History UsefulNotes / AVeryBritishChristmas

1st Feb '18 7:13:06 PM karstovich2
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* '''Roast potatoes:''' Every dish needs a starchy side; Britain opted for roast potatoes -- which, depending on who's making them, will either be (a) crunchy on the outside, fluffy 'n' soft on the inside, browned-to-perfection little delights, or (b) rock-solid beasts which are somehow burned and raw at the same time.[[note]]A classic sign that the spuds were cooked at too high a temperature. [[OvenLogic Higher temperatures do not necessarily reduce cooking time]]; you need the ''right'' temperature to ensure the heat penetrates the whole potato before the outside starts getting ''too'' crispy. If you're having this problem, put the potatoes in at a lower temperature for longer and see what happens. You might also be using the wrong kind of potato; you cannot use potatoes with a "waxy" texture (that is, potatoes with a low starch content) for roasting. Floury potatoes, like the Maris Piper and King Edward, are best.[[/note]] There is no inbetween. Tradition holds that the best are cooked in duck or goose fat to make them super crispy.

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* '''Roast potatoes:''' Every dish needs a starchy side; Britain opted for roast potatoes -- which, depending on who's making them, will either be (a) crunchy on the outside, fluffy 'n' soft on the inside, browned-to-perfection little delights, or (b) rock-solid beasts which are somehow burned and raw at the same time.[[note]]A classic sign that the spuds were cooked at too high a temperature. [[OvenLogic Higher temperatures do not necessarily reduce cooking time]]; you need the ''right'' temperature to ensure the heat penetrates the whole potato before the outside starts getting ''too'' crispy. If you're having this problem, put the potatoes in at a lower temperature for longer and see what happens. You might also be using the wrong kind of potato; you cannot use potatoes with a "waxy" texture (that is, potatoes with a low starch content) for roasting. Floury potatoes, like the Maris Piper and King Edward, Edward (in Britain) or the Russet (in North America), are best.[[/note]] There is no inbetween. Tradition holds that the best are cooked in duck or goose fat to make them super crispy.
16th Jan '18 12:57:23 PM DarcyFoster
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Curiously a few songs are routinely wheeled out that, although not lyrically 'festive', apparently still count due to their originally charting highly around Christmastime and giving off a warm fuzzy feeling -- e.g. Music/FrankieGoesToHollywood's "The Power of Love"[[note]](the band's label produced a Nativity-themed music video to capitalise on its December release in 1984, which contributed to this; a mimsy-pop cover version from a TV advert (see above) also topped the charts in December 2012)[[/note]], or East 17's "Stay Another Day", which beat Mariah to the hallowed Christmas Number One Single slot in 1994. The race for this chart position (and the often ultra-cheesy pretenders thereto) is very much a UK-specific phenomenon, as fairly accurately depicted in the film ''Film/LoveActually''. With the exception of 2004 and 2014 anniversary re-recordings of Band Aid's 1984 mega-seller ''Do They Know It's Christmas?'', the last actual Christmas-''themed'' #1 to date was Music/CliffRichard's "Saviour's Day" back in 1990; after that, songs as varied as the ''Series/NoelsHouseParty''-derived novelty "Mr. Blobby" (1993), Music/MichaelJackson's dour GreenAesop "Earth Song" (1995), three consecutive Music/SpiceGirls songs (1996-8), children's TV character ''WesternAnimation/BobTheBuilder'''s "Can We Fix It?" (2000) and Gary Jules' SofterAndSlowerCover of "Mad World" from the soundtrack of ''Film/DonnieDarko'' (2003) have taken the crown.

