Wednesday, December 11, 2019

#Christmas Around the World - England

Many Christmas customs and traditions we have today originated in England.

Christmas Cards

John Calcott Horsley, an Englishman started the sensation of sending Christmas cards in the late 1830s. He produced small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written greeting when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting. The cards were an almost overnight success due to the innovation of post offices in England and the United States.


The Celtic and Teutonic people believed Mistletoe held magical powers. Some of these powers were healing wounds and increasing fertility. The Celts hung mistletoe for good luck and to hold evil spirits at bay. During the Victorian era, the English would hang mistletoe from ceilings and doorways. If a person was found standing under the mistletoe, they would be kissed by someone else in the room. This was behavior rarely seen in Vistorian society.

Christmas Pudding

You know, the "figgy pudding" in the "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" carol, or more commonly known as plum pudding. The English dish dates back to the Middle Ages. Made with Suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts and spices, the ingredients are tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are “plum,” meaning they have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. To serve, it's unwrapped, sliced like cake and topped with cream. (I've wanted to try making it for years. Maybe next year.)


Another tradition begun in England. Traveling musicians would go from town to town, visiting castles and homes of the rich, in the hope of receiving hot meals or money in return for their performances.

A Modern Christmas in England

Christmas Crackers

The cracker is a paper tube, covered in foil, twisted at both ends. It’s shaped like a large sweet with hidden treasures inside. Each person crosses their arms, using their right hand to hold their cracker, and pulling their neighbor’s cracker with their left. POP! The cracker will make a bit of a bang with the contents spilling out which usually is a joke to be read at the dinner table, a small trinket and a paper crown.


Rather than hanging stockings above the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of their bed hoping they will be filled by Christmas morning. That would be a nice surprise to wake up to, though Santa might find it difficult to keep from waking the children.

Mid-Day Dinner
Christmas dinner is similar to ours here in the U.S. with a roast turkey, goose or chicken and trimmings. But, there are some specialty items that aren’t as common such as parsnips which are a root vegetable similar to a carrot. It’s a familiar taste but it’s fun to incorporate a new veggie to the table. There's Yorkshire Pudding, which isn’t pudding-pudding like you would think. It’s more like a flaky, deflated biscuit with the center just waiting to hold your gravy. Then there's the trifle. Remember when Rachel on Friends tried to make a traditional English trifle but the recipe pages stuck together and she mixed together a trifle with sheperd’s pie? It is indeed a layered cake but strictly no beef.

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