If there’s one thing for certain, across different households, in different families, no Christmas Day looks the same. Yes, we might all enjoy a carol service and/or a pint in our local on Christmas Eve, and yes there’s the presents, Christmas dinner, Christmas TV and endless amounts of Quality Street before an afternoon snooze on Christmas Day. But, each and every family has its own little quirks and traditions that make Christmas magical for them. I’ll never forget being caught out by not bringing a ‘table present’ to my in-laws the first Christmas I spent with them. I’d never heard of a table present, let alone thought to bring one. My husband was shocked to learn that not every household has extra joke presents at the dinner table. I was embarrassed to have come empty handed to this clearly important (and frankly quite hilarious) family tradition. Equally, when the following year came, he was quietly miffed by my family’s ‘chocolate for breakfast’ tradition, and really missed his bacon sarnie! We’ve come to welcome and enjoy the family traditions that each side of our family hold, and will begin to create our own traditions for our little family.
It got me wondering about other traditions that people have. It’s so much fun to hear how others celebrate the day. So I asked some of the lovely people I work with what makes Christmas, Christmas for them. Here are some of the best and most unusual traditions I found.
Mandy (Deli Counter)
“We have bucks fizz and chocolate for breakfast, it’s the only time chocolate for breakfast isn’t frowned upon. Even the kids have their orange juice in a fancy glass just like the adults, so that they can feel grown up.”
“Like in many households, alcohol features (perhaps admittedly in my house more than most). Even the shot glasses come out as the day goes on. The kids have shots of J20 drinks. All a bit of fun, until one of them wrote in their school Christmas diary that: ‘On Christmas Day we did shots’ – the teacher wasn’t approving. This year we are going out for a curry on Christmas Day. You could say our traditions aren’t very traditional in the conventional sense.”
Marija O’Brien (Restaurant)
“I originally come from Serbia and the most prominent Christian religion there is Orthodox. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on the 7th January with fasting for 40 days before hand. In those 40 days, the only food allowed is vegan food. Fish is served on Christmas eve (6th Jan) and roasted pork is the tradition on Christmas Day. Now that I live in the UK, I don’t celebrate with such strictness, however I do enjoy going to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Bournville on ‘Serbian’ Christmas Eve with some Serbian friends who live over here too, and my husband. There’s a big fire made outside the church and we enjoy mulled wine afterwards. For me the 25th December isn’t a huge celebration and we don’t have children, so we’ll just have a nice meal and enjoy a day off together.”
Rachel (Conference Centre)
“My Mom’s birthday is on Christmas Day so we have cause for double celebration (and double cake!). For as long as I can remember we’ve celebrated Christmas during the day and then in the evening we have a birthday party.”
Rachel (Farm Shop Tills)
“After Christmas dinner people come and go, but there are always those who stay to help with the washing up. Once that’s all done we play train dominoes. This year, we’re heading over to my sisters to celebrate with her and her boys. She always has stacks of board games, which she insists we play – she is always the most competitive one!”
“As a child I remember having to open our presents one by one. The suspense as a kid was huge, and I remember having to wait patiently for my turn to come round again. Mum also used to peel the sellotape off the wrapping carefully and keep the paper to be reused (very eco-friendly!). Now we’re older, we go to the pub on Christmas morning, then come home for our dinner and open our presents after that. I wouldn’t have had the patience as a child to wait that long with all the excitement.”
Helena (Orange Kitchen)
“I grew up in France, and it is traditional there to open your presents and celebrate with a meal on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Christmas Day in our house tends to be a hangover day now. My parents still live over there, and I’m looking forward to flying back to see them in a few weeks.”