Christmas Traditions Brits Living In The U.S. Will Miss

02.12.16
3 minute read
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Come December and usually frosty temperatures, the U.K. becomes filled with festive displays of holiday spirit, not to mention a lot of half-off sales.

Christmas time in the U.K. may not be celebrated dramatically differently than the United States. However, there are many subtle differences. From explosive Christmas crackers to watching the Queen’s Speech after an elaborate Christmas Day lunch.

We asked British expats to tell us what they miss now they’ve upped sticks and moved Stateside for the holidays. Here are some of their top answers.


Hold up one sec: Sending money home over Christmas? Paying for gifts Stateside?

Don't use your bank. They charge a lot and they use a big hidden mark-up on the exchange rate, which means you lose a great big extra chunk of dosh. It's worse than a bad †panto joke.

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crackers

Christmas Crackers

Virtually unheard of in this U.S., these beloved (and explosive) bon-bons are traditionally served at a Christmas midday meal.

Wrapped in cardboard and tied together with two ribbons, the cracker is one of the most exciting if peculiar of traditions.

The aftermath does not just leave behind a tiny, generally useless gift, but also a piece of paper with a cheesy joke or fortune, and bright cardboard hat that is worn for the remainder of the meal.


The Queen’s Speech

It is one of the U.K.’s longest standing modern Christmas traditions: every year dating back to 1932, families have gathered after their midday feast for a Royal Christmas Message.

Since 1952 the message has been read by Elizabeth II. Her Majesty reflects on the year’s events, both personally and in the world.

The earnest speech is often followed by a teatime in the afternoon, alongside Christmas Cake -- (often a glorified fruitcake generously smothered with marzipan).


Christmas Pudding

Love it or hate it, pud is a traditional holiday food with roots stretching back to Medieval England.

If you don't like plum, fear not. The dessert usually does not actually contain the fruit; rather, the term has been used since the Victorian Days when plum was simply another word for raisins.

Nowadays the pudding is made out of several fruits and brandy, held together by egg or raw beef fat, and aged for upwards of a year. It’s often doused in brandy and set on fire as it’s brought into the room.


Boxing Day

While Americans are already heading back to work on the day after Christmas, Brits are taking a second day off.

No, the name does not mark a fighting match, but rather an old tradition in which people filled church alms boxes with donations for the poor to be distributed on December 26.


† Pantomimes

In the United States, most people associate the word “pantomime” with miming, or silently gesturing a role.

But in the United Kingdom, a pantomime is a musical comedy designed for families and is a staple of the Christmas calendar.

Nowadays the plays encompass everything from classical fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin to quirky comedic renditions such as “Scrooge and the Seven Dwarfs.”


bank

Sending money home? Don't let the Grinch steal Christmas

Banks and brokers use a terrible exchange rate to take a chunk out of your hard-earned cash when you move it internationally - on top of any fees they actually tell you about.

It's hardly in the Christmas spirit. That's why TransferWise only ever uses the real exchange rate - the one you see on Google or Reuters, with no hidden mark-up.

You receive more dollars or pounds and you know exactly what you're paying. And we only charge a small 1% fee. And that's no Christmas bonus - that's all day, every day of the year.

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TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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