Christmas is just around the corner! Interesting and strange traditions of the main winter holiday in Britain and the USA

Merry Christmas! The entire western world is celebrating Christmas tomorrow. And with this holiday in Britain and the United States are associated with many interesting, curious and sometimes even strange traditions. We will talk about them today.

Kiss under the mistletoe

Mistletoe wreaths are a traditional decoration in British homes at Christmas. This evergreen plant is a symbol of fertility and life. And it is believed that a kiss under the mistletoe brings health and helps to conceive a child.

Kiss under the mistletoe – kiss under the mistletoe

Therefore, old people hung mistletoe branches all over the house for young people to kiss. So to speak, they pushed to create married couples.

The mistletoe kiss is one of Britain’s most famous Christmas traditions.

Think of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for example. The scene of the kiss between Harry and Zhou is timed to coincide with Christmas and the mistletoe.

Interestingly, tradition has nothing to do with Christmas itself and Christianity in general. The druids considered the mistletoe to be a magical plant. They were the ones who thought she was helping people and animals to have children.

And the holiday associated with the mistletoe, the Druids spent in early January, cutting the branch of the mistletoe from the oak and sacrificing to the spirits of two white bulls. The mistletoe cut on this day was believed to have amazing healing properties.

The kiss under the mistletoe actually originates from Old Norse myths. The sun god Balder, son of Odin, was killed by an arrow from a mistletoe. In one version of the myth, Balder’s mother, Frigg, cried over the body of her son for three days and the goddess of death Hel had mercy and brought him back to life. In joy, Frigga kissed everyone who passed the mistletoe branches.

Therefore, in this Christmas tradition, we see a bizarre mixture of Viking and Druid myths, which many mistakenly consider to be true Christian.

Elf on the shelf

A very interesting and young tradition, which began only in 2005, but has already become widespread.

After Thanksgiving, which is celebrated in the United States at the end of November, the office of Santa Claus sends an elf scout to each family, who must report to the main grandfather how the children in the family behave.

At night, when no one sees, he flies to the North Pole with a report, and in the morning he comes back and lands somewhere in a new place.

With an elf, a rhyme usually appears:

There’s only one rule that you have to follow,
so I will come back and be here tomorrow:
Please do not touch me. My magic might go,
and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know


There is only one rule to follow
and then I’ll be back here tomorrow:
Please don’t touch me. My magic can disappear
and Santa won’t hear what I saw and know.

In such a simple way, parents are trying to cope with the intolerance of children in anticipation of the holiday. After all, if they behave badly, the elf will definitely report this and they will not receive gifts.

And if you touch the elf, then he will lose all his magic and will not be able to fly to the North Pole. If suddenly this happened and the elf is still hooked, then you must write a letter to Santa with an apology.

Nice and useful tradition and at the same time just a brilliant promo for the book. Yes, the whole tradition was created to promote the book “Elf on the Shelf”. This Christmas story was published in 2005. But in 15 years, over 13 million elves have been sold in the United States, which now fly even better than the book itself.

In general, it is quite understandable why parents are so actively supporting this young tradition. Because a spoiled child can be reassured by the phrase “Elf is watching you”, without scandals and hysterics. But at the same time, the expectation of the holiday is felt by the whole family.

Tumbleweed tree

In the southern states of the United States, snow on New Year’s holidays is quite rare, and trees do not grow at all. But this is not a reason to give up the New Year’s mood when you want to dress up a Christmas tree and make a snowman.

In the state of New Mexico, this was approached with fantasy. They take a tumbleweed, of which a lot grows there, and make a Christmas tree and snowmen out of it. It gets pretty weird.

Tumbleweed snowman – tumbleweed snowman

In 2020, even a snowman put on a mask.

This tradition was first launched in the city of Albuquerque in 1995. Then the grass snowman was shown in all the media and the prank became a tradition, which was picked up by other states. Tumbleweed trees and snowmen are also made in Arizona, Texas, Idaho, California and Nevada.

But according to tradition, the snowman from Albuquerque is the largest – at least 4 meters in height and 3 meters in diameter at the base. To prevent it from being blown away by the wind, it is reinforced with reinforcement and then painted white.

Milk and biscuits for Santa

A very old Christmas tradition that is common in all English-speaking countries.

It is believed that when Santa Claus brings gifts at night, he needs to leave a glass of milk, cookies and carrots so that he will refresh himself and continue giving gifts to good children.

And this tradition again comes from Scandinavian myths. According to legend, on the eve of Yale, Odin rides out in his chariot drawn by an eight-legged stallion named Sleipnir. Children left treats for the horse, in the hope that he would stop to eat, and Odin would leave gifts for them in gratitude.

However, now different sweets are left in different countries. In the USA it is milk and biscuits or biscuit, in Australia and Britain – meat pie and a glass of sherry, in Sweden – a bowl of rice porridge, and in France – a glass of wine for Santa himself and a couple of carrots for a deer.

But the Irish food tradition is another ingenious piece of marketing. Because the Santa over there is expecting a pint of Guinness.

Oyster stew

Oysters have always been a popular dish in the United States, but stews have become a traditional dish during the Christmas season. And the Irish made it popular.

Oyster stew – Oyster stew

In the 19th century, several tens of thousands of native Irish immigrants to the United States. Most of them were Orthodox Catholics, so they did not eat meat during fasting – including Christmas.

During the winter fast, the Irish traditionally cooked a roast of moth – this is sea pike – with milk and butter.

In Ireland there was a lot of it, but in the USA there was nothing like it. Through experiments, they decided to replace the moth with oysters – they resembled moths in taste and texture. The recipe hit Americans’ taste and since the 1860s, oyster stew has become a traditional American Christmas dish.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

The tradition of dressing up in weird and downright creepy sweaters dates back to the 1980s. But it became a real trend at the suggestion of Canadians. In 2001 the book “Ugly Christmas Sweaters Party“And away we go. A huge number of people supported this joke and dressed up in the dirtiest clothes they had.

Such self-irony was to the taste of Americans, so today parties of ugly sweaters have become quite normal.

Tens of thousands of these sweaters are sold around Christmas. Many online stores even have separate categories of “ugly Christmas sweater” products. Amazon, Kohl’s, Etsy, Walmart and many more.

There is even a separate online boutiquewho only sells ugly Christmas sweaters. And there are hundreds of them.

These sweaters are often bought as a gift. After all, this is a very funny way to congratulate a person who can laugh at himself on the holidays.


Christmas holidays are full of unusual traditions and legends. Both in Russian and in English cultures there are a huge number of them. We have only touched on a tiny part.

We are sure that every family has its own traditions. And that’s cool – this is what helps keep the spirit of the winter holidays alive.

And on the eve of Christmas and New Year, we want to wish all the residents of Khabrov: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May all the bad things stay in 2020, and all the good things will be with you in 2021!

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