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christmas in Britain ⑦

Boxing Day
In Britain, Boxing Day is usually celebrated on the 26th of December. However, strictly speaking, Boxing Day is the first weekday after Christmas.

Like Christmas Day, Boxing Day is a public holiday. When Boxing Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday the following Monday is the public holiday.

Why is 26th December called ‘Boxing Day’?
Traditionally on the 26th was the day to open Christmas box to share the contents with the poor.

History of Boxing Day
To protect ships
During the Age of Exploration, when great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, A Christmas Box was used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port. It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box. It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage.
If the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage.
The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

To help the poor
An ‘Alms Box’**was placed in every church on Christmas Day into which worshipper placed a gift for the poor of the parish***. These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas, which is why that day became known as Boxing Day.

A present for the workers
Many poorly paid workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with Christmas Boxes.
During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would ‘box up’**** their left over food, or sometimes gifts and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.
The tradition of giving money to workers still continues today. It is customary for householders to give small gifts or monetary tips to regular visiting trades people (the milkman, dustman, coalman, paper boy etc.) and in some workplaces, for employers to give a Christmas bonus to employees.

Schools across the country gather together gifts to be put in Christmas Boxes that are sent to poorer countries.


Twelfth Night (5th January) – Decorations
Why is it bad luck to leave the decorations up after twelfth Night?
Long ago it was thought that leaving the decorations up would cause a disaster. People believed that tree-spirits lived in the greenery (holly, ivy etc.) they decorated their houses with. The greenery was brought into the house to provide a safe haven for the tree-spirits during the harsh midwinter days. Once this period was over it was necessary to return the greenery back outside to release the tree-spirits into the countryside once again. Failure to do this would mean that vegetation would not be able to start growing again (spring would not return), leading to an agricultural disaster.
Today people still feel uneasy about leaving the Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night. Despite decorations now being made of foil or paper, and even though the tree-spirits are long forgotten, the superstition still survives.

Did you know?
Until the 19th century, people would keep decorations of holly, ivy, box, yew, and mistletoe up until February 2nd, Candlemas Day*****, the end of the Christmas season, 40 days after the birth of Jesus.

The Tree Wise Men are not included in the nativity scene until January 6th, three King’s day. The nativity scene is traditionally not taken down until 2nd February, Candlemas.
In the reign of Victoria decorations came down on Twelfth Night and generally were burnt.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas
Twelfth Day is the last day of Christmas season. In the Church of England, the Christmas season begins at evening Prayer on Christmas Eve.
Twelfth Day, as its name tells us, is the 6th of January. This day is the feast of Epiphany. The term means ‘to show’ or ‘to make known’ or ‘to reveal’. In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing ‘reveal’ Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
In some Orthodox churches, Epiphany commemorates Jesus baptism, with the visit of the Magi linked to Christmas.

The Season of Epiphany
For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from 6th January until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter.
In some western traditions, the last Sunday of Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.

The Roman Catholic tradition observes Epiphany as a single day.














多くのプロテスタント教会の慣習として公現祭は1月6日から復活祭につながる四句節が始まる季節の聖灰の水曜日(Ash Wednesday)まで延ばしています。西キリスト教の慣習では公現祭の最後の日曜日がキリスト教の変容の日曜日として祝います。


7回にわたってChristmas in Britainを掲載しました。 楽しんでいただけたでしょうか?

Merry Christmas!



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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-25 09:37

Christmas in Britain ⑥

Father christmas
Who is Father Christmas?
Father Christmas is the version of Santa Claus. He is an old jolly man with white hair, a beard and a moustache. He is dressed in a red suit* outlined in white. He and his elves make all the toys for Christmas in his home in the North Pole.
****The red coat is new Image of Father Christmas prior to about 1880 most pictured showed him with a green coat. The red became the most popular colour after the US introduction by Coca Cola during the 1930s.

History of Father Christmas in England
He was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring. He was known as ‘Sir Christmas’, ‘Old Father Christmas’ or ‘Old Winter.’

In this earliest form, father Christmas was not the bringer of gifts for small children, nor did he come down the chimney. He simply wandered around from home to home, knocking on doors and feasting with families before moving on to the next house.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) is based on Father Christmas. He is described as a large man with a red beard and fur-lined green robe. Images of Father Christmas dressed in red started appearing on Christmas cards in the late Victorian times.


Who is Santa Claus?
Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nicolas. St. Nicolas, or Sinter Klaas in Dutch, was a very shy man and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children’s stockings.
When the Dutch introduced Sinter Klaas to the Americans they called him Santa Claus.







to be continued.......



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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-24 21:38

Christmas in Britain ⑤

Christmas Trees
Most houses in Britain will have a tree of some sort or other which they will decorate and will place the presents under. The traditional Christmas tree is a fir tree but now-a-days more people buy artificial trees.

The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from Germany and put it in Windsor Castle.
The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children, and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.

During the Victorian times, Christmas trees were decorated with candles to remind children of the stars in the sky at the time of the birth of Jesus. Using candles was, of course, a great fire hazard. Today candles have been replaced by little coloured electric lights.

Christmas trees were also decorated with sweets and cakes hung with ribbon. In 1880, Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments which became very popular.

Today, Christmas trees are decorated with tinsel, lights and small ornaments which hang from the branches.

