Burning letters to Father Christmas, setting off explosives at the dinner table? These may seem crazy to you, but they're perfectly normal behavior at a British Christmas, or as we sometimes call it, "Crimbo."
Here are 10 Christmas traditions that never made it to America.
Letters to Father Christmas.
In America, kids write letters to Santa and put them in the mailbox, but in England, we toss them straight in the fire. We're not trying to make children cry. Burning the letters sends them directly to the North Pole, where Santa can read your Christmas wishes in the smoke. Yes, it may seem a little weird, but it does save on postage.
American children traditionally hang stockings around the fireplace for Santa to fill with presents, but in the UK, we hang stockings around the bed. Being surrounded by presents is a great way to wake up on Christmas morning, and a great way to let Father Christmas, a total stranger who's been watching you all year, get really close to your sleeping body. Sweet dreams! Also, instead of leaving out milk and cookies for Father Christmas, we leave him brandy and a mince pie because he is a grown-up.
A cracker may not seem like the most festive thing to serve on Christmas dinner, but these are not the type of crackers that you put cheese on. A Christmas cracker is a brightly decorated cardboard tube filled with fun prizes. When grabbed and pulled apart, a tiny explosive inside makes a loud cracking noise, hence the name. Inside the cracker is usually a cheesy plastic prize, a paper crown, and a terrible joke.
"Why are ghosts so bad at lying?"
"Because you can see right through them."
I'm so sorry.
Inside the Christmas cracker are colorful paper hats that it is absolutely mandatory to wear. In fact, 90 percent of Christmas arguments stand from trying to make to your grumpiest relative put that paper crown on. The other 10 percent comes from playing Monopoly because there are some Christmas traditions that we share, unfortunately.
A British Christmas dinner is just as big a feast as an American one. The main dish is usually roast turkey, often surrounded by bacon-wrapped chipolatas, which are many pork sausages. Bacon-wrapped miniature pork sausages, now, that's a tradition that you Americans should get behind. We serve the turkey with roast potatoes and veggies, traditionally brussels sprouts, which are gross, but it's tradition, so we eat them anyway. We have gravy to smother everything in, and something called "bread sauce," which isn't a sauce to put on bread, but a sauce that's thickened with bread, which looks a little lumpy but tastes delicious. Then we eat until we can't move and watch telly until we pass out. Sound familiar?
Americans love to have their pumpkin and pecan pies for Christmas dessert, but in the UK, we have Christmas pudding. This is a very dense boiled cake, flavored with dried fruit and spices; it's then soaked in alcohol, aged for several months, boiled again, soaked in alcohol again, and then set on fire. Come to a British Christmas. We soak everything in alcohol and then light it on fire.
The Royal Christmas message.
That's right. Every Christmas day, Her Majesty the Queen gives a holiday speech reflecting on the events of the past year. We all sit around pretending to pay attention but secretly carrying on with whatever it was we were doing before. Think of it as the State of the Union but with much more gold.
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. Its origins are debatable. Some said that it's a day when workers would receive a box of gifts from their bosses, others said that it's a day when people would box up gifts for the poor, but the main thing that happens on Boxing Day nowadays is shopping. It's kind of like a Black Friday, only nobody gets trampled to death.
Every year around the Christmas hols, pretty much every theater in the country puts on a pantomime. These are plays for kids based on fairy tales such as Cinderella and Aladdin, and involving a lot of high camp cross-dressing and audience interaction. They're normally starring jaded celebrities, so if the idea of seeing David Hasslehoff in a dress excites you, you should definitely check one out.
每年將近聖誕假期時，幾乎國內每家戲院會演出一齣啞劇。這些是根據例如《仙履奇緣》和《阿拉丁》的童話故事演給小孩看的戲劇，且包含許多拙劣又高明的男扮女裝和觀眾互動。啞劇通常由過氣名人主演 ，所以如果看 David Hasslehoff 穿洋裝的主意讓你興奮，你一定得去瞧一齣。
Taking down the Christmas tree.
We Brits believe that the Christmas tree and decorations should be taken down within 12 days of Christmas—otherwise you'll have bad luck for the rest of the year. This is maybe a tradition that Americans should consider adopting. I've certainly seen people keep that old, brown, dried, withered Christmas tree until almost the fourth of July.
Those are some of the major differences between British and American Christmases. Thanks for watching. Subscribe for more episodes, and let us know in the comments what you think is the most important part of a proper British Christmas.
註二：Christmas cracker 是聖誕爆竹，但 cracker 同樣也有餅乾的意思。