My favourite time of the year is here! I’ve always loved the magic of Christmas, the food, the presents, but above all, the time I spend with my family. Having said that, after moving to England, I feel like the magic has actually increased! Why? The weather and all the traditions about Christmas in England give it an even nicer feeling. Shame my family in Brazil is not here but at least I have now a family of my own!
So I would like to share some of the English traditions which are absolutely fine but that when I first came, I had no idea they existed. If you are a foreigner, I hope you relate. If you are English and reading this, I hope you laugh and have more sympathy with all the funny foreigners out there who look puzzled about your traditions!
This is a tradition that I love and hate at the same time. I think it is lovely but also I waste of paper, money and time! Nevertheless, I embraced it. I feel lazy to start off with myself but once I receive my first Christmas card, I feel quite excited to buy cards and send them to everybody I know. Having said that, sometimes I feel like the people who send them are literally just ticking a tradition off their list. Why? Because they simply put my name (and now Dan and Alex’s as well) maybe a “love” and their names at the bottom. No personal message, nothing. As in Brazil, we don’t have this tradition at all, I find quite sweet that people here are making an “effort” to think of you (even though they don’t write any message on the card). Once I embraced the tradition, I used to write “books” on my cards explaining to the person I was giving it to, why it’s been great having them this year and my “plans” for our relationship for the following year. Now I decided that I don’t have all the time in the world to write on them anymore, so I do like the Brits (except that I make an effort to write at least “look forward to seeing you soon in the new year”). Feel lucky if you get one because these days my funny head just forgets to send to some special people!!
They look great but they are deceiving! Any foreigner who hasn’t been introduced properly to them will probably think they are about to have a delicious savoury pie made with mince meat. Just like me, a Swedish and American friends of mine also felt fooled! Why not call them super sweet dried fruit mini pie? The truth is, they are tolerable but to be perfectly honest, I can totally give it a miss and save the calories for the Christmas lunch.
My first sight of a Christmas cracker made me think: “is this a giant candy or what”? I have spent Christmas in Brazil, USA, Spain but nowhere had such tradition. I didn’t even know what I should do with it and which way my arms should go! It was a big surprise for me that it pops and that it has “gifts”, “charades” and “paper crowns”! I like to believe the crowns are to remind the Brits that they come from a country with royals and that everyone should feel like a king during Christmas!
The Christmas lunch
For me, it’s like a super-sized “Sunday roast”, which has all the trimmings but with Turkey! Oh and with the obligatory sausages wrapped in bacon known as “pig in blankets”. I have to admit, I do love them! I’ve also learned to love Brussels sprouts but not for its taste but for being packed with vitamin c. As I have been here for so many years, I have learned to love the rice free feast (yes, we have rice for Christmas in Brazil).
I had never heard that a sort of “cake” full of dried fruits had to be drenched in brandy so many days beforehand in other to “burn” on Christmas day. First time I tried it, I didn’t like it. It is very rich and I am not a big fan of dried fruits in a very sweet cake but yet, with a bitter taste. However, unlike Marmite (which I hate), I learned to love this pudding. I strongly recommend all foreigners out there to give it a chance. After all, it is an “experience” and full of alcohol.
I love that Christmas here feels longer than anywhere else in the world. We start possibly having on the 24th the pre-Christmas drinks and/ or church for carols. On the 25th, the opening of the presents and the actual Christmas lunch with the family. And on the 26th, it is time to get rid of all the boxes from the presents, right? Well, that is what I thought anyway, otherwise, what is the point to be called “Boxing Day”? To play boxing? Well, I learned that if I want a bargain, that is the day for shopping (if you don’t mind being squashed by the crowds, especially at Oxford Street). Otherwise, it is the second feast day that my mother in law kindly puts together for the family, giving Christmas that extended feeling.
Merry Christmas no matter which nationality you are from! And let’s pray for peace to the world everyone!!