Christmas etiquette guide

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What is Christmas?

Interestingly, the history of celebrations during the time we think of as Christmas, goes back far further than the birth of Jesus. Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year which occurs in the Northern hemisphere between 20th and 23rd December, has been celebrated for millennia. The origin meaning of the word ‘Yule’ goes back to the Northern European word “Jul” the term used to describe the period of time surrounding Christmas, whilst in ancient Rome it was celebrated as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or “the birthday of the unconquered Sun”. Of course, these days the main celebration during winter is a religious one, with Christmas marking Jesus’ birth in a cattle shed in Bethlehem. We have Christmas parties and dinners, gift-giving and get-togethers. Now that the season is upon us, take a look at our Christmas etiquette guide to make sure you don’t make any festive faux pas.

What to wear to a Christmas party

Christmas is the perfect time to be draped in sumptuous fabrics, such as velvet, wool and cashmere. And you can simply never wear enough of them. Not to mention a little added sparkle—think sequins and glitter at the very least. With Christmas, more is certainly more.

The history of Christmas

354 AD 25: December is made the official birthday of Jesus 11th Century: The word Christmas is first recorded (previously it was called Yule) 16th Century: In Central Europe Christmas trees are decorated with candles, wax ornaments and gingerbread. In England people eat mince pies at Christmas (originally, they actually were made with mince)

17th Century: European Christmas trees are decorated with tinsel

1752: New Year’s Day is moved from 25 March to 1 January

1800 Christmas trees are first recorded in England

1843 The first Christmas card is designed by John Horsley

1847 Christmas crackers are made for the first time by a confectioner named Tom Smith

1848 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are shown in a newspaper picture with a Christmas tree. As a result, Christmas trees become common in England

1860 The ‘bang’ is added to Christmas crackers

1862 Cartoonist Thomas Nast creates our modern image of Santa Claus

1871 Christmas Day is made a bank holiday 1882 Christmas tree lights are invented

Christmas food and drink

Christmas time is often associated with delicious food. When invited to a Christmas party, it’s always polite to see if you can contribute by bringing your own food (ideally a festive family recipe). If you’re holding the festive feast yourself, make sure that you have taken note of your guest’s dietary requirements. If they have very particular tastes and offer to bring their own food – absolutely let them! You’ll thank us come Christmas morning.

  • Last Christmas saw the UK consuming approximately 10 million turkeys.
  • It is estimated £22bn is spent by UK households at Christmas, with the average household spending £796. Of this, £159 is thought to go on food and drink and the rest on gifts (£596), cards, trees and decorations (£41).
  • Turkey is a relative newcomer to the Yuletide table, it was a luxury right up until the 1950’s when they became more widely available.
  • In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), Bob Cratchit had a goose before Scrooge bought him a turkey.
  • Prior to the turkey tradition, Christmas fare included roast swan, pheasants and peacocks. A special treat was a roast boar’s head decorated with holly and fruit.
  • A survey has revealed on average, British women do not attempt their first Christmas lunch until the age of 34. 28% of British men admit that their partner’s Christmas feast is better than their mother’s.
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Topics: christmas