I say chaps,
we’ve run out of twiglets, have you any spare?
Yesterday was our work Christmas lunch, as guests of our Chairman at the Queensland Club.
In the spirit of this rather British tradition of clubs, the posts today are Union Jack inspired. Christmas is Britain’s most popular holiday and is characterized by traditions which date back hundreds of years.
What happens under the mistletoe,
stays under the mistletoe.
MISTLETOE, considered sacred by the British Druids, was believed to have many miraculous powers. Among the Romans, it was symbol of peace, and, it was said that when enemies met under it, they discarded their arms and declared a truce. From this comes our custom of kissing under the mistletoe. England was the first country to use it during the Christmas season.
The tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe has been around for millennia. However, our modern day version has its roots in the more puritanical Victorian era, where we all had to be prim and proper. The one time a year that you could expect a kiss from a suitor was at this time under the mistletoe. And as tradition goes, the two are obliged to kiss and having kissed the gentleman takes a berry from the twig. Once all the berries are gone, all the opportunity has left with it. No berries, no kisses.
The Christmas tree was popularised by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who introduced one to the Royal Household in 1840. Since 1947, the country of Norway has presented Britain annually with a large Christmas tree which stands in Trafalgar Square in commemoration of Anglo-Norwegian cooperation during the Second World War.
Christmas dinner consists traditionally of a roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roast potatoes. This is followed by mince pies and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy, which might contain coins or lucky charms for children. The pudding is prepared weeks beforehand and is customarily stirred by each member of the family as a wish is made.
The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas Day. Invented by a London baker in 1846, a cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends, which contains a party hat, riddle and toy or other trinket. When it is pulled by two people it gives out a crack as its contents are dispersed.
Carols are often sung on Christmas Eve by groups of singers to their neighbours, and children hang a stocking on the fireplace or at the foot of their bed for Santa Claus (also named Father Christmas) to fill. Presents for the family are placed beneath the Christmas tree.
Another traditional feature of Christmas afternoon is the
Queen’s Christmas Message to the Commonwealth, broadcast on radio and television.
The day after Christmas is known in Britain as Boxing Day, which takes its name from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box – a gift of money or food inside a box – to the deliverymen and tradespeople who called regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of tipping the milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service at Christmas time.
Must dash. Tickety-boo.