My red cabin suitcase, my ‘Little Girl Gone’ novel, jacket, train ticket and wallet all checked. It is Tuesday, 22nd December 2015 and I am really excited that I am travelling to Whitley Bay, a beautiful coastal town in the Northeast of Newcastle upon Tyne, to visit some friends who I have known for over 10 years. They are British, born and raised in England and they had invited me to experience a traditional English Christmas.
Christmas tree and Carols
Despite the freezing temperatures, I was happy to be in England during Christmas time. It is such a lovely and vibrant country and even more during Christmas period. Carol songs such as one of my favourite ‘Hark! The Herald Angels sing’can be heard all over the country and from November colorful lights start going up all over the buildings and homes; and huge Christmas trees adorns the center of towns and cities.
I arrive at my friends’ place where I am welcomed with warmth and a huge Christmas tree which looks very stunning with the decorations and colorful gifts underneath.
Like a lot of countries, Carol festival services are also very popular in England. One of the most loved traditional Christmas festivals is the ‘Nine lessons and Carols’. We attended one later that day at Durham Cathedral – it was a candlelight service, lessons were read and the Choir sang amazing. The entire service was truly special and made me feel very christmassy!
23rd Dec – 24th Dec. 2015
During this time, it is quite busy for families in England. They are out shopping for gifts, Food and drinks, baking mince pies (a sweet pastry with fruits inside), as well as preparing for the main Christmas feast.
Christmas day – 25th Dec. 2015
On Christmas day it was a big feast at my friends’ place. The dinner table was decorated with a lit candle at the centre and a Christmas cracker for each person. A cracker is a paper-covered tube and when the ends are pulled, there’s a loud crack! Out spills a paper crown to wear over dinner, a small trinket and a riddle to read out aloud to everyone at the table. We sat at the table and for the main course there was roast turkey, sausages wrapped with rashers, roast potatoes, roast vegetables, ‘all the trimmings’ plus stuffing served with cranberry sauce, bread sauce and a drink either a glass of wine or soft drink. Following the meal there was Christmas pudding, trifle, mince pies and a cup of tea.
After dinner, we gathered in the living room to open Christmas gifts and have more tea and some snacks – biscuits, cake and chocolates. The gifts were open in front of everyone and the person had to first guess what it is. It was such a pleasant time filled with laughter and stories.
Boxing day – 26th Dec. 2015
This is the day after Christmas. We had Christmas leftovers, took a walk to the beach and played games. You will note these are usually the typical activities done in England on boxing day. Others also flock to shops due to massive discounts available.
Final thoughts: There are many Christmas traditions that are followed by many different people around the world. Every culture and family has their own unique Christmas traditions that they follow each and every year, which is what makes them a tradition. That said, what matters most is spending time with friends and family. I know it’s late to say happy new year….but here it goes! Happy new year and wishing you all a year rich with the blessings of love, joy, warmth, and laughter. Feel free to leave a comment below xx