The Chrismas Archives

The Great British Christmas!

Old Christmas card

A look at the little known customs and traditions of Christmas around the British Isles. This is the site for finding out how Britain spends Christmas, with information you will not find anywhere else on the Net!

In preparation at the moment and being uploaded as each part is ready, this feature will grow with more facts, pics, links and everything you would expect of a really great site.


To get your curiosity going about Christmas all around the mainland, the Islands and Highlands of the British Isles, here are a few tidbits:

In the NORTH of ENGLAND up to the middle of the 20th century, it was common to find a dish of 'Mugga' on the Christmas Eve table. This is a kind of wheaten porridge, sweetened with honey, which originally eaten before the main meal, and also throughout Advent, which is the month leading up to Christmas. It was a remnant left over from Viking times. But it turns up in similar forms all over Europe. In POLAND for example they have 'Kutia' which is a cereal dish made from kibbled wheat, fermented overnight in milk, sweetened with honey and spiced.

For more on this, see CUSTOMS OF ENGLAND.

...and to celebrate your Christmas in true English style, see HOW TO HAVE A REAL OLDE ENGLISHE CHRISTMASSE.

In SCOTLAND they have 'Athol Brose' which is made from oats, it also has whisky in it and is served as a drink! But I have come across several old recipes which are just an alcohol-free gruel. Such dishes were a very practical stomach liner after a long fast and before the feasting began.


...and to celebrate your Christmas in true Scottish style, see HOW TO HAVE A TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS.

In SHETLAND they play the game of 'Ba' which is a kind of street football-cum-rugby. The present custom began in the middle of the 19th century, but in medieval times street football was a traditional Christmas Day game especially for apprentices. Banned by Cromwell in the 17th century, the apprentices in Canterbury rioted in protest.

In WALES there are many customs which are remnants of early Christian and even earlier Roman occupation. The 'Calennig' is an apple on three twig legs, stuck with almonds or cloves or other spiky things such as thorns. It has a sprig of evergreen at the top, and is offered to householders by carolling children, in return for a small gift of cakes, money or, more often, sweets.

For more, see CUSTOMS OF WALES.

...and to celebrate your Christmas in true Welsh style, see HOW TO HAVE A TRADITIONAL WELSH CHRISTMAS.

In Roman times, a gift such as this was given at New Year in honour of the goddess Strenia, to bestow good fortune.

Both Northern Ireland and EIREAN will be represented here, too, as we expand these pages.


...and to celebrate your Christmas in true Irish style, see HOW TO HAVE A TRADITIONAL IRISH CHRISTMAS.