The magical lights, the festive music out on the streets, the decoration, the busy bees shopping, parties, stories of Christmas and Christmas Carols. Christmas has to be one of my most favorite times of the year in London.
As many of my blog visitors are not UK based it is pretty cool to be shedding some light into the Christmas build up here and what it means to me. I have been in the fortunate position to live in other countries and to have experienced many festivals so I can also compare it for others who haven’t experienced Christmas. The build up to Christmas is by far the longest build up to any festival I have experienced and Christmas related advertising usually starts at around the middle of October.
Christmas is the main holiday in the UK and not only does it mark the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ but being so close to the end of the year it is a double celebration. Everything is geared to the big end of the year in December. It is probably the only time of the year the UK really shuts down for a holiday.
Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26th December) are a national holiday. Almost everything is shut on these two days, including shops and most transport. As such the feel on the streets on these two days is very quiet indeed, with most people celebrating indoors with family and friends. The day before Christmas is Christmas Eve during which gifts and cards are exchanged (although this can be done before Christmas Eve too) but the peak of gift giving is at Christmas Eve when boxed and wrapped gifts are placed under the Christmas tree. Children who have been good all year round receive their gifts through Santa Claus who enters every house in style via the chimney!
When I was at University, the build up to Christmas meant the end of term that was fast approaching, with lots and lots of deadlines and work to be done. It also meant a hell of a lot of parties, I was in so many clubs and societies that I was at a party almost every other day in the last two/three weeks of term. When I joined the office world briefly it became more about the office Christmas party as the big finale of the office social year, where most of the office gossip for the rest of the year was created 😉 And now that I tutor freelance and live with families in Yorkshire, I experience the build up to Christmas in a whole new way altogether, from within the English family itself, and I really enjoy this experience as every family does it differently and has it’s own little quirks. There are also so many traditions attached to Christmas that it would be hard for me to mention them all here. So maybe I can do that slowly every Christmas.
Personally for me, I love the romantic feel of the Christmas lights in London and despite the cold I find it really nice to just walk around observing life, the decorated trees and general buzz, not to mention the odd bit of live music and carol singing on the streets! And the picture above is one I took while I was walking around in central London on Christmas Eve last year in 2011. Enjoy and a very Merry Christmas to you 🙂