It’s that time of the year again. It’s getting colder outside, the nights are getting longer, and children are eagerly writing their wish lists for Santa Claus.
Those living in America might think that Christmas is the same all over the world, however, there are some pretty big discrepancies between the ways some countries celebrate it.
This list will go over the differences between Christmas in America and England. We compare everything from Father Christmas to Santa Claus, Chrimbo to Christmas, and other holiday traditions that are slightly different depending on which side of the Atlantic you call home.
1. Father Christmas or Santa Claus: Young children in England refer to Santa Claus as Father Christmas. While Father Christmas and Santa Claus weren’t always synonymous during the last century, they have essentially become the same thing. Before Victorian times, Father Christmas was more concerned with adult feasting and merry-making and had nothing to do with children or giving gifts. He also wore a green suit, not a red one.
2. Letters for Santa: In England, instead of sending your wish lists to Santa via the mail service, you instead place your wish list in the fireplace and set it on fire. How does Santa Claus see their wish lists if it’s nothing but ash? Magic.
3. Gifts under the tree?: There is nothing that gives me that Christmas-time feeling like placing gifts under the Christmas tree. In England, however, gifts are not placed under the tree, they are placed at the foot of your bed in a big stocking.
4. Boxing Day: The day after Christmas in England is a holiday called Boxing Day. The day after Christmas in America (although they do celebrate Boxing day in Canada) is called December 26th. There is no agreed upon theory as to where Boxing Day gets its name, although the Oxford English Dictionary does give this definition: “the first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box.”
5. Christmas Dinner: Like in America, Christmas Dinner in England is a big occasion, although there are a few subtle differences. For example, roasted Turkey is a must for Christmas dinner in England, while some American households might opt for ham or goose. Other slight differences that are reserved only for Christmas in England include bread sauce, which isn’t a sauce for bread, but a sauce thickened with bread, and bacon wrapped sausages. Yum.
6. White Christmas: While it is possible to have a white Christmas in England, more often than not, it will probably end up being a green, rainy Christmas instead. While it doesn’t snow everywhere in America, if you are in one of the Northern States or in Canada, you can pretty much guarantee you will be getting a White Christmas.
7: Home Decor: This isn’t to say that they don’t put up Christmas decorations in England, but when you compare the decorations Americans put up to the English, there isn’t really much competition. Like everything else, Americans do things BIG.
8: Christmas desserts: While Americans may satisfy their post-dinner sweet tooth with a piece of pumpkin or pecan pie, residents of England will quench their sugary urges with a helping of Christmas pudding or mince pie. Christmas pudding is composed of dried fruits held together with egg and suet and flavored with a variety of spices.
9. Christmas crackers and paper hats: It’s customary in England to open your Christmas crackers and don your paper hat before you eat dinner. What is a Christmas cracker exactly? Well, it isn’t the kind you eat with cheese. It is a small present that opens by pulling on its two sides. When you pull on the two sides, it explodes. Nothing helps you get into the holiday spirit like a literal explosion before dinner.
10. Christmas Lights: If there is one tradition that Americans would surely miss in England, it would be the lack of decorative lights. This is not to say that there are no Christmas lights in England, they’re just not to the same extent as in America.
11. Chrimbo: When someone wishes you a Happy Chrimbo they aren’t having a stroke, they are probably just English. Chrimbo is an English slang word for Christmas. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is used when speaking in regards to the holiday’s more secular and commercial elements.
12: Treats for Santa: Kids in America often leave some cookies and milk for Santa Claus, maybe even some carrots for the reindeer. Kids in England, however, treat Father Christmas like the adult he is and leave him some brandy, cookies, and mince pie.