Christmas in Britain as an American, the facts

Posted on December 25, 2008 by peacefulyorkshire

yahooavatar15Merry Christmas from us 3 American gals here at ‘’! Our Christmas poll results  are showing that you, lovely readers, prefer saying “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Christmas”, so were going to stick with that one–! Myself and Yankeebean are in America for Christmas, while Pacificyorkshirebird will be in Britain.  Where are you this holiday season?

As you readers know, Christmas in Britain brings on its own wacky traditions… no one tells you these things as an American in Britain. Oh no, I have learned these things for myself:

Christmas crackers: Under no circumstances should you win the Christmas cracker if you are pulling it with your well-meaning British Sister-in -law, her kids, or your mother-in-law. Trust me. Monitor your pulling effort and just let them win the cracker. Do you really want nail clippers anyway? And don’t be fooled by the “Marks and Spencer Luxury Crackers” either, they have nail clippers in them, too. Laugh at the jokes inside, even if you they’re not funny–because it is  guaranteed that they won’t be.

The Christmas Hat– You might pull your Christmas Cracker too hard (to not win requires lots of practice) and you may need to put on the colored paper-hat inside. Depending on the British family you are with will dictate if you are required to do so. You need to be aware that yes, you will look stupid in a bright-orange-tissue-paper-crown. But if everyone else puts it on and you don’t you will look like a big stick in the mud and that is definitely a social no-no.  Style your hair so that it would look good with a bright-orange-tissue-paper-crown on top. Maybe you could plan ahead to coordinate your Christmas day outfit so that it would match these common Christmas hat colors: Red, Bright green, dark purple, bright yellow, bright orange, and dark blue or black. Pray that you get the black hat if you do pull too hard and win the Christmas cracker– it looks more suave then the other colors.

The Queen’s Speech: You should be prepared to watch the Queen’s Speech, regardless of what you think of the Royal Family. My mother-in-law has tons of collectible “Royal plates” on her wall so I knew it was going to be a given. Although some British families (probably not many) do not watch the Royal Christmas message, so just be prepared to stop your Christmas dinner to watch. Or, your Christmas dinner will revolve around the Queen’s speech timed to absolute perfection when the teas and coffees are served. Practice some lines beforehand saying nice things about the Queen even though her speech might seem fake, over-rehearsed and out of touch with reality. Easy for her to say ” I hope all the hungry children in the world get food to eat this Christmas”– she lives in a castle for heaven’s sake!

Boxing Day: Just when you thought Christmas was over comes along Boxing day. Think positive: at least you are not at work like a lot of American employees back home! Yet, it is another day where everyone sits around in a food coma and eats lots of left-over beef and mincers while watching football matches you probably don’t give a hoot about. Around this point you might have had a few scuffles with your British partner and their family, probably unintentionally and probably about topics like their mother-in-law offending you, and what time you are going to leave. A lot of British families like to take walks in the country on this day– you could fake a headache or indigestion if the thought of that is not appealing. At that point Christmas is about over anyway. And you will have made it through. Score!

Thanks for reading and Happy Christ– I mean, Merry Christmas!

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Boxing Day was introduced in Victorian times, when people “boxed up” gifts for the poor/charity. Now it’s another excuse to over-indulge, as you say!

    I know few people who watch the Queen’s Speech– not big around my way obviously! She says the same blimming thing every year: “What a marvellous year it’s been for the Commonwealth”…

    Oh well, better than President Prescott would be!

  2. Thameser December 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I am British and I even prefer saying “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Christmas”.
    It goes better with “Happy New Year”
    Great blog!

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