Five Uniquely British Holiday Traditions

Five Uniquely British Holiday Traditions

While the United Kingdom may not have too many traditions on part with The Christmas Poop Log, it does have many traditions that stem from some of the earliest in Europe, which have been lost to those of us in the United States. Many of these traditions continue to change, especially as awareness of them increases all over the world, but they are all worth trying out, especially if you are visiting the United Kingdom for the holidays.

Go Watch A Pantomime

Pantomimes, or pantos, are incredibly campy plays intended for the entire family. There is a great amount of audience participation, and the stories are typically based on familiar fairy tales, with exciting production numbers. There’s also plenty of adult humor that flies under the wire for kids.

Christmas Crackers

Don’t get it twisted – rather, get it pulled – Christmas crackers are not the edible kind of cracker. They’re called crackers because of the traditional “bang” noise they make when pulled. Two people each take one end of the cracker, and the person who ends up with the center of it in their hand, keeps the contents – usually a small gift, paper crown and a bad joke. Created in 1847 by a baker named Tom Smith, they can be found in shops all through the UK in anticipation of the holiday season.

Boxing Day

Some people don’t realize that there are various types of gift-giving traditions throughout the world. The United Kingdom (and Canada and other former parts of the UK) are no exception. Boxing day is the day after Christmas, and it originated as a day to give presents to the poor or this people in service positions. Now, it is more traditionally a day for shopping – usually online, as the UK likes to keep things shut down on Christmas and a little the day after.

Watching the Queen

A Christmas tradition since 1957 – though she did it on radio before that – is watching a 10 minute message from the Queen played at 3 PM GMT. She is there to help people ring in a festive, secure Christmas, a tradition that has been around so long that there are generations who have never known a Christmas without a word from Her Majesty the Queen.

Christmas Specials

A television series in the UK wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t put out a Christmas special during the holiday season. Usually some sort of standalone story, regardless of the main story of the show, the Christmas episode is put on as a reminder that your favorite TV characters – even on Dr. Who – are sometimes around for Christmas.


If you live in the United States, some of these traditions might seem similar to some of your own. Some others that we share with them – like lighting a Christmas tree – actually originate in Germany, and were brought over by Prince Albert of Germany, who married Queen Victoria. Because of their tree and decorations, the tradition caught on in a matter of years, in the UK and the U.S.

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