Why Christmas trees are decorated?
Long time ago people used to decorate trees outside each winter. When the trees had lost their leaves, it was felt that the spirits living in the trees had abandon them. This made people very worried because they believed that without tree-spirits the trees would not grow leaves ever again. To encourage the tree-spirits to return they dressed the trees with strips of coloured cloth. They hoped by making the trees look beautiful, the spirits would return to live in the trees ready for spring.


クリスマスツリーは1841年に英国において人気になりました。 その当時ヴィクトリア女王の夫である、ドイツ人のアルバート王子はクリスマスツリーをドイツからウインザー城に持ってきたのです。ロイヤルカップルが彼らの子供たちと一緒にクリスマスツリーの周りにたっている挿絵が新聞に載り、クリスマスツリーに飾り付けをするのがファッショナブルになりました。





to be continued......



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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-22 13:03

christmas in Britain ④

Christmas Crackers
They are very popular and accompany meals over the Christmas period, especially on Christmas Day. A Christmas Cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends,
A person pulls on each end of the cracker and when the cracker breaks, a small chemical strip goes ''pop''and the contents fall out.
It traditionally contains a paper crown, a small gift and a joke written on a slip of paper.

Who invented the Christmas Crackers?
They were invented by Thomas Smith in 1846. During a visit to Paris he came across the bon-bon, a sugar almond wrapped in tissue paper. Thomas decided to try selling similarly wrapped sweets in the lead up to Christmas in England. His bon-bons sold well at Christmas but not at other times of the year.

In the early 1850s Thomas came up with the idea of including a motto with the sweet. As many of his bon-bons were bought by men to give to women, many of the mottos were simple love poems.

In about 1860, Thomas added the banger, two strips of chemically impregnated paper that made a loud noise on being pulled apart. At first these novelties were called 'cosaques', but they soon became known as ‘crackers’.

Unfortunately poor Thomas, his ‘cracker’ idea was copied by other manufactures and so he decided to replace the sweet with a surprise gift.

When Thomas died his two sons took over the business. The paper hat was added to the cracker the early 1900s and by the end of the 1930s the love poems had been replaced by jokes or limericks.

Why to the English wear king's paper crowns on Christmas day?
We wear paper hats on special occasions like Christmas Day and birthday parties. The tradition of wearing hats at parties goes back to the Roman Saturnalia celebrations (celebrated around 25th December) when the participants also wear hats.

The idea of wearing a paper crown may have originated from the Twelfth Night celebrations, where a King or Queen was appointed to look over the proceedings.

The paper crown hats we wear today are found inside the Christmas crackers. They are very traditional items to have at Christmas.


クリスマスの時期、特にクリスマスの日には特に人気のあるものです。 クリスマスクラッカーとは、カラフルな色の筒状のもので、両端がねじられています。 一人の人が片方をひっぱり、もう一人のひとが反対側を引っ張ります。







紙の王冠をかぶるという慣習は12日節前夜祭に由来しているかもしれないとのことです。 王もしくは女王がその祝祭の際を見守るために任命されました。



to be continued......


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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-12 23:12

Christmas in Britain ③

A Traditional English Christmas Dinner

It is the main Christmas meal is traditionally eaten at mid-day or early afternoon on Christmas Day in England, and also in the rest of Britain.
A traditional English and British Christmas dinner includes roast turkey or goose, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, rich nutty stuffing, tiny sausages wrapped in bacon (pigs in a blanket) and lashings of hot gravy.


The Christmas pudding

The Christmas pudding is a brown pudding with raisins, nuts and cherries. It is similar to fruitcake, except that pudding is steamed and fruitcake is baked.
Traditionally a silver coin (six pence) was hidden inside the Christmas pudding. The silver coin brought good fortune to whomever was lucky enough to find it when the pudding was cut.


The flaming Christmas Pudding
Brandy is often poured over the pudding, which is then set a light as it is carried to the table. The lights are turned off so people can see the flames.
Christmas Pudding is served with custard or brandy sauce.





to be continued.....


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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-09 20:09

Christmas in Britain ②

History Of British Christmas Customs and Traditions
Many of their Christmas customs began long before Jesus was born. They came from earlier festivals which had nothing to do with the Christian church. Long ago people had mid-winter festivals when the days were the shortest and the sunlight was the weakest. They believed that their ceremonies would give the sun back its power. The Romans, for example, held the festival of Saturnalia around 25th December. They decorated their homes with evergreens to remind them of Saturn, their harvest god, to return the following spring.

Some of these customs and traditions were adopted by early Christians as part of their celebrations of the birthday of Jesus Christ.

In Victorian times some new ideas such as Father Christmas, Christmas cards and crackers were added to the celebrations.

Christmas Eve
Christmas traditionally started at sunset on 24th December.
In old time, people considered this to be Christmas Evening (Christmas Eve for short.)

Christmas Day
It is the favourite day for children. They wake up early in the morning to find their stockings have been filled by Father Christmas and excitedly unwrap the presents before breakfast!

Why do we give each other presents on Christmas Day?
Giving gifts is thought to be related to the gift that the wise men (the Magi) brought to Jesus.

Traditional Activities on Christmas Day in Britain

Church Services

Christmas dinner and Christmas tea

The Queen's Speech




クリスマスは伝統的に12月24日の日没に始まります。 昔、人はこれをクリスマス イヴニング(短くしてクリスマス・イヴ)と考えました。



礼  拝  

To be continued.......



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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-08 13:21




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by connection-eigo | 2012-12-02 21:55