The Christmas season comes earlier to England than to the US

In England, it creeps in as early as November 5th
after Guy Fawkes Night

In the US, the season officially kicks off after Thanksgiving
(end of November)

Although England is ethnically diverse
(especially in and around London)
there is no politically correct 
'Happy Holidays' or 'Seasons Greetings' to be heard

See the English robin in lights?

'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Christmas',
are not meant to be religiously assuming
Just a general 'wishing you a wonderful holiday season'

As Christianity is the official religion here,
there is no pretending it isn't
(although they are welcoming of other religions)

We were surprised by how many Jewish neighbors lived in our area
when we saw 'menorahs' in many home windows
We soon learned these 'welcome lights' are actually a new, fast-growing tradition
originating from Nordic countries

English Christmas traditions include

browsing craft fairs and Christmas markets,
visiting Santa in one of his many grottos
& attending a local 'panto' production

Family-friendly pantos take a classic story
and add gender swapping, songs, humor for adults & kids,
and loads of audience participation
photo: ATG tickets

Another activity includes stopping by a local National Trust property
to view it in period holiday decor

Edwardian Christmas at Polesden Lacey (National Trust)

Although sending Christmas cards is an old tradition here,
family photo cards are just starting to catch on

The cutie-pie English robin is closely associated with Christmas
possibly because postmen in Victorian times
wore red uniforms and delivered cards
Postmen were nicknamed 'Robin'

Post boxes have been red since 1884

Also, the robin is one feathered friend still seen on the island this time of year :)

Santa will find small mince pies, not cookies, 
left for him by the fireplace

Mince pies

Christmas meals will be enjoyed at local pubs and in homes

The menu is often goose, ham, or turkey with stuffing
In fact, turkey first appeared in England on wealthy tables in the 16th century
Reportedly Henry VIII was the first monarch 
to eat the exotic American bird for Christmas

Today, brussels sprouts and parsnips also may be served
followed by Christmas Pudding
('pudding' is a general term for baked desserts)

Mini Christmas Puddings
photo credit: Tesco

Don't come to England looking for 'Figgy Pudding' 
as it has been replaced by Christmas Pudding

Figgy Pudding's key ingredient was figs and was offered to carolers 
as a thank you for singing to the wealthy community

'Oh Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding' 
is a line from the carol 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas', 
originally sung in the 16th century in England's West Country

And although they don't have yummy eggnog here,
mulled wine is a delicious alternative
- warm, spiced red wine -

Another lovely tradition after the Christmas meal
is Christmas Crackers

Two people pull each end to open the cracker to see what is inside
- a paper crown, small toy, confetti, or a joke -

Wishing you a wonderful holiday with your loved ones
May you stay warm and cozy in heart and home :)

- all photos are my own, unless otherwise noted -

Sources: Wikipedia 1, 2; Arundel Wetlands Centre