Everyone has their own way of celebrating the holidays. Family traditions passed down or made new each year. Being in England this Christmastime I have become more aware of American traditions that I thought other countries, certainly the United Kingdom, must take part in at Christmas. Queue the dum dum American music.
Polling some of our close mates we asked a few questions about the makings of a proper English Christmas. Let’s take a look at a good old fashioned American and English Christmas:
- In American it’s an undisputed fact that Santa lives in the North Pole. English children believe Santa lives in Lapland. That Santa seems more ritzy.
- Americans love a traditional pumpkin pie. England is all about some mince pies.
- Americans are treated to 24 hours of nonstop poke-your-eye-out fun with “A Christmas Story.” The closest I could get to a holiday movie they watch over here is Scrooge (not the one with Bill Murray) and “that reindeer movie with Dudley Moore, “ aka “Santa Claus.”
No, they haven’t even heard of Hermey the elf that wanted to be a dentist! Sorry, no classic claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman here.
- Some American radio stations play Christmas music 24 hours a day starting in December. In England you have to wait patiently for Christmas songs to play in rotation. One of the biggest favourites, The Pogues – Fairytale of New York.
- American kiddies leave Santa some yummy milk and cookies. Some English children will do the same, but others leave out sherry or whiskey. You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa.
- Americans have December 26. England has Boxing Day (which apparently nobody we’ve talked to really knows why it’s called that.)
- Some Americans may open “poppers” at Christmas dinner. Here in England everyone loves a traditional “Christmas Cracker.” Crackers are ‘pulled’ by two people and inside the cracker there is usually a tissue paper hat, a balloon, a slip of paper with an uber corny joke on it. What do elves learn in school? The elf-abet.
- In America we typically don’t wait for a Presidential holiday message, but most English families will listen to the British monarch’s broadcast on Christmas day, which started back in 1932 with King George.
Making this list, I just realised I haven’t seen a candy cane all season. What the what? No peppermint bark here kids.
It has been a welcomed change to see Christmas through other people’s customs and traditions. I never went picking mistletoe back in the states, but I obviously will welcome being back in America for Christmas Day. Bring on the classic movies, holiday baking with ingredients I am familiar with and holiday music.