There are far more similarities than differences when it comes to comparing the Christmas traditions of these two English speaking countries. There is the turkey dinner with cranberries and stuffing, mistletoe, presents on Christmas morning and the tradition of non-religious, fun Christmas songs. But in our blog today we’ll be mentioning 5 things that Americans do not have as a part of their Christmas celebrations and that they may not even be aware of.
The Christmas Number One
In the UK, the song that is at the top of the UK Singles Chart on the week of December the 25th is considered the Christmas number. It is of immense importance and carries a lot for prestige for the artist. Songs are often but not always holiday themed and it can get really quite cutthroat and the anticipation – intense.
The tradition started in 1952 when the list of UK Top Singles appeared in The New Musical Express and the most recent Christmas number was We Built This City by LadBaby.
Mince Pies / Christmas Pudding
These foods are both made from minced (ground) fruits such dates and berries. The Christmas pudding is heavily spice and drenched in liquor before being set ablaze momentarily. Originally it was supposed to be made with 13 different ingredients to represent Christ and the Apostles but over time the rules of how it should be made have relaxed.
The mince pies, which actually look like little miniature pies common in America, date back to the 13th century. They can be made with dried fruit, nuts and even minced meat can be added for good measure along with nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to sweeten it up.
Americans say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to be more inclusive. To the American ear ‘Happy Christmas’ sounds like some kind of strange hybrid or a speaking error.’ It just isn’t said. In the UK it is not only just as socially acceptable as Merry Christmas but it is the norm. Occasionally you might even get shortened down “Merry Chrimbo!”
This is a holiday tradition that everyone loves. Sitting around the Christmas table everyone will share a Christmas cracker with their neighbour. Looking like an enlarged wrapped sweet each person takes one end and they will exchange well wishes before pulling the cracker to a loud SNAP! A small firecracker has been triggered making a cracking noise. There may even be the faint smell of smoke in the air. Now, the contents may vary but there will always be a paper crown, a terrible joke and some small presents. HINT: The more expensive the cracker you buy the better the goodies you get inside.
Do you remember Colin Firth’s character wearing that horrible kitschy Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer jumper in Bridget Jones’ Diary? Well the tradition of wearing gaudy Christmas themed jumpers has been around for a while.
In 2012 Save the Children, a volunteer organization that helps youngsters around the world, started Christmas Jumper Day. Christmas Jumper Day is December 13th and by wearing your silliest jumper you can help raise money for charity.
As an important side note jumpers are called sweaters in America so Christmas jumpers suggests something entirely different to them.
What about you? What UK Christmas traditions or food do you know about that we might not have mentioned? You can mention them in the comment section below.
Cutthroat – ruthless and cruel
Set ablaze – put on fire
Gaudy – extravagantly showy and in poor taste