Christmas Traditions in the UK vs. the US

Dec 23, 2017 3:00:00 PM


Sometimes I forget how completely, and amazingly might I add, different England is from America. We may speak the same language (sort of), but there’s also so much that we don’t have in common. For example, while the holiday rush in the last two months of the year in the US is focused on Thanksgiving and Christmas, in the England it’s focused around Guy Fawkes Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas.

If you can imagine celebrating the US Independence day in November, then you have successfully imagined Guy Fawkes Day. On November 5th every year, and the days leading up to, a slew of fireworks are set off all day long all around England in celebration of Guy Fawkes day. It’s a strange experience as an American where I’m used to watching fireworks on a hot July day in sandals, a pair of shorts and some ice tea, whereas here I was in my full winter ensemble with a hot cocoa in hand.

Remembrance in heavily celebrated in England, and you can pretty much catch a parade in any part of any city you’re staying in. If you plan on attending one of these parades, you may want to buy a poppy flower pin, which can be purchases practically anywhere in England during this time, as everyone at the parade will be wearing one and will take it off at the end to usually place it on some type of symbolic monument.

As for Christmas, Americans traditionally like to catch the Nutcracker on stage every year. Here in England, going to a Pantomime show with family and friends is a must! A Pantomime is a musical comedy performed on stage during the holiday season. If you love that famous British humor, then you would love these shows! And don’t forget about the incredible Christmas markets, which can be found on nearly every British High Street.


Although there are a few differences, in many ways the UK celebrates the end of the year holidays the same as we do in the states. Each town centre is lined with Christmas lights and Santa Claus’, a very familiar site for an American. And, as usual, gifts are exchanged and food is to be had.

If you were worried that you won’t have anyone to celebrate the holidays with as an international student here in the UK, you’d be very wrong. My friends even hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for me, just to make me feel at home. I had so many Christmas dinners to go to that I almost didn’t have time to make them all. In my experience, I found that most English people won’t let someone spend the holidays alone and will take you in as one of their own!

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