From 2005, you could nearly always expect the coveted Christmas Number One spot to go to whoever won ''Series/TheXFactor'' that year. This led to a backlash in 2009 when an online campaign propelled Music/RageAgainstTheMachine's "Killing in the Name" to the top instead, much to the displeasure of X Factor supremo [[TheMeanBrit Simon Cowell]]. Numerous similar campaigns attempted to hijack the position back for "real music" in the following years, though with less success: only two non-X Factor #1s appeared between 2009 and 2015, both charity-related singles: Gareth Malone & The Military Wives' "Wherever You Are" (2011) and a remake of The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother" (2012). The 2015 battle for the number one might prove that the talent show's glory days are history, as that year's winner's single only finished at #12 and the top spot turned out to be a two-horse race for the position between Music/JustinBieber's "Love Yourself" and the NHS Choir's unlikely Music/SimonAndGarfunkel[=/=]Music/{{Coldplay}} charity mashup, "A Bridge Over You"; the latter would eventually claim the top spot -- [[Heartwarming/{{Music}} Bieber himself even thought that the choir deserved the #1 more than he did]]. The next year, the first non-X Factor related ("Killing in the Name" notwithstanding), non-charity Christmas #1 since 2003, Music/CleanBandit's "Rockabye", was propelled by incredibly high streaming figures, while several other bookies' favorites bombed hard due to minimal streams.

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Curiously a few songs are routinely wheeled out that, although not lyrically 'festive', apparently still count due to their originally charting highly around Christmastime and giving off a warm fuzzy feeling -- e.g. Music/FrankieGoesToHollywood's "The Power of Love"[[note]](the band's label produced a Nativity-themed music video to capitalise on its December release in 1984, which contributed to this; a mimsy-pop cover version from a TV advert (see above) also topped the charts in December 2012)[[/note]], 2012, although not at Christmas)[[/note]], or East 17's "Stay Another Day", Day"[[note]](the fuzzy Christmas feeling around this song goes when you realise it's about Tony Mortimer's brother, who committed suicide)[[/note]], which beat Mariah to the hallowed Christmas Number One Single slot in 1994. The race for this chart position (and the often ultra-cheesy pretenders thereto) is very much a UK-specific phenomenon, as fairly accurately depicted in the film ''Film/LoveActually''. With the exception of the 2004 and 2014 anniversary re-recordings re-recording of Band Aid's 1984 mega-seller ''Do They Know It's Christmas?'', the last actual Christmas-''themed'' #1 to date was Music/CliffRichard's "Saviour's Day" back in 1990; after that, songs as varied as the ''Series/NoelsHouseParty''-derived novelty "Mr. Blobby" (1993), Music/MichaelJackson's dour GreenAesop "Earth Song" (1995), three consecutive Music/SpiceGirls songs (1996-8), Music/{{Westlife}} covering Music/{{Abba}}'s "I Have A Dream" (1999), children's TV character ''WesternAnimation/BobTheBuilder'''s "Can We Fix It?" (2000) and Gary Jules' SofterAndSlowerCover of "Mad World" from the soundtrack of ''Film/DonnieDarko'' (2003) have taken the crown.

From 2005, you could nearly always expect the coveted Christmas Number One spot to go to whoever won ''Series/TheXFactor'' that year. This led to a backlash in 2009 when an online campaign propelled Music/RageAgainstTheMachine's "Killing in the Name" to the top instead, much to the displeasure of X Factor supremo [[TheMeanBrit Simon Cowell]]. Numerous similar campaigns attempted to hijack the position back for "real music" in the following years, though with less success: only two non-X Factor #1s appeared between 2009 and 2015, both charity-related singles: Gareth Malone & The Military Wives' "Wherever You Are" (2011) and a remake of The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother" (2012). The 2015 battle for the number one might prove that the talent show's glory days are history, as that year's winner's single only finished at #12 and the top spot turned out to be a two-horse race for the position between Music/JustinBieber's "Love Yourself" and the NHS Choir's unlikely Music/SimonAndGarfunkel[=/=]Music/{{Coldplay}} charity mashup, "A Bridge Over You"; the latter would eventually claim the top spot -- [[Heartwarming/{{Music}} Bieber himself even thought that the choir deserved the #1 more than he did]]. The next year, the first non-X Factor related ("Killing in the Name" notwithstanding), non-charity Christmas #1 since 2003, Music/CleanBandit's "Rockabye", was propelled by incredibly high streaming figures, while several other bookies' favorites bombed hard due to minimal streams.
streams. 2017 saw another non-charity Christmas [=No1=] in the form of Music/EdSheeran's "Perfect".
2nd Jan '18 8:00:26 PM Jgorgon
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** Creator/MichaelCaine appears to be a rather incongruous festive favourite (making him all the more perfect in ''Film/TheMuppetChristmasCarol''). Usually a toss up between the aforementioned ''Great Escape'', ''Film/{{Zulu}}'' and ''Film/TheItalianJob1969''. It's also traditional for every adult male to quote all the iconic lines, and then discuss how iconic those lines are, and then rank them in order of how iconic they are, and then argue over the order.

