It’s already well into December and the rush of buying presents and booking flights for Christmas is truly underway.
Every country has traditions for this festive period and for international travellers, who are staying in London at Palmers Lodge Boutique Hostel, we recommend you keep an eye out for certain English Christmas traditions.
A table isn’t complete in the UK without every place setting being accompanied by a Christmas cracker. The Christmas cracker as we know it was invented in 1846 by Thomas Smith. Inspired when visiting Paris, he saw a wrapped bon-bon sweet and developed this into the first crackers, which were sold the following year.
Christmas crackers are pulled by two people with the contents falling out accompanied by a small ‘bang’. The contents range from small toys or magic tricks through to luxury items and there’s always a paper crown and often some kind of joke or riddle inside. Whoever has the larger part of the pulled cracker in their hand is usually awarded the items and the hats are worn during the Christmas Day meal.
The hats found in Christmas crackers can be traced back to the Roman celebration, Saturnalia. Romans wore decorative headpieces on the 17th December and everyone joined together for sumptuous meals. Schools closed, people stopped work and it is thought that the global tradition of gift-giving during a holiday period first started during Saturnalia.
Christmas traditions in Britain wouldn’t be complete without Bread Pudding. Also known as Bread and Butter Pudding, it’s a mix of bread, dried fruit, eggs and milk and is just one of the desserts that will grace many tables over the holiday period, of course, alongside Christmas pudding and trifle.
A family trip to a holiday pantomime is a beloved English tradition. It’s a particularly British event and London has a number of pantomimes to book tickets to see whilst in the city.
The modern pantomime is comical and full of slapstick action, often centred on a traditional children’s story such as Sleeping Beauty or Jack and the Beanstalk. The play features characters, such as a pantomime Dame, who is always played by a man and the lead male character, such as the Prince in Cinderella, is played by a woman.
Attending pantomimes is great fun. Audience goers can even interact with the actors, by yelling certain known catchphrases such as, ‘He’s behind you!’ Pantomimes are central to Christmas celebrations in England for children and adults alike, so anyone visiting London should take the opportunity to experience it.
Share Your Traditions
Whether you’re eating sausage rolls at a party or drinking mulled wine whilst listening to Christmas carols being sung, ensure you immerse yourself in all things English at this time of year, so when you leave London and Palmers Lodge, you have a lifetime of amazing memories to take with you.
Here at Palmers Lodge, we’d love to know – what are your holiday traditions? Respond via Twitter using the hashtag #PalmersLodgeHolidays and tagging @PalmersLodges.