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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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Facts about Christmas

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


Father ChristmasFacts about Father Christmas

Father Christmas has two addresses, Edinburgh and the North Pole. Letters addressed to 'TOYLAND' or 'SNOWLAND' go to Edinburgh, but letters addressed to 'THE NORTH POLE' have to be sent there because there really is such a place!


rudolfWhat are the names of Santa's reindeer?
Father Christmas' reindeers are called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner/Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Eight of these names are taken from Clement C. Moore's "A Visit From St. Nicholas," and the ninth from the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (NB. Donder is also known as Donner.)


snowWhite Christmas

England has only known seven white Christmases in the entire twentieth century. According to the records of the Meteorological Office in London, snow fell on Christmas Day only in 1938 and 1976.

(The definition of a white Christmas in England is when one snowflake falls on the roof of the London Weather Centre in the 24 hours of 25 December.)

The last time we had a White Christmas with snow falling across the UK was 2004, although large parts of the southeast England missed significant falls.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are more likely to have a white Christmas than England.


Facts about Christmas Food

An old wives' tale says that bread baked on Christmas Eve will never go mouldy.© copyright of

The Christmas turkey was imported to France by the Jesuits and it is still known in some French dialects as a 'Jesuite'.

Christmas Turkey

Christmas pudding was first made as a kind of thick soup with raisins and wine in it.

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding originates from an old, Celtic dish known as 'frumenty'.

In the 19th century, the Christmas Cake was eaten on Christmas Eve. It was consider unlucky to cut a Christmas cake before dawn on Christmas Eve.

It is considered unlucky to cut a mince pie with a knife.

Mince pies should only be eaten between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night and one should be eaten on every day of the twelve days of Christmas to bring good luck.


Facts about Christmas Day

25th December was not celebrated as the birthday of Christ until the year AD 440. © copyright of

The Queen's Christmas speech was televised for the first time in 1957.

Christmas crackers were invented by Thomas Smith. He had imported some French novelties to sell as Christmas gifts, but these were not popular until he wrapped them up and added a snapper. © copyright of

image: crackers
Christmas crackers


Chrsitmas treeFacts about Christmas Decorations

Each year between 34-36 million Christmas trees are produced to cope with the holiday demand.© copyright of

Electric tree lights were first used just 3 years after Thomas Edison has his first mass public demonstration of electric lights back in 1879. Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. His lights were a huge hit. It took quite a few years, however, before they would be made available to the general public.© copyright of

In 1895 Ralph Morris, an American telephonist, invented the string of electric Christmas lights similar to the ones we use today. The actual strings of lights had already been manufactured for use in telephone switchboards. Morris looked at the tiny bulbs and had the idea of using them on his tree.


Christmas Banned

In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Christmas festivities were banned by Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry on what was supposed to be a holy day to be immoral. Anybody caught celebrating Christmas was arrested. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660. © copyright of


Facts about Christmas Cards and Christmas Post

Christmas cardsIn 1843, the first Christmas card was created on the instructions of an Englishman, Sir Henry Cole. J.C. Horsley designed the card and sold 1000 copies in London.

Postmen in Victorian England were popularly called "robins". This was because their uniforms were red. Victorian Xmas cards often showed a robin delivering Xmas mail. © copyright of

In the nineteenth century, the British Post Office used to deliver cards on Christmas morning.

The first Christmas stamp was released in Canada in 1898.


Facts about Christmas Carols

Christmas CarolsSt Francis of Assisi introduced Christmas Carols to formal church services.

The word comes from the ancient Greek 'choros', which means "dancing in a circle", and from the Old French word carole, meaning "a song to accompany dancing".© copyright of

The first instrument on which the carol "Silent Night" was played was a guitar. © copyright of

The popular Christmas song "Jingle Bells" was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont, and was originally called "One-Horse Open Sleigh". It was actually written for Thanksgiving, not Xmas.


Facts about Twelfth Night

Three kingsIt is not until Twelfth Night that the figures of the Three Kings are supposed to be added to the Christmas crib.

In Germany, Twelfth Night is known as 'Three Kings Day'.© copyright of

The "Twelve Days of Christmas " gifts: A partridge in a pear tree, two turtledoves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese laying, seven swans swimming, eight maids milking, nine ladies dancing, ten lords leaping, eleven pipers piping, and twelve drummers drumming. There are 364 gifts altogether, one for everyday of the year.

The poem commonly referred to as "The Night Before Christmas" was originally titled "A Visit From Saint Nicholas." This poem was written by Clement Moore for his children and some guests, one of whom anonymously sent the poem to a New York newspaper for publication.

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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.