History UsefulNotes / AVeryBritishChristmas

13th Sep '17 7:18:29 AM WaterBlap
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* '''Brussels sprouts:''' A bitterly divisive foodstuff. These are small green vegetables, essentially miniscule cabbages, somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility. People either love or really, really, really hate them. This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people ''genetically lack the ability to taste'': generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.[[note]]"Largely," because even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them--and it is very easy to overcook sprouts, especially if you're boiling them, where they can be reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. Sautéing the sprouts usually works better for those who actually enjoy them; there was a vogue for sprouts [[BaconAddiction sautéed with bacon fat]] around 2010ish.[[/note]] Whilst other veg does get served at Christmas, these are a particular requirement unique to the festive season. Why they are named after the capital of Belgium, meanwhile, remains a mystery. %% Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable here. Previous Tropers have had this problem. %%

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* '''Brussels sprouts:''' A bitterly divisive foodstuff. These are small green vegetables, essentially miniscule cabbages, somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility. People either love or really, really, really hate them. This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people ''genetically lack the ability to taste'': generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.[[note]]"Largely," because even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them--and it is very easy to overcook sprouts, especially if you're boiling them, where they can be reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. Sautéing the sprouts usually works better for those who actually enjoy them; there was a vogue for sprouts [[BaconAddiction sautéed with bacon fat]] fat around 2010ish.[[/note]] Whilst other veg does get served at Christmas, these are a particular requirement unique to the festive season. Why they are named after the capital of Belgium, meanwhile, remains a mystery. %% Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable here. Previous Tropers have had this problem. %%
6th Sep '17 8:17:50 AM GojiBiscuits
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* ''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 a few months after everything's been put to bed. 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.

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* ''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 a few months after everything's been the rest of the year, having escaped being put to bed.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.
6th Sep '17 8:16:46 AM GojiBiscuits
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6th Sep '17 8:14:47 AM GojiBiscuits
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[[folder:Twelfth Night]]
While advertising would make you think that Christmas never even happened, Christmas keeps on going after Boxing Day, for another 10 days of Festivity. Everything comes to a close on '''Twelfth Night''', the conclusion of the twelfth day after Christmas Day, which falls on the fifth or sixth of January depending on tradition. While everything normally comes down on this day, there's still a few traditions to follow before the decorations get put back into the loft for eleven months.
* ''King Cake'': Because it wouldn't be a Christmas event without food and drink, there's a special confection made just for the day. Very similar to Christmas cake, the King Cake is lavishly decorated and often has little trinkets hidden inside each slice, normally a set of pre-decimal coins rolled out just for such an occasion. It is worth noting that this custom is not exclusive to Britain; a wide variety of King Cake variations exist across Europe and into the Americas, each with a slightly different style.
* ''Wassailing'': A tradition carried over from the Scandinavian Yule, groups of people travel around with a 'Wassail Bowl' filled with a drink of some sort, normally wine or another alcoholic beverage. The group of people knock on doors and invite people to take from the Wassail Bowl, in return for giving the Wassailers some small gifts. Wassailers may also visit apple orchards, where they bless the trees with mulled cider, so that the next harvest will be plentiful.
* ''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 a few months after everything's been put to bed. 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.
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6th Sep '17 7:50:17 AM GojiBiscuits
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* As a mainstay of Office Christmas parties, Christmas markets and homes alike, '''Mulled Wine''' is prepared by the gallon. Consisting of red wine mixed with numerous spices and sometimes raisins, the resulting drink is heated gently and then served by the glass. To some, this is the favoured drink of carollers, who often carry a glass or two around with them so the freezing nighttime temperatures don't seem to be so bad.
6th Sep '17 7:42:29 AM GojiBiscuits
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* As an alternative for people who prefer sponge to fruit cake, there's also '''Yule Log''': basically a giant chocolate Swiss roll topped with very thick, very rich chocolate ganache, with icing sugar as a smattering of 'snow'. Can be served with ice-cream to make extra certain of dental devastation. The 'Yule Log' derives from a gigantic log that was the mainstay of the fire in the main hearth for all twelve days of Christmas. The modern Yule Log does not burn nearly so well and lasts only about 2 hours, but is very much more edible.