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** Creator/MichaelCaine appears to be a rather incongruous festive favourite (making him all the more perfect in ''Film/TheMuppetChristmasCarol''). Usually a toss up between the aforementioned ''Great Escape'', ''Film/{{Zulu}}'' and ''Film/TheItalianJob1969''. It's also traditional for every adult male to quote all the iconic lines, and then discuss how iconic those lines are, and then rank them in order of how iconic they are, and then argue over the order.
15th Dec '17 6:08:55 AM LentilSandEater
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* ''More shopping frenzy!:'' Increasing numbers take advantage of the heavily lowered shopping prices everywhere known as the Boxing Day Sales. This name is the more accurate description of what have traditionally (but no longer accurately) been referred to as the January Sales -- they've gradually crept earlier over recent years, so that December 26th's evening news will nowadays be fronted by features on the hordes of wild-eyed bargain-seizers who were queueing at 7:30am. Some sales finish within a few days and you can expect the adverts for these to crop up round about mid-evening on Christmas Day, or even Christmas Eve.
** They're getting so early now that the US tradition of Black Friday has been adopted!
*** The same thing is happening to Canadian Boxing Day!

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* ''More shopping frenzy!:'' Increasing numbers take advantage of the heavily lowered shopping prices everywhere known as the Boxing Day Sales. This name is the more accurate description of what have traditionally (but no longer accurately) been referred to as the January Sales -- they've gradually crept earlier over recent years, so that December 26th's evening news will nowadays be fronted by features on the hordes of wild-eyed bargain-seizers who were queueing at 7:30am. Some sales finish within a few days and you can expect the adverts for these to crop up round about mid-evening on Christmas Day, or even Christmas Eve.
**
Eve. They're getting so early now that the US tradition of Black Friday has been adopted!
***
adopted! The same thing is happening to Canadian Boxing Day!
15th Dec '17 5:58:18 AM LentilSandEater
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** As mentioned above, plenty of stories arise around the time Advent begins of people's shop-bought puddings going 'off' long before Christmas. This is a surefire way of telling when the specific brand didn't use enough Alcohol to preserve the pudding, and instead opted to cheap out and use heaps of artificial flavourings.
* The pudding can be served with cream or ice-cream, but is most 'traditionally' served with '''brandy butter''' (also known as hard sauce), a dietician's nightmare made from brandy (surprisingly), butter (ditto) and sugar (plot twist), of similar consistency to ice-cream but not as cold. One of those peculiarly festive foodstuffs that only seems to manifest in our universe in the run-up to Christmas, although leftover pots can be glimpsed as late as mid-January before they scurry off to whatever dimension they spend the rest of the year hibernating in. An alternative is rum sauce (sweet white sauce with rum). Combine cream, rum sauce and brandy butter for the ultimate cholesterol nightmare and maximum deliciousness.

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**
As mentioned above, plenty of stories arise around the time Advent begins of people's shop-bought puddings going 'off' long before Christmas. This is a surefire way of telling when the specific brand didn't use enough Alcohol to preserve the pudding, and instead opted to cheap out and use heaps of artificial flavourings.
*
flavourings.

