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Christmas Day in United Kingdom

Quick Facts

Christmas Day is a holiday that traditionally celebrates Jesus Christ's birth. It is on December 25 in the United Kingdom.

Name

Christmas Day

Christmas Day 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015
List of dates for other years

Christmas Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom on December 25. It traditionally celebrates Jesus Christ's birth but many aspects of this holiday have pagan origins. Christmas is a time for many people to give and receive gifts and prepare special festive meals.

Christmas Day

Family dinners are a popular way of celebrating Christmas Day.

©iStockphoto.com/ Lisa Thornberg

What do people do?

Prior to Christmas Day, people decorate their homes and gardens prior to Christmas Day. These decorations may include:

In many towns and cities, the shopping streets are also decorated with lights and large pine trees, often specially imported from Norway. In some places a Nativity scene is arranged. This illustrates the story of Jesus' birth using statues or actors and live animals. Many churches hold special services in the night before Christmas Day.

Many people spend Christmas Day with family members, with whom they exchange gifts and cards. Many children wake up to find a sock or stocking filled with small gifts on their bed or somewhere else in the house. These have supposedly been brought by a mythical figure called 'Father Christmas' or 'Santa Claus', who lives for most of the year at the North Pole. He travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and enters houses by climbing down the chimney. He hopes to enjoy a small snack of mince pies and brandy at each house. He supposedly travels so fast that he can deliver presents to all children in one night, although some in some stories elves help him with his work.

Later in the day, people may attend special church services, even if they do not usually go to church. Nearly everyone prepares and eats a special meal. This often includes roast turkey, potatoes and parsnips, and other vegetables. After the main course, Christmas pudding is often eaten. This is a heavy steamed, dense, cake-like pudding filled with dried fruit and nuts. Burning brandy is often poured over it as it is served, giving a spectacular effect. Mince pies are also popular on Christmas Day. They are sweet pastry cases filled with a mixture of dried fruit, fat and alcohol.

Public life

Nearly all organizations, except hospitals and shelters for the homeless, are closed on Christmas Day. Some public houses and smaller stores selling food may open for a few hours in the middle of the day. Public transport services do not run to their normal timetables and may even not run at all. Public life closes down almost totally on Christmas Day.

Many churches hold special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some also organize shelter, company and food for the homeless or those who need help. Others hold events for people who wish to return to the spiritual aspects of Christmas and turn away from the commercial aspects of modern Christmas celebrations.

Background and symbols

Christmas Day is often seen as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. However, many aspects of the celebration have their origins in the Pagan traditions of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. These include bringing pieces of evergreen trees into homes, lighting fires, holding parties and eating special foods. When missionaries converted the inhabitants of these countries to Christianity, many of these customs were included in the Christian celebrations.

There are many Christmas symbols. These include leaves and berries from the holly tree and mistletoe bush, pine trees, candles and small lights. Figures associated with the season are Father Christmas or Santa Claus, the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the other characters from the Nativity story. Presents and Christmas food, such as turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies also symbolize Christmas. A special mention should be reserved for the robin red breast. This small bird, with its red feathered breast, is at its most beautiful in the middle of the winter and is often seen as a decoration on Christmas cards, wrapping paper and cakes.

About Christmas Day in other countries

Read more about Christmas Day.

Christmas Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
TueDec 251990Christmas DayPublic holiday 
WedDec 251991Christmas DayPublic holiday 
FriDec 251992Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SatDec 251993Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SunDec 251994Christmas DayPublic holiday 
MonDec 251995Christmas DayPublic holiday 
WedDec 251996Christmas DayPublic holiday 
ThuDec 251997Christmas DayPublic holiday 
FriDec 251998Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SatDec 251999Christmas DayPublic holiday 
MonDec 252000Christmas DayPublic holiday 