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* As an alternative for people who prefer sponge to fruit cake, there's also the '''Yule Log''': basically a giant chocolate Swiss roll with vanilla filling, topped with very thick, very rich chocolate ganache, and with icing sugar as a smattering of 'snow'. Can be served with ice-cream to make extra certain of dental devastation. The 'Yule Log' derives Yule Log takes its name from the Yuletide custom of keeping a gigantic log that was the mainstay of the fire burning in the main hearth for all twelve days of Christmas. Christmas, as a way to bless the house it is in with good luck. The modern edible Yule Log does not burn nearly so well and lasts only about 2 hours, but is very much more edible.appreciable among the table guests.
2nd Sep '17 7:46:46 AM GrammarNavi
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* ''PoliceCameraAction'' -- a VerySpecialEpisode '''may''' air in the lead-up week to Christmas on Creator/{{ITV}}1 or ITV4 (in any case, mainly a {{Rerun}}, then on Christmas Eve expect an episode on ITV4 which will be a re-run from either the 1998, 2000 or 2002 series and a 2007 series episode later on, and on Christmas Day they will usually show it either two or three times a day: with it being shown as early as 6:00am or 7:00am on ITV4, then repeated in the afternoon, and an hour-long one (8:00pm to 9:00pm or 9:00pm to 10:00pm) which is a VerySpecialEpisode.

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* ''PoliceCameraAction'' ''Series/PoliceCameraAction'' -- a VerySpecialEpisode '''may''' air in the lead-up week to Christmas on Creator/{{ITV}}1 or ITV4 (in any case, mainly a {{Rerun}}, then on Christmas Eve expect an episode on ITV4 which will be a re-run from either the 1998, 2000 or 2002 series and a 2007 series episode later on, and on Christmas Day they will usually show it either two or three times a day: with it being shown as early as 6:00am or 7:00am on ITV4, then repeated in the afternoon, and an hour-long one (8:00pm to 9:00pm or 9:00pm to 10:00pm) which is a VerySpecialEpisode.
8th Aug '17 2:24:24 PM Jake
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* Already bastions of misery and despair, the soap operas of terrestrial television (''Series/EastEnders'' and ''Series/CoronationStreet'' to name two) celebrate Christmas by sharply increasing the [[TwistedChristmas sheer amount of suffering]] that they inflict on their characters. Entire families gather around the tele-box to see who dies, who breaks up with who and which Christmas party is blown up by a freak lawnmower accident.

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* Already bastions of misery and despair, the soap operas of terrestrial television (''Series/EastEnders'' and ''Series/CoronationStreet'' to name two) celebrate Christmas by sharply increasing the [[TwistedChristmas sheer amount of suffering]] that they inflict on their characters. Entire families gather around the tele-box to see who dies, who breaks up with who and which Christmas party is blown up by a freak lawnmower accident. [[SoaplandChristmas This is now a trope of its own]].
8th Aug '17 9:16:35 AM Piterpicher
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* '''Brussels sprouts:''' A bitterly divisive foodstuff. These are small green vegetables, essentially miniscule cabbages, somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or really, really, really hate]] them. This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people ''genetically lack the ability to taste'': generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.[[note]]"Largely," because even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them--and it is very easy to overcook sprouts, especially if you're boiling them, where they can be reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. Sautéing the sprouts usually works better for those who actually enjoy them; there was a vogue for sprouts [[BaconAddiction sautéed with bacon fat]] around 2010ish.[[/note]] Whilst other veg does get served at Christmas, these are a particular requirement unique to the festive season. Why they are named after the capital of Belgium, meanwhile, remains a mystery. %% Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable here. Previous Tropers have had this problem. %%

to:

* '''Brussels sprouts:''' A bitterly divisive foodstuff. These are small green vegetables, essentially miniscule cabbages, somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or really, really, really hate]] hate them. This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people ''genetically lack the ability to taste'': generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.[[note]]"Largely," because even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them--and it is very easy to overcook sprouts, especially if you're boiling them, where they can be reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. Sautéing the sprouts usually works better for those who actually enjoy them; there was a vogue for sprouts [[BaconAddiction sautéed with bacon fat]] around 2010ish.[[/note]] Whilst other veg does get served at Christmas, these are a particular requirement unique to the festive season. Why they are named after the capital of Belgium, meanwhile, remains a mystery. %% Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable here. Previous Tropers have had this problem. %%



