Christmas – How do our British teachers celebrate it?

19 de diciembre de 2019

There is a popular song in here that says «Christmas, sweet Christmas» and we were wondering whether Christmas were as sweet in Great Britain so to find out, we have asked our teachers and here is what they have told us.

When does the countdown to Christmas start?

The countdown to Christmas officially begins on the first of December, unless you work in retail, in which case it begins about the end of Halloween. However, for everybody else, the countdown begins on the first. For children (and some adults) this countdown is marked by the opening of ‘doors’ on an ‘advent calendar’. On the advent calendar are 24 doors, one door for each day prior to Christmas. On each day from the first to Christmas eve, a door is opened. Behind the door there is usually a small chocolate that is eaten by the child (or adult). Originally, the designs on advent calendars were nativity-themed, but today, any design likely to cause children to part with their parents’ money is used.

Where else can you see it’s Christmas time?

As well as in the home, the build-up to Christmas can also be seen on the street. In all cities and towns across the country, usually around the middle of November, everybody gathers in the town to see the Christmas lights being switched on. Often the council get somebody famous (or “famous”) to switch on the lights. Often this even coincides with the opening of the town/city Christmas market, and the even is often accompanied by, for example, live musical performances.

Especially recently, Christmas markets are very popular. From November onwards, town centres are usually very busy with people going Christmas shopping. Christmas markets provide an alternative method of buying gifts for family and friends, but are also populated with food and drink stalls, where it is possible to buy ‘Christmassy’ drinks, like mulled wine, or flavoured coffee for the working, sober, and underaged as well as various types of hot food (think soups, meat sandwiches, etc.)
In schools, the curriculum frequently switches to Christmas in December, and the last couple of lessons before the holidays are usually dedicated to fun, games, or films related to Christmas.

However, schools often hold events that the wider community is invited to, such as Carol Concerts in the school, church, or town/village hall. These are events where people (usually family and friends of the children) attend and listen to children sing traditional Christmas songs (with varying quality….). Primary schools (where children aged 4-11 go) will also stage. Nativity Plays: reenactments of The Nativity (the birth of Jesus, the coming of the three Wise Men, the sighting of Angel Gabriel).

What do you do on Christmas day?

As for the day itself, Christmas Day is, of course, the 25th of December. Typically, this day is marked by overindulgence by people of all ages; families gather all together in one house, perhaps the first opportunity they’ve had to do so all year.

The 25th is also the day when people often their gifts. The correct time to do this is often much debated. In some households, the done thing is to open the gifts first thing after breakfast; in others, however, gifts are opened after Christmas dinner (which is typically served earlier than the average ‘dinner time’ in the UK). These gifts are usually kept under a tree (either real or fake) that was put up (along with the other Christmas decorations) 12 days before Christmas. They will be taken down 12 days after Christmas has finished. Otherwise, it is said to be bad luck if you leave the decorations up too long.

And what does the Queen have to do with all this?

Around 3pm, either after everybody has eaten (or is eating; see next paragraph), the Queen gives a speech (this event is televised and is imaginatively called ‘The Christmas Message). It is common for people to gather and watch this, where the Queen gives a talk on a theme or themes. Last year, for example, she spoke of the need for tolerance and unity.

What do you eat at Christmas?

The Christmas dinner is probably typical of British food in general: meat and vegetables. Typically people eat turkey, but today other dishes are also eaten. Some people opt to eat goose, for example. The turkey is usually served with roast or mashed potatoes, and a variety of vegetables: parsnips, sprouts, carrots, and all this is covered in gravy, which is a kind of sauce made from stock (usually meat) and the juices from the vegetables. For dessert, the most popular (or at least stereotypical, we’ve collected no data…) is Christmas Pudding served with white sauce.

What do you usually do after dinner?

After the dinner, everybody is usually tired because of the food and the early start, Typically, the whole family sit down in the living room and watch the television (usually a Christmas film, a TV special or reruns of old British comedies).

Well, that’s a typical Christmas Day in the UK!

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