If you are used to celebrating Christmas Down Under, the festive season in the United Kingdom can come as quite a shock; and a pleasant one, at that.
So, have a jolly good Christmas with these five major differences you can expect to experience this British silly season.
1) Winter and a possible White Christmas
Let’s start with the obvious and probably the biggest shock to the system for any Aussie who’s moved to the UK – the temperature! Sweltering summer Christmas heats and sun-soaked beaches are replaced with freezing winds and ominous grey skies.
The British weather is an acquired taste, but it’s one you will eventually learn to love, and it may just deliver you something special at Christmas.
If you are very lucky, you may even get some snow for that rare and fabled White Christmas. This is when your Yuletide can turn into something extra magical, especially for the kids. Waking up to a blanket of snow is a fantastic sight on Christmas morning. Just like in the movies!
Sure, it may be cold and miserable outside, but hibernating indoors around a warm fire with your family is a great feeling. It may seem crazy, but there is also a certain satisfaction that comes from wrapping up in your coat, gloves, scarf and woolly hat before you brave the elements.
2) The Christmas banquet
In Australia, the idea of slaving over a hot turkey roast in 40 degree temperatures is unthinkable (and yet we still do it). A spread of cold meats and salad was much more preferable; or better yeat, seafood!
In the UK, however, the allure of a traditional, hot Christmas dinner makes a lot of sense when you’ve barricaded yourself inside, away from the elements.
3) Real Christmas trees
Sure, we might be able to get a ‘real’ Christmas tree in Oz, but it’s an ever rarer thing and let’s be honest, our spindly pines with the long curvy arms just aren’t the proper bushy triangular things on the Christmas cards and TV shows.
Britons loves their Christmas trees. It seems they’re on sale at almost every street corner in the weeks leading up to the big day and there are even retailers that specialise in providing real, authentic and even luxury Christmas trees.
There’s a very real sense of satisfaction that comes from decorating a traditional Christmas tree that was grown right here in UK. And the needles point the right way… the real deal.
4) When to put up the Chrissy decorations
A lot of Aussies were probably gob-smacked to learn how late Brits put their Christmas decorations up. In Australia, decorations would usually be sorted out and put into place at the start of December.
Although the timing varies a little depending on who you talk to, Brits tend to put their decorations up 12 days before Christmas, and take them down 12 days after. However, this is a rule that many Brits themselves break, due to festive impatience.
5) Christmas time activities
In the UK, the one thing you definitely won’t be doing on Christmas morning is heading down for a day at the beach. At Christmas time the UK is in the depths of winter, so wrap up warm if you intend to do anything outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to receive a generous layer of snow around the holiday period, a day of sledding and snowball fights are great family activities.
If the weather takes a turn for the damp and depressing — which is a lot more likely — Brits are big on family bonding through board games and activities like charades and Pictionary before settling down for a good classic family movie on the telly like Mary Poppins or even the tragi/triumphant The Great Escape.
On Boxing Day: forget the Melbourne Test match (unless it’s the Ashes) or the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. As ever, in England it’s all about the football.