It's the time of year for Santa Claus, fairy lights and all the best pop songs. What are the essential elements of Christmas in the UK?

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It's that time of the year for family, friends … and cheesy Christmas music. For many people, Christmas is quite simply (as an old pop song says) 'the most wonderful time of the year'. For others, it is an exhausting exercise in bad taste. So what does a British Christmas involve?

Special days

Christmas is a celebration that lasts for several days. In the UK and many other countries, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Day (25 December). From the Christian origins of the holiday, this day marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Eve (24 December) is the time for last-minute shopping and preparations, present-wrapping and maybe a drink in the pub. Others will be at home preparing food for the big day or at a midnight church service to welcome Christmas Day. Boxing Day (26 December) is also a national holiday in the UK – a necessary one for many, to recover after eating too much the day before! Shops are usually open on Boxing Day and the big after-Christmas sales begin.

Decorations

From huge cities to tiny villages, the month of December sees buildings and streets covered in coloured lights, red ribbons and smiling Santa Claus faces. People also decorate their houses (and sometimes their gardens) for the Christmas period. The most famous decoration is, of course, the Christmas tree – a pine tree covered in little shiny decorations and fairy lights. Some people put a nativity scene in their house. This is a collection of little figures who represent the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. 

Family and friends

Christmas is a time to be with the people you love. Often, this involves travelling to your hometown to be with parents, siblings, cousins, old friends, etc. For some households, it's the only time of the year when all the family is together. In the UK, this is usually a time for chats, cups of tea and watching Christmas films together. However, it can also lead to occasional family tension. But don't worry: there are plenty of impossibly cheerful pop songs to help everyone relax!

Food

Christmas meals vary across households, but the most common Christmas dinner in the UK is a roasted turkey with vegetables and potatoes. This may be accompanied by stuffing (made with bread, onions and herbs) and pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon or pastry). And, of course, delicious mince pies – little sweet cakes with fruit inside. This is, of course, fantastic if someone is cooking for you. If you're the cook, you may feel under a little pressure as the extended family start arriving for dinner!

Presents

Christmas is certainly the most wonderful time of the year for retailers! The days and weeks before Christmas are characterised by frantic shopping for presents. Many groups of friends or workmates take part in a 'Secret Santa' group. This is where each person buys a small present for one other person in the group, but the identity of the giver is never revealed. In many countries, Christmas Eve is a night for kids to go to bed early before their house is visited by Santa Claus, a magic man in a red suit who leaves presents for all the kids in the house.

Parties

Apart from dinner at home with family or friends, Christmas is also a time for parties. At school, children often do a Christmas theatre performance or sing Christmas carols in a concert, then have a party with sweets and cakes. For adults, most workplaces usually have their Christmas 'do'. This can be a dinner in a restaurant or just a few drinks in a bar. At workplace parties, many romances have started under the mistletoe, a special plant which people hang from the ceiling. If you meet somebody under the mistletoe, the tradition is to kiss that person. 

However you celebrate Christmas, for many it's a time for having fun and spending time with the people you love. Plastic decorations and neon Santa Claus faces might be considered to be in bad taste by some people, but without them, it simply wouldn't be Christmas.

Discussion

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Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

I don't celebrate Christmas, but I like to do it. Christmas is definitely one of the biggest international events, people celebrate it in many part of the world. When I was a child I always enjoyed of watching christmas films or cartoons, I wish we had such a celebration in my country.
I still like to watch movies about Christmas, I like colorful decoration of Chritstmas trees, fancy lights, presents under Christmas tree, Christmas carols, Santa claus who fly through the skies in sleigh with flying deers. eating turkey in Christmas night and falling snow, etc . That all seem awesome . I really should try to feel it and travel to a country which has Christmas celebration.

I celebrate Christmas with some special food and beer.When I was kids my parent did't revealed to me who is Santa Claus.Santa give me a present such as game,baseball bat.I had been really love Christmas ,but recently I don't celebrate ,I just eat meal ,drink beer.There are nothing special.

I love the way christians celebrate their festoval for eg preparing different kinds of foods, meeting with their family and frnds etc and the most awesome thing is to kiss one's love under the tree.wow!
I wil must celebrate i get there to UK once.

No, i belong to the Muslim religion so i do not believe that Jesus born on 25th of December instead we believe that he had taken to sky by the GOD. Although in our country we celebrate Christmas with our christian community to show respect for their faith. Not all buildings get decorated with lights but some church and buildings related to christian minority definitely get some attention.

My family doesn't celebrate the Christmas because of their religion but the birthday of my grandma is on Christmas Eve. So we costumed celebrate the grandma birthday on 24 December. After my grandma is gone we just keep doing a dinner this day to reunite the family and remembering about her.

I used to celebrate Christmas, but it is not my festival now.

No worry can celebrate it with your friends if u r in UK

In my country Christmas is celebrated by many people. It is very similar to what is described in the text. The streets and shops are decorated. In almost every house there is a Christmas tree,
The food is different. The kissing under the mistletoe takes place in the New years eve. On Christmas Eve children go to bed early. They are waiting for Santa Clause to come during the night to put under the Christmas tree presents for them. In some regions friends go on Christmas Eve to each other and sing Christmas Carols (religious songs). Then they are invited in the house and are treated with drinks , candies, cakes, food. This tradition takes place all night .

At home we celebrate Christmas day similar to the text of this magazine. We put the Christmas Tree and decorate it with colored lights and other objects. Here we have two holidays, Christmas (December 25) and San Esteban (26 December), eating and drinking a lot. For children there are many gifts and also for adults of invisible friends.
Merry Christmas.

Today is Christmas and everyone is enjoying the fun atmosphere. My religion is Buddhism but I am very interested in this celebration. Merry Christmas!

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