Many Christmas customs that are popular in the United States and Canada originated in the United Kingdom. These customs include sending Christmas cards and hanging a sprig of mistletoe in a room or hallway. According to tradition, a person may kiss anyone standing under the mistletoe. On Christmas Eve, children hang up stockings for Father Christmas, the British version of Santa Claus, to fill with presents. On the afternoon of Christmas Day, most British families watch their monarch give a special Christmas message on television. In England, dinner on Christmas Day features roast turkey and dessert of mince pie and plum pudding.
During the days before Christmas, children or groups of adults go from house to house singing Christmas carols. Children ask for money for themselves, but adults usually ask for money for charity. This tradition began many years ago, when visitors sang carols in return for a drink from the wassail bowl. The bowl contained hot punch made from ale, apples, eggs, sugar, and spices. The word wassail comes from Was haile, an old Saxon greeting that means Be healthy. Today, English people at large parties still drink punch, but it is usually made from wine and other alcoholic beverages, fruit, and spices.
Australia and New Zealand
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemborg
United States and Canada
Recipes from Around the World