Are you looking to try something new this Christmas? We Brits (me, Charles Dickens, Charles II, you know) pride ourselves on how we do Christmas. So here are three fabulous British Christmas traditions to try.
- Their full name is “mincemeat pies” because yes they were made with shredded beef suet or venison or tongue —but nowadays not so much. Just dried fruit. They are fantastic. And best heated up, served with a strong cup of tea or mulled wine or port.
- Mince pies can be made mini—baked in muffin tins or mini pie pans, decorated with pastry star shapes—so festive as well as delicious.
- Mary Berry’s Mince Pies call for ready-made mincemeat and has a citrus flavour that makes them special.
- Paul Hollywood’s Mince Pies adds tangerine and apple to store bought mincemeat. Delish.
- Before you bake your mince pies, you can learn all about The Mythical History of Mincemeat Pies, including the time they were (unofficially) banned in England for being too idolatrous (thankfully, King Charles II brought them back).
- Mince pies also make beautiful gifts. Bettys are best, or try Red Truck Bakery in the US. Bettys also sells an assortment of British treats that can be mailed overseas.
- Add Christmas Pudding to your table this year: a dark, sticky, dense, cake-like dessert that is worth the wait (more about that later). Also known as “figgy pudding” or “plum pudding,” it’s an English dish dating back to the Middle Ages.
- Christmas Pudding is made well in advance, usually on Stir Up Sunday, the Sunday before Advent (but don’t worry: you’re not too late. You can still make one now).
- Children can help measure the ingredients, put them in a bowl, and stir them up (children often make a Christmas wish while they stir). Then the pudding is pressed into a pudding basin and steamed for about seven hours. It’s then wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day, when you reheat the pudding by steaming it again for about an hour. The pudding is turned out onto a platter and traditionally topped with a holly leaf.
- Often the whole thing is then set on fire. Well not completely. But brandy is poured over it.
- The Royal Family shared some adorable photos of Prince George stirring up Christmas puddings for charity.
- For a classic recipe, try this from The Royal Kitchen.
- You can serve with cream, or white sauce, or brandy butter—or all of those.
- As a lovely gift, send a Classic Christmas Pudding from Bettys.
- The Cream Tea could be a lovely Christmas tradition to start with your family. It dates back to 1662. Delicious sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, and scones complimented with jams and clotted cream, accompanied, of course, by the perfect cup of tea.
- See my blog, Cream Tea, for what to wear, how to hold the cup (pinkies up!), all the supplies, and how to put a Christmas twist on this classic.
Bonus: Christmas Traditions from Around the World
In case you want more inspiration, here are some fantastic global Christmas traditions that you could make your own:
- In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, and everyone settles in with their new books, cozy pajamas, and warm blankets. What a lovely tradition to start with your family. Browse my top book picks for inspiration.
- Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, is widely celebrated in Spain and Latin America and France. It’s a holiday 12 days after Christmas when people remember the arrival of the Wise Men. Special cakes are made with small treats hidden inside. More about Three Kings Day in The Jesus Storybook Bible Christmas Collection.
- Norway celebrates “Little Christmas Eve” on December 23. You gather with your immediate family and do something fun like play games or make crafts. Browse my top family fun picks for your own Little Christmas Eve.
- In Poland on Christmas Eve families share oplatek, an unleavened wafer with imprints of Christmas motifs. Each person breaks off a piece as they wish each other Merry Christmas.
- In Mexico, members of the Church put on Pastorelas (Shepherd’s Plays) to retell the Christmas story. We have a free script you can download to put on your own Christmas play.
- Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal on Christmas. A family’s youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, and once it’s seen, the feast can begin. Children can look for the first star to appear on Christmas Eve, and celebrate by reading Song of the Stars.
If you try any of these Christmas traditions and treats, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram.