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.


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!


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!


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.


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.

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Submitted by Min Htet Kaung on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 19:02

During Christmas period, some places in downtown of Yangon,especially Cathedral, and some parks are decorated with christmas trees, colourful lights and ribbons. Temporary shops sell various types of snacks and foods alongside the roads in downtown area. On christmas eve and christmas day, from evening until night, we visit those places, either shopping or browsing. When I was young, in our native town, some christians sang Dhamma songs and prayers in front of houses. In return, we gave some presents to them. This is how we participate in christmas celebration. Although I am a Buddhism, I love christmas.

Submitted by danisep on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 18:01

Yes, I celebrate Christmas and it's too similar to the text, the only difference is that we don't give secret present like in 'secret Santa' we give gifts to everyone in the family especially children when I say family I refer to parents, siblings, and nephews and your girlfriend or couple. We get together to chat, share food and new issues, sometimes comes family that lives in another city. the meal this last year was hayaca a typical food from here bread and deserts.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 14:46

I love December and Christmas.As we are Buddhism, we don't use to celebrate any parties.But, I like to travel in Christmas holidays.

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 14:49

Yes. I does. The difference is best described in terms of varieties of the facts considered in this text.

Submitted by Anaitat on Sat, 28/12/2019 - 15:26

I celebrate Christmas, for me is very important the solemnity of this day and related traditions. In my country, it is at the same time an orthodox and a familiar celebration. This high-day is related with hopes, expectations and hopefulness. Christmas Star on the tree topper incarnated all my fruition of dreams as a child and I expected this holiday all previous days of the year. Now I expect it all previous days of the year, too, and all my wishes and expectations are associated with my son. I prepare to this day during all previous week. Another reason is solemnity of traditions, that learn to respect our parents and grandparents.

Submitted by bugmenot (not verified) on Tue, 26/11/2019 - 07:20

Hi, and for me, Christmas is a special family holiday, I’m not very religious, I follow traditions. I do not impose my ideology on others, but I like the holidays because they have their ideological meaning. The most exciting thing is to give good gifts to relatives, children and my beloved, I especially want to give surprises to each gift in a package with their names, it gives me particular pleasure, and I order these online. I recommend it to everyone if you want to see make nice smiles on the faces of loved ones!

Submitted by parisaach on Sun, 29/09/2019 - 08:39

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.

Submitted by iso on Fri, 08/03/2019 - 14:34

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.

Submitted by Shan on Sat, 05/01/2019 - 09:00

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! I wil must celebrate i get there to UK once.

Submitted by Farrukh Maqsood on Fri, 04/01/2019 - 16:44

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.