as first glass mysteriously evaporated.
        Put ‘The Snowman’ or other standard BBC Christmas TV offering on.
        Someone will then inneviatably wrap a scarf round their neck and sing ‘I’m walking in the air’ in falsetto whilst flapping their arms.
        Someone will even more inneviatably throw something large, heavy and blunt at that person.
        Pour really large sherry – because it’s Christmas.
        Kids told to go to bed. Kids refuse to go to bed because they want to wait for FC. Kids told FC only leaves presents for sleeping children….that does the trick!
        Kids get up again crying as they’re worried FC won’t get into house as no chimney. Open front door for FC to enter. Entire family risks frostbite as an icy gale blows in till kids asleep and door can be closed…brrrrrrr!
        Turkey – (frozen because you forgot to order a fresh one in time) is moved from freezer to fridge to defrost.
        Take down stockings that have just been put up and stuff them very precisely in this order:
        Near toe – selection of nuts in shells. Tangerine. Then pack in rest of stocking….
        chocolate. sugar mice. more chocolate. chocolate selection box. novelty toy. more chocolate. plastic model of reindeer that poops chocolate raisins. more novelty items. cheap bubble bath. something cute. noisy toy. whoopee cushion.
        These stockings then instantly transform into the loudest, most rustlely, crinkliest items on the planet – at least 900 decibels and increase exponentially in volume the closer to childs bed you get. This is a known fact and currently being researched by MIT. Getting from downstairs to placing stocking on foot of childs bed therefore takes most of the night as you have to wait with breath held for the child to settle to sleep again each time they’re woken by rustling stocking. Some parents have perfected the ‘mad all out dash and stocking fling’ technique, but this ‘dash n’ drop’ method may result in child waking and rifling through stocking at 2am. The ‘careful creep’ method is generally more successful…depending on how many sherries you’ve had previously.
        Now you can go to bed and wait to be woken by kids who found the noisy stocking toys first.

        I’ll write about Christmas Day if you like when I’ve the energy …

        • avatarHeather Corey says

          Hooray Erika! Thank you for that wonderful write up! Yes to all the sherry “because it’s Christmas”! Can’t wait for your Christmas Day write up & maybe Boxing Day too?! :)

        • avatarMelba Turner Jones says

          Piggy Pudding? Hmmmmm……. Not sure where that came from. It’s FIGGY Pudding. NOT Piggy. Just sayin…………… are you sure you’re a Briton?

          • avatarMinerva says

            If she’s not sure…then I am….after that many sherrys, it’s lucky she can say anything!
            The pronunciation & spelling of her worms (sorry, words!) is a minor issue.

        • avatarMinerva says

          Good grief, it’s uncanny…………….have you ever spent a Christmas Eve in my house???
          I do make my own Cranberry Sauce……but then there’s the mad panic buying of more fruit at Waitrose because I never think I have enough, amidst all the other scarily harassed looking women all doing the same thing….then after what seems like a 4 hour wait to pay at the tills, I spend the rest of the night frantically ticking off lists, making more Cranberry Sauce at midnight, wrapping the gifts for my OH when he’s gone to bed (coz when he’s awake he’s psychically tuned in to whenever I get the wrapping paper out of my hidey-hole round the back of the sofa), drinking more sherry (because by now it’s ‘purely medicinal’) just to keep my eyes open long enough to finish it all…oh, & not just tutting mightily….but by now there is feverish muttering too, verging on ‘a damned good talking to’!

          The highlight of the evening last year??? I was stuffing the tangerine into a stocking when it rolled out again & under the telly…………….a mouse had got into the box of ‘Christmas Trimmings’ & eaten the toes out of 3 of my handmade stockings! So at 1;30 in the morning the sewing box came out to do swift but temporary repairs so the fruit’n’nuts would stay in.

          Christmas Day started at 6:00…………

    • avatar says

      I was wondering as well about the strawberrys etc etc. I remember stirring the pudding and having the old sixpence in it, well if you were lucky enough to find it….. I have never had salmon for Christmas dinner, maybe on sandwiches for tea time We usualy had Christmas dinner around 2-3pm, then watched the Queens speech…. At tea time the tradional Christmas cake, sausage rolls, mince pies, chocolate yule log, so many good things!!!!. Boxing day is a big eating day again. Usually we went to relatives that day for tea. Most English people celebrate up until the New year unlike in the States where the day after Christmas its all over and they throw out the tree!!! Such a waste for such a big build up.

    • avatar says

      You tell ’em, Erika. I wondered at some of the “traditions” listed there. My mother’s family were British. We never had Christmas dinner mid-day. And a Salmon sandwich??? No…

  3. avatar says

    Jonathan could I please ask for your help with the code – I use Vistaprint to host my site which has limited facilities. I am not au fait with html and cannot show the whole page and cannot remember how to write the size – could you help please? Thank you, Sharon

  4. avatar says

    Also, it is never, ever, called “the holidays” here. “The holidays” are in summer when we jet off to sunnier climes.

    If you really want to move here, I have several friends you could marry!

  5. avatarJane Edgecombe says

    Well, you can have pretentiously roastED turkey, roastED potatoes, and roastED parsnips, if you like. I’m having mine traditionallly roast. NO “ed”

  6. avatarPhoenix Poore says

    @Erika, would you be able to tell me the traditional British way of celebrating christmas? i really want to make my Christmas festive and british!


  7. avatarTim says

    @Erika, you have almost perfectly described what Christmas was like in our household when I was was a child! Nowadays as there are no children involved in our family Christmases, the sherry plus “because it’s Christmas” line is a big feature! However, even as an adult I still have to watch The Snowman and Santa Claus The Movie on TV (that gives you an idea of my age).

    A big part of Christmas, for me at least, that hasn’t been mentioned here is the annual BBC broadcast of Carols from Kings, which is the televisation of the Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. It is just the most beautiful candle-lit service (and I’m not religious) with all the favourite traditional carols, and I usually watch it (and sing along) while preparing things in advance for the big day, usually with a huge pot of mulled wine on the stove.

  8. avatarJane Thompson says

    The sausages wrapped in bacon are baked & called `pigs in blankets` – they are a definate must have.

    Much is usually made on the news here about the Boxing day hunts, when posh people dress up in silly clothes, get on their horses, chivvy up their packs of hounds and canter around the countryside looking for something to kill. Now that foxhunting has been outlawed they apparently begin by following a trail set for them, but if they encounter a fox on the way then it’s pretty much open season.

  9. avatarDeanna says

    When we went over to England at Christmas to see my husband’s family, we were there for New Year’s. I remember doing something called “Letting In The First Foot”. It had to do with the first person to enter the house after New Year arrived. It was pretty funny, because as we were standing on the front stoop waiting for New Years to arrive so we could enter the house, all the other stoops down the street had people standing on them as well. I can’t remember the specifics of the whole thing, but I can remember every house had someone outside waiting for the New Year to arrive, everyone waving and saying hello to the neighbors at about one minute until midnight.

  10. avatarKath says

    Don’t forget Morecambe and Wise on the telly! S’not christmas without them. And while you watch…..another sherry. Cos it’s christmas. 😉