The pudding can be served with cream or ice-cream, but is most 'traditionally' served with '''brandy butter''' (also known as hard sauce), a dietician's nightmare made from brandy (surprisingly), butter (ditto) and sugar (plot twist), of similar consistency to ice-cream but not as cold. One of those peculiarly festive foodstuffs that only seems to manifest in our universe in the run-up to Christmas, although leftover pots can be glimpsed as late as mid-January before they scurry off to whatever dimension they spend the rest of the year hibernating in. An alternative is rum sauce (sweet white sauce with rum). Combine cream, rum sauce and brandy butter for the ultimate cholesterol nightmare and maximum deliciousness.
9th Dec '17 1:57:52 PM BoredMe
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The most important thing to remember, especially for American tropers, is that Christmas is the United Kingdom's premier holiday and day of celebration[[note]](though in UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}} it was once second to Hogmanay)[[/note]]. The UK does not celebrate a designated harvest UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay, and, between not having been occupied by any foreign power since 1066 and having a [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar revolution]] without any really truly clear dates for celebration that wouldn't also be divisive, it means Christmas in the United Kingdom is far more of a dominant calendar event and holiday than it is in the United States and elsewhere. Indeed, inhabitants of these sceptered isles have celebrated the winter solstice since before the birth of Christ, the [[UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire Roman]], [[HornyVikings Viking]], and [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfNormandy Norman]] invasions. So, though Brits don't usually consider it, beneath all the tinsel, Brussels sprouts and unwanted socks at least two millennia of tradition and community are reflected in the average Christmas, with old and new customs -- both original and appropriated -- stacked on top of each other. This veritable smorgasbord of practices forms the nucleus of the [[TitleDrop very British affair]] described below.

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The most important thing to remember, especially for American tropers, is that Christmas is the United Kingdom's premier holiday and day of celebration[[note]](though in UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}} it was once second to Hogmanay)[[/note]].Hogmanay). Also, it's pretty much the premier holiday in the USA as well, unless you can think of another holiday which effectively lasts for a month and which completely overshadows another major holiday the month before.So...maybe not so weird for Americans..[[/note]]. The UK does not celebrate a designated harvest UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay, and, between not having been occupied by any foreign power since 1066 and having a [[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar revolution]] without any really truly clear dates for celebration that wouldn't also be divisive, it means Christmas in the United Kingdom is far more of a dominant calendar event and holiday than it is in the United States and elsewhere. Indeed, inhabitants of these sceptered isles have celebrated the winter solstice since before the birth of Christ, the [[UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire Roman]], [[HornyVikings Viking]], and [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfNormandy Norman]] invasions. So, though Brits don't usually consider it, beneath all the tinsel, Brussels sprouts and unwanted socks at least two millennia of tradition and community are reflected in the average Christmas, with old and new customs -- both original and appropriated -- stacked on top of each other. This veritable smorgasbord of practices forms the nucleus of the [[TitleDrop very British affair]] described below.
30th Oct '17 4:42:55 AM GojiBiscuits
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* ''Advertising:'' Boxing Day (and to an extent Christmas Day itself) inevitably sees an instantaneous mass changeover in TV advertising -- for weeks beforehand every advert has been all about feasting, drinking and merrymaking, chocolates, perfumes, spirits... then on an instant there is an abrupt and complete switch to nothing but ads for cut-price furniture ('Double Discounted Sofas' ahoy), reduced weekend getaways and celebrity diet plans. Happy New Year.

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* ''Advertising:'' Boxing Day (and to an extent Christmas Day itself) inevitably sees an instantaneous mass changeover in TV advertising -- for weeks beforehand every advert has been all about feasting, drinking and merrymaking, chocolates, perfumes, spirits... then on an instant there is an abrupt and complete switch to nothing but ads for cut-price furniture ('Double Discounted Sofas' ahoy), reduced weekend getaways and celebrity diet plans. Following these adverts is the return of Park (see the Advertising section), starting their plans to ensnare yet more people insecure about their finances for next Christmas. Happy New Year.



