Exploring English Christmas traditions in London, what you need to know

Exploring English Christmas traditions in London, what you need to know

By Thu Ha Larkin

The English have their own special traditions for the festive period and what better way to see and indulge in them than in a private luxury car? Although Christmas in London is usually packed, it’s worth to look into some interesting facts to see how to enjoy the English Christmas traditions with hassle free.

Christmas Market

Christmas shopping

London is a shopping hotspot and all the shops vie to outdo each other with their Christmas displays. The classic locations of Oxford Street and Regent Street have been decked out every year since 1954 with the most stunning lighting displays and this year the big switch-on happens on Thursday 16th November.

The switch-on itself has become a big event in recent years and runs from 4pm until 9pm. Entertainment from Paloma Faith, Clean Bandit, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe will be hosted by Heart London DJ Jamie Theakston and ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton.

Toy shopping and Father Christmas

If you only see one shop in Regent Street at Christmas, it has to be Hamleys. This world-famous toy store, established in 1760, really pushes the boat out with fantastic displays over seven floors.

Many shops in England will feature a chance to meet Santa Claus at his Christmas grotto. Shopping and tourist centres across London will have grottos, such as Leicester Square (outdoor), both Westfield centres (Stratford and Shepherds Bush) and many more.

Christmas sales

Visitors might find the Christmas sales a bit odd. Traditionally held to clear the shops of stock ready for the New Year, the sales have a huge history. People often camp out in queues (another quaint English tradition) for days on end, desperate to be the first to bag the big bargains when the sales kick off the day after Christmas.

Christmas trees

The English love their Christmas trees! They began to appear in England around 1830, then in 1841, Queen Victoria started having decorated fir trees in Windsor Castle every Christmas.

A drawing of one of her Christmas trees was published in the Illustrated London News, then later in an American magazine. Within a few years, Christmas trees were all the rage across the UK and the USA.

Tour around the Christmas sights

Since 1947, the city of Oslo in Norway has donated a large tree every year to be erected in Trafalgar Square. This was in gratitude for Britain’s support of Norway throughout the Second World War. The tree now forms a centrepiece of Christmas decorations in the centre of London, not far from Piccadilly and Regent Street.

A chauffeured sightseeing tour around that area in December would be a fantastic way to see the major lights of the city and a true English Christmas. You could take in the glittering River Thames and the London Eye, all of which are in close proximity to the major shopping areas.

Mulled wine – traditional Christmas drink

Just as the Germans like a glass of ‘Gluhwein’ and the Swedes their ‘glogg’, the English have mulled wine. Red wine is usually the base although mulled cider (a traditional English alcoholic drink made from apples) is also made, traditionally called “wassail punch”.

The spices used have varied over time and there is no set recipe, but the mulled wine you will find offered from street carts at markets over Christmas will usually feature cinnamon, cloves and grated nutmeg, less frequently mace, ginger and fennel. Citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons will be added as well as a generous amount of dark sugar.

Puddings and pies

English Christmas food is special too. Rich, dark and spicy Christmas puddings are traditionally made months before Christmas and left to mature; the alcohol keeps them from going off! When serving it is traditional to set them alight at the table to burn off some of the excess. It is then served with brandy butter, full cream or custard.

The Christmas cake is also made months beforehand from a similar mix including dried fruits, nuts and lots of alcohol, but it isn’t iced until just before Christmas. The English Christmas also wouldn’t be the same without mince pies; small pies with a filling of ‘mince’ – ingredients very similar to those used for the pie and cake.

Exploring the Christmas season in style

Why not try to explore the English Christmas in London in a luxury chauffeur, tasting some hot mulled wine while listening to the choir at a corner of Oxford Street. Belgravia Chauffeurs is offering 20% off on all chauffeur bookings between 10 December and 31 December. To avoid traffic jam & delayed trains, get your Christmas plan sorted from now.

 

About Author: Thu Ha Larkin is a fashion & travel blogger who writes for different blogs and websites. She is now working at Belgravia Chauffeurs as a Digital Marketing Specialist. She spends most of her weekends to visit different places around the world and the UK to enrich her life and travel experience.

Email: thuha@belgraviachauffeurs.co.uk

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