'''Christmas cake[[note]]([[ChristmasCake no, not this kind]])[[/note]]:''' A dark fruitcake covered thickly in marzipan and then white icing (frosting), often whipped into a stiff snowscape. For this 'royal icing' tends to be used, which includes egg whites so it sets more crunchily and solidly than regular icing (anywhere on a scale from 'fetch the hacksaw' to 'industrial laser required'), and into which small decorative Santas, reindeer, robins, holly leaves, 'Happy Christmas' signs, snowmen etc. may be cemented. These will be of varying antiquity and wildly out of scale, hence scenes of Santa being menaced by a ten-foot robin and the like. Christmas cake is [[LoveItOrHateIt widely considered inedible yet equally widely considered delicious]], much like its puddingy sibling: most slices have to be forcibly and messily dismembered for the benefit of that one person who wants marzipan but hates icing, the one who wants icing but hates marzipan, the one who wants both but hates the cake, etc. As with Christmas pudding, best made to a murkily specific ancestral recipe -- the only constants seem to involve the whole family stirring it, and the thing needing to be stuck in a low oven for anywhere up to about 48 hours. Simply called fruitcake in the US, much the same tradition except nobody cooks it and everybody hates it.

to:

'''Christmas cake[[note]]([[ChristmasCake no, not this kind]])[[/note]]:''' A dark fruitcake covered thickly in marzipan and then white icing (frosting), often whipped into a stiff snowscape. For this 'royal icing' tends to be used, which includes egg whites so it sets more crunchily and solidly than regular icing (anywhere on a scale from 'fetch the hacksaw' to 'industrial laser required'), and into which small decorative Santas, reindeer, robins, holly leaves, 'Happy Christmas' signs, snowmen etc. may be cemented. These will be of varying antiquity and wildly out of scale, hence scenes of Santa being menaced by a ten-foot robin and the like. Christmas cake is [[LoveItOrHateIt widely considered inedible yet equally widely considered delicious]], delicious, much like its puddingy sibling: most slices have to be forcibly and messily dismembered for the benefit of that one person who wants marzipan but hates icing, the one who wants icing but hates marzipan, the one who wants both but hates the cake, etc. As with Christmas pudding, best made to a murkily specific ancestral recipe -- the only constants seem to involve the whole family stirring it, and the thing needing to be stuck in a low oven for anywhere up to about 48 hours. Simply called fruitcake in the US, much the same tradition except nobody cooks it and everybody hates it.
28th Jun '17 9:56:12 AM GojiBiscuits
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Christmas puds can be made at home, but are usually bought beforehand -- expensive London department store [[BritishBusinesses Harrods]]' puddings are considered the best pre-made. If homemade, it will have been done so ''either'' according to a centuries-old recipe passed down from mother to daughter, ''or'', more usually, borrowed from a recently purchased Christmas-themed cookbook by some celebrated TV chef. Traditionally the mix is, um, mixed over a month before the eating date, on 'Stir-Up Sunday', the last Sunday before the season of Advent -- with everyone in the family taking a turn at stirring the pudding, starting with the oldest member and finishing with the youngest, and each person making a private wish. The truly dedicated, however, make their Christmas pudding (and occasionally the cake; see below) around this time the ''year before'' it is due to be eaten, to give it a full twelvemonth to 'mature'. Whether this improves the flavour is always strongly debated. In the weeks/months between making and serving, the pudding must be 'fed' (i.e. lovingly doused in alcohol) periodically. As Christmas puddings are thus effectively pickled from within, they just never go off; since they also tend to be kind of dense and huge, it's an unofficial tradition to have a good deal left in a tin for most of the rest of the year.
* Can be served with cream or ice-cream, but most 'traditionally' 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.

to:

Christmas puds can be made at home, but are usually bought beforehand -- expensive London department store [[BritishBusinesses Harrods]]' puddings are considered the best pre-made. If homemade, it will have been done so ''either'' according to a centuries-old recipe passed down from mother to daughter, ''or'', more usually, borrowed from a recently purchased Christmas-themed cookbook by some celebrated TV chef. Traditionally the mix is, um, mixed over a month before the eating date, on 'Stir-Up Sunday', the last Sunday before the season of Advent -- with everyone in the family taking a turn at stirring the pudding, starting with the oldest member and finishing with the youngest, and each person making a private wish. The truly dedicated, however, make their Christmas pudding (and occasionally the cake; see below) around this time the ''year before'' it is due to be eaten, to give it a full twelvemonth to 'mature'. Whether this improves the flavour is always strongly debated. In the weeks/months between making and serving, the pudding must be 'fed' (i.e. lovingly doused in alcohol) periodically. As Christmas puddings are thus effectively pickled from within, they just never go off; since they also tend to be kind of dense and huge, it's an unofficial tradition to have a good deal left in a tin for most of the rest of the year.
year, to either be periodically munched on now and then or to be forgotten in some little-used corner of the kitchen cupboards.
** 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.
* Can 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.