* ''Superstitions'': A commonly-held superstition is that while the Christmas decorations must not come down ''before'' Twelfth Night, lest bad luck befall the house for an entire year, they ''must'' come down on Twelfth Night, or the same will happen. If any decorations are left up or even present after Twelfth Night, they must remain on view until the next Twelfth Night begins. Of course, not many people follow this tradition any more, but it's not unusual to see a rogue bauble or strands of tinsel lying around for the rest of the year, having escaped being put back into the loft somehow. Eagle-eyed people may spot houses that still have exterior decorations and Christmas lights up as late as ''June'', in some cases, the residents simply having forgotten (or being too lazy) to take them down.

to:

* ''Superstitions'': A commonly-held superstition is that while the Christmas decorations must not come down ''before'' Twelfth Night, lest bad luck befall the house for an entire year, they ''must'' come down on Twelfth Night, or the same will happen. If any decorations are left up or even present after Twelfth Night, they must remain on view until the next Twelfth Night begins. Of course, not many people follow this tradition any more, but it's not unusual to see a rogue bauble or strands of tinsel lying around for the rest of the year, having somehow escaped being put back into the loft somehow. loft. Eagle-eyed people may spot houses that still have exterior decorations and Christmas lights up as late as ''June'', in some cases, the residents simply having forgotten (or being too lazy) to take them down.
15th Oct '17 3:21:11 PM nombretomado
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* Another traditional Christmas drink, at least in the south-east is the "snowball", which consists of a creamy liqueur from UsefulNotes/TheNetherlands named Advocaat (roughly the [[UsefulNotes/ThePond Rightpondian version]] of eggnog[[note]](standard American eggnog is ''supposed'' to include whiskey or brandy -- both for the purposes of intoxication and to reduce the risks of drinking something containing raw egg; yes, eggnog is supposed to contain raw egg: see ''Series/GoodEats'' episode 913 -- though this is often forgotten. Blame Prohibition.) [[/note]]) mixed with lemonade to dilute it, followed by further dilution with freshly crushed ice, plus a dusting of icing sugar to achieve that 'snowy effect'. This cocktail is fondly enjoyed by both adults and children, seeing how at Christmas the drinking age seems to drop to about 5 so long as you're in the house and out of sight.[[note]](In point of fact, [[BritishLaws the legal drinking age in the United Kingdom]] ''[[BritishLaws is]]'' [[BritishLaws 5]], if the child is at home and under parental supervision or equivalent. [[Creator/MichaelCaine Not many]] [[BeamMeUpScotty people know that]]. Or care for that matter.)[[/note]] Despite this it's rather strong, so it's considered wise not to mix it with anything else and to take a break every two glasses. (During this break, we suggest a glass of Buck's Fizz, as it has fruit in it so it's not ''proper'' alcohol.)

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* Another traditional Christmas drink, at least in the south-east is the "snowball", which consists of a creamy liqueur from UsefulNotes/TheNetherlands named Advocaat (roughly the [[UsefulNotes/ThePond Rightpondian version]] of eggnog[[note]](standard American eggnog is ''supposed'' to include whiskey or brandy -- both for the purposes of intoxication and to reduce the risks of drinking something containing raw egg; yes, eggnog is supposed to contain raw egg: see ''Series/GoodEats'' episode 913 -- though this is often forgotten. Blame Prohibition.) [[/note]]) mixed with lemonade to dilute it, followed by further dilution with freshly crushed ice, plus a dusting of icing sugar to achieve that 'snowy effect'. This cocktail is fondly enjoyed by both adults and children, seeing how at Christmas the drinking age seems to drop to about 5 so long as you're in the house and out of sight.[[note]](In point of fact, [[BritishLaws [[UsefulNotes/BritishLaws the legal drinking age in the United Kingdom]] ''[[BritishLaws ''[[UsefulNotes/BritishLaws is]]'' [[BritishLaws [[UsefulNotes/BritishLaws 5]], if the child is at home and under parental supervision or equivalent. [[Creator/MichaelCaine Not many]] [[BeamMeUpScotty people know that]]. Or care for that matter.)[[/note]] Despite this it's rather strong, so it's considered wise not to mix it with anything else and to take a break every two glasses. (During this break, we suggest a glass of Buck's Fizz, as it has fruit in it so it's not ''proper'' alcohol.)
14th Oct '17 7:42:19 AM GojiBiscuits
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'''Caroling.''' Only mentioned in the case that it's ''very uncommon'' to see real, live ChristmasCarolers. No matter where you are in the UK it's bloody cold by mid-December, but not quite cold enough to get the warming, blanketing effect you get with snow. Caroling for charity donations may be organised by some churches, and that's because it's a huge effort to wander around in the dark with light drizzle running down your neck, getting about 30 pence per house if they answer the door at all.

