Love Actually turns ten this year and it’s quickly become a holiday classic, not only in the UK but also in the US. In honour of this anniversary, we thought we’d celebrate by sharing with you some British holiday traditions exemplified through this classic film.
2. What’s worse than the total agony of being in love? No crackers on Christmas!
We know, Sam, we know. But you cannot have a British Christmas without Christmas crackers The crackers spill out with small toys, paper crowns, and jokes to be shared at the dinner table—maybe even with Claudia Schiffer if you’re lucky.
3. Bring some breathmints!
Mistletoe: if you’ve ever snogged under this seasonal plant, you can thank the Brits! The Ancient Druids believed mistletoe represented good luck and health in the New Year. In later traditions, couples who met under the mistletoe would have to pick a berry from the sprig before kissing. When the berries were all gone, no one could kiss under the mistletoe which really put a damper on the walking kissing booths among us! Probably wouldn’t have stopped Mia though…
4. All we want for Christmas is…FOOOOOOOOD! (and maybe some sherry.)
You might have visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads, but we Brits are only thinking of Christmas turkey, mince pies and flaming Christmas pudding. We didn’t forget the treats for Santa though! On Christmas Eve in Britain, it’s common for families to leave Santa a mince pie (though he may want to cut back on the calories) and a glass of sherry*. On the other hand, Rudolph should be left a carrot of two!
*Don’t leave too much sherry though, we don’t want Santa to have a SUI or “sledding under the influence!” Plus he still hasn’t told us if he prefers sherry to milk yet.
5. Are you singing carols? PLEEEEEEASE!
While we doubt the Prime Minister will be going door-to-door singing “Good King Winceslas” this holiday season, we do know that the practice of carolling (or wassailing) originated in the UK. Carolling traces its roots back to the Middle Ages, when singing beggars wandered the streets looking for money or food. Today, carollers often raise money for charity, or are searching the block for the girl they fancy. One of the two.
6. Was there more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus? Come see a Pantomime and find out!
Anything’s possible at a British pantomime. A Christmas tradition dating back to 1800s, pantos are based on fairytales, and feature uniquely dressed actors and actresses (along with the odd celebrity here or there). Pantos have entertained crowds for decades through comedy, song, dance, and even a little audience participation.
Like the Christmas pageant in the film, they’re known for being a little…peculiar. Nonetheless, seeing a panto is certainly an activity not to be missed—we especially recommend any and all featuring these kids.
7. This is so much more than a bag. It’s…Boxing Day.
Did you get a festive bottle of mouthwash this Christmas when you were hoping for some jewelry? Never fear, we have Boxing Day! Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and a lot like a bizarro Black Friday. Brits have the day after Christmas off from work and typically spend it returning those snowman socks and buying a TV instead. Stores hold massive sales to lure in shoppers (and people returning unwanted gifts). Unfortunately, that sweater your grandma knitted you still isn’t returnable.
In 2009, the BBC reported 12 million Brits showed up to hit the sales, and millions more now shop online. No figures exist on how many of those shoppers nearly strangled their gift baggers.
8. BONUS! To us, this is perfect:
Our friends at the British Consulate-General in New York City are also huge fans of Love Actually and made a parody of the film for their holiday greeting last year. Check it out!