* Another odd and occasional visitor to the dinner table, usually served for either the kids or for people who aren't keen on the Cake/Pudding, is Baked Alaska: a marvellous concoction of caramel, thick and gloopy Italian meringue and ice cream. Like a Christmas pudding, the Baked Alaska is given a dosage of brandy and set alight via a blowtorch just before serving, so that the meringue on the outside turns a delicious light brown colour. Those who are adept at producing the dessert are able to create a perfect synergy between the crunchy meringue exterior and still-frozen ice cream within. Those who are less experienced often turn the previously proud looking confection into little more than a molten mess of flaming alcohol and sugary mush.[[/folder]]

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* Another odd and occasional visitor to the dinner table, usually served for either the kids or for people who aren't keen on the Cake/Pudding, is Baked Alaska: '''Baked Alaska''': a marvellous concoction of caramel, thick and gloopy Italian meringue and ice cream. Like a Christmas pudding, the Baked Alaska is given a (much smaller) dosage of brandy and set alight via a blowtorch just before serving, so that the meringue on the outside turns a delicious light brown colour. Those who are adept at producing the dessert are able to create a perfect synergy between the crunchy meringue exterior and still-frozen ice cream within. Those who are less experienced often turn the previously proud looking confection into little more than a molten mess of flaming alcohol and sugary mush.[[/folder]]



The main meal is usually the time for pulling '''Christmas crackers''': if you've read ''Literature/HarryPotter'', you'll be familiar with these, although the Potter characters receive much more spectacular versions. Basically a cardboard tube with two twisted ends requiring two people to pull, one from either end, until it breaks in half and a little firework (little more than a popcap) goes bang and whoever gets the longest part of the tube gets to keep what's inside. You might consider this a mini tug-of-war and that there's a winner, but nobody wins when it comes to these. Contents of the cracker typically are made up of a colourful but delicate as hell crepe-paper 'crown', some cheap plastic bit of junk and a piece of paper with a very poor joke written in [[BlindIdiotTranslation Chinglish]]. These jokes are almost a trope of their own in that they are ''expected'' to be bad -- often by way of a bad pun. To find a genuinely funny joke in a cracker would be a grave disappointment and may even ruin someone's Christmas. It is [[BlatantLies a legal requirement under the Christmas Act 1972]] that each person dining at the table wear the paper hat, despite the fact that they look ridiculous. These are meant to represent the crowns worn by the Three Kings, or the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at His crucifixion. Or something. If they have drunk the right amount it won't actually matter.

to:

The main meal is usually the time for pulling '''Christmas crackers''': if you've read ''Literature/HarryPotter'', you'll be familiar with these, although the Potter characters receive much more spectacular versions. Basically a cardboard tube with two twisted ends requiring two people to pull, one from either end, until it breaks in half and a little firework (little more than a popcap) goes bang and whoever gets the longest part of the tube gets to keep what's inside. You might consider this a mini tug-of-war and that there's a winner, but nobody wins when it comes to these. Given that those who have stronger grips often end up with multiple 'wins', you can expect plenty of cracker swapping to take place until everyone has a complete set of items from inside them. Contents of the cracker typically are made up of a colourful but delicate as hell crepe-paper 'crown', some cheap plastic bit of junk and a piece of paper with a very poor joke written in [[BlindIdiotTranslation Chinglish]]. These jokes are almost a trope of their own in that they are ''expected'' to be bad -- often by way of a bad pun. To find a genuinely funny joke in a cracker would be a grave disappointment and may even ruin someone's Christmas. It is [[BlatantLies a legal requirement under the Christmas Act 1972]] that each person dining at the table wear the paper hat, despite the fact that they look ridiculous. These are meant to represent the crowns worn by the Three Kings, or the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at His crucifixion. Or something. If they have drunk the right amount it won't actually matter. Fancy crackers more often contain things such as bottle openers, key rings, metal dice and other things that no child would really find any use from, much to the amusement of people at the table.
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