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'''Caroling.''' Only mentioned in the case that it's ''very uncommon'' to see real, live ChristmasCarolers. No matter where you are in the UK it's bloody cold by mid-December, but not quite always cold enough to get the warming, blanketing effect you get with snow. Caroling for charity donations may be organised by some churches, and that's because it's a huge effort to wander around in the dark with light drizzle running down your neck, getting about 30 pence per house if they answer the door at all.



The tradition originates in Germany, and is not unknown in the US, where it is observed by Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and fans of German chocolate. A related tradition is a reusable cloth with pouches labelled for each day into which one can put one's own choice of treat or marker.

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The tradition originates As with a lot of modern Christmas traditions, Advent Calendars originated in Germany, and the custom is not unknown in the US, where it is observed by Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and fans of German chocolate. A related tradition is a reusable cloth calendar with pouches labelled for each day into which one can put one's own choice of treat or marker.
14th Oct '17 7:37:42 AM GojiBiscuits
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'''Christmas music starts popping up everywhere'''. The populace is mercilessly prodded into feeling goodwill to all men by the endless ChristmasSongs drummed into their heads for weeks in advance of the big day. Unlike in the USA, contemporary musical artists rarely release seasonal albums of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"-esque standards, however. The Music/FrankSinatra, Music/BingCrosby and Music/NatKingCole-era crooners can still be heard, but the UK has its own considerable canon of mostly home-grown Christmas pop songs, generally dating to a period from [[TheSeventies the 1970s]] until about 1985 when every major act seemed to produce one (or collaborated on [[CharityMotivationSong one for charity, like Band Aid]]), which seem as ingrained in popular consciousness as the more traditional songs and carols. Indeed, several acts are now almost solely remembered for their hardy-perennial festive hit, irrespective of how successful they once were: a sort of musical {{Flanderization}}. So, whereas the US has a Christmas firmly stuck in the 1950s, the British enjoy one which is welded firmly to the late '70s if music is anything to go by.[[note]](Frankly, the British '50s were quite unlike the American '50s, what with having to rebuild the country after [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the War]].)[[/note]]

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'''Christmas music starts popping up everywhere'''. The populace is mercilessly prodded into feeling goodwill to all men by the endless ChristmasSongs drummed into their heads for weeks in advance of the big day. Unlike in the USA, contemporary musical artists rarely release seasonal albums of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"-esque standards, however. The Music/FrankSinatra, Music/BingCrosby and Music/NatKingCole-era crooners can still be heard, do make up a significant part of it, but the UK has its own considerable canon of mostly home-grown Christmas pop songs, generally dating to a period from [[TheSeventies the 1970s]] until about 1985 when every major act seemed to produce one (or collaborated on [[CharityMotivationSong one for charity, like Band Aid]]), which seem as ingrained in popular consciousness as the more traditional songs and carols. Indeed, several acts are now almost solely remembered for their hardy-perennial festive hit, irrespective of how successful they once were: a sort of musical {{Flanderization}}. So, whereas the US has a Christmas firmly stuck in the 1950s, the British enjoy one which is welded firmly to the late '70s if music is anything to go by.[[note]](Frankly, the British '50s were quite unlike the American '50s, what with having to rebuild the country after [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the War]].)[[/note]]
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