On December 22nd, BI will celebrate the holidays British Isles style!!
We will meet at the North Pole in a UK Den at 5 pm GMT (12 noon EST, 9 am PST) to celebrate the holidays in style! Wear your British, Scottish, Irish or holiday inspired fashions as our pawty reaches across the Atlantic with our beary best friends! Happy Christmas everybody! We are sure to have a lot of fun and everybody is invited!
How are the holidays celebrated in the United Kingdom?
Most families have a Christmas Tree in their house for Christmas. The decorating of the tree is usually a family occasion, with everyone helping. Christmas Trees were first popularised the UK by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.This was in 1848 (over 160 years ago!! Thank you, Prince Albert!!) Prince Albert was German, and thought that it would be good to use one of his ways of celebrating Christmas in to England.
Click Comments to read more of the story!
Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are also sometimes used to decorate homes or other buildings.
Like a lot of countries, Nativity Plays and Carol Services are also very popular at Christmas time – like Carols by Candlelight Service where the church is only lit up by candles.
Children believe that Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung up by the fire or by the children’s beds on Christmas Eve. Children sometimes leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas to eat when he visits them
Children write letters to Father Christmas listing their requests, but sometimes instead of putting them in the post, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draught carries the letters up the chimney and Father Christmas reads the smoke.
There are some customs that only take place, or were started, in the UK. Wassailing is an old anglo-saxon custom that doesn’t take place much today. Boxing Day (Dec 26th) is a very old custom that started in the UK and is now taken as a holiday in many countries around the world.
In Scotland, some people celebrate New Year’s Eve (which is called Hogmanay) more than Christmas! The word Hogmanay comes from a kind of oat cake that was traditionally given to children on New Year’s Eve.
Also in Scotland, the first person to set foot in a house in a New Year is thought to have a big effect on the fortunes of the people that live there! Generally strangers are thought to bring good luck. Depending on the area, it may be better to have a dark-haired or fair-haired stranger set foot in the house. This tradition is widely known as ‘first footing’. In England it is sometimes said that a stranger coming through the door carrying a lump of coal will bring good luck.
In Scots (a Scottish dialect) Happy Christmas is ‘Blithe Yule’; in Gaelic it’s ‘Nollaig Chridheil’; and in Welsh (which is spoken in some parts of Wales it’s ‘Nadolig Llawen’. .
In the UK, the main Christmas Meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day. It was traditionally roast goose, although it’s common to have turkey now, roast vegetables and ‘all the trimmings’ which means stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages. (In Scotland, some people might even have Haggis instead of turkey!) Dessert is often Christmas Pudding. Mince pies and lots of chocolates are often eaten as well! The dinner table is decorated with a cracker for each person and sometimes flowers and candles.
Traditionally the Christmas season begins on 8 December in Ireland and lasts until 6 January. Christmas is a wonderful time to be in Ireland. In Ireland there is still a deeper sense of the meaning of the season here. As you walk through the streets of cities like Cork you may hear choirs large and small singing on the sidewalks, street musicians with flutes, harps, violins or guitars playing the strains of familiar carols or favourite Christmas recordings wafting from the shops.While few private homes decorate outside beyond the festive wreath on the door, the towns, cities and shops go all out. The Christmas season doesn’t really get into full swing in Ireland until December when streets are lined with lit decorations and live Christmas trees are often mounted like flag staffs from building fronts. Larger department stores and shops fill their windows with animated scenes and figures.