Anything about Christmas in Britain, including Britain’s Christmas traditions and celebrations.

Stocking fillers?

Stocking fillers, books, about Britain

Someone remonstrated with me the other day, saying that I could do more to promote my books.  Being the sort of chap that always takes advice, I have consequently embarked upon a brazen, crass, plug of the most vulgar kind.  Buy one of my books!  No – buy two!  If I publish another, buy that […]

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The ten best things about Christmas

Best things about Xmas

“The ten best things about Christmas” is entirely subjective; everyone has their own, unique, perception of an event.  Even if you took a poll, the results would depend on who and how many participated and, anyway, ‘best’ is not something that can be determined by a majority vote.  All that said, it is a good

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The gardens at Sandringham

Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk house

Sandringham is the private Norfolk home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Unlike the monarch’s other properties, such as Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, which are owned by the Crown Estate, Sandringham is one of two residences that the Queen personally owns – the other being Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.  She inherited Sandringham from her

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A Christmas Carol – a ghost story of Christmas

Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” And so Charles Dickens modestly introduces us

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Kings and carols

King's College, Cambridge

Every Christmas Eve, millions of people all round the world tune in to their TVs or radios to listen to carols from King’s – or ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ – from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. The broadcasts are an essential part of Christmas for many; for some, they mark the beginning of the Christmas celebrations,

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The A-Z of Christmas in Britain

A-Z of Christmas

A version of this feature is included in the book, ‘A Bit about Britain’s High Days and Holidays’. Of course, Christmas is Christmas and the basics are ubiquitous in any country with a Christian tradition.  That said, everybody celebrates it, if they celebrate it at all, in their own way.  Each family seems to have

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Christmas at Liberty

Liberty London, shop window, Christmas 2014

Don’t think I haven’t noticed that people are talking about Christmas.  In our local, The Olde Ruptured Duck, decorations started to appear weeks ago and nearby houses are lit up like, well, Christmas trees.  I’ve seen things on TV too, since about October: y’know, shops and what-not, each flogging their own version of seasonal perfection

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

Christmas Truce, 1914, German and British troops mingle

In the dying moments of 1914 and the opening days of 1915, remarkable stories began to circulate in Britain’s newspapers.  The stories came from France and Belgium, where great armies were locked in mighty conflict, and told of a truce between British and German soldiers.  At this time of peace and goodwill, it was said

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The custom and origins of Christmas crackers

Christmas cracker, Christmas traditions

We take traditions for granted but, when you think about it, some of them are pretty weird.  Amongst the more bizarre British Christmas customs are Christmas crackers.  I refer, not to dry biscuits eaten with cheese and pâté, but to short tubes of cardboard covered with coloured paper, twisted at both ends, each typically containing

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A bit about Christmas cards

Christmas card, peace on earth

  A brief history of Christmas cards Of course, there is nothing new about the custom of contact at Christmas.  In 1843, Sir Henry Cole (1808-82), a civil servant, inventor and author, was juggling his heavy workload with his habit of writing Christmas letters to his many friends and relatives.  Cole thought that sending a

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