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Project Britain

British Christmas Traditions
by Mandy Barrow

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Project Britain
A British Christmas
Online Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars
Boxing Day
Christmas - intro
Christmas Cards
Christmas Carols
Christmas Crackers
Christmas Day
Christmas Dinner
Christmas Eve
Christmas Facts
Christmas Jokes
Christmas Plant
Christmas Pudding
Christmas Tea
Christmas Trees
Xmas Decorations
Father Christmas
Meaning of Christmas
Mince Pies
Mummers Plays
Santa Claus
Stir Up Sunday
Teaching Resources
Twelfth Night
Twelfth Day
Twelve Days of Christmas
Yule Log

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Christmas Day in Britain

Woodlands Junior School is in the south-east corner of England

Christmas presents are opened on Christmas Day.

Opening Christmas Stocking Presents

Christmas Day is the favourite day for children. They wake up very early in the morning to find their stockings have been filled by Father Christmas and excitedly unwrap the presents before going down to breakfast.

image: opening stocking
Opening the Christmas Stocking

The Main Presents

Family presents are opened either late morning or during the afternoon. The family gather together to open the presents found under the Christmas tree.

opening presents
Opening the presents under the Christmas tree

Why do we give each other presents on Christmas Day?

The tradition of giving gifts is thought to be related to the gifts that the wise men (the Magi) brought to Jesus.

Traditional Activities
on Christmas Day in Britain

Church Services


Many Christians will go to church to sing carols and to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. More people attend the church on this day than any other day of the year. People put on their best clothes to go to church.

Christmas Dinner and Christmas Tea

Christmas Dinner

The whole family sit down for Christmas dinner at mid-day.

Early evenng they have a Christmas Tea

The Queen's Speech

image: The Queen

A traditional feature of Christmas afternoon is the Queen's Christmas Message. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the Queen gives her Christmas Message to the nation which is broadcast on radio and television.

The Queen's message is also broadcast throughout the British Commonwealth. The first televised broadcast of the Queen's Christmas message was in 1957, but it is a tradition begun on the radio in 1932 by George V. f

The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film `Royal Family' was shown and a written message from The Queen issued.

In 2007, The Queen launched her own channel on video-sharing website YouTube, which featured the message.

Queen on Youtube

The launch marks the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first televised festive address in 1957.

Christmas Crackers



The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas Day.

(Click on the link on the left to find out more about Christmas Crackers)

copyright of


Why to the English wear king's paper crowns on Christmas Day?

Paper CrownWe wear paper hats on special occasions like Christmas Day and birthday parties. The tradition of wearing hats at parties goes back to the Roman Saturnalia celebrations (celebrated around 25 December) when the participants also wore hats.

The idea of wearing a paper crown may have originated from the Twelfth Night celebrations, where a King or Queen was appointed to look over the proceedings.

The paper crown hats we wear today are found inside the Christmas crackers. Crackers are very traditional items to have at Christmas. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people and each one contains a small toy, a joke or motto, and a tissue-paper crown hat, usually a crown.

The Christmas Cracker
Visit our Christmas Crackers page

Interesting Facts

Up until the 1960's is was compulsory for all Roman Catholics to attend a Mass on Christmas Day. The law for this compulsory attendance was passed during the 16th century.

In 1551, playing sport on Christmas Day was made illegal. This law was later ignored.

In 1834, Christmas Day became one of only four days on which banks closed. The Bank Holiday Act of 1871 extended the official Christmas holiday to include the following day (Boxing Day).

Read about how English kids spend Christmas Day

back to the topLearn about England and the other countries in Britain
from the children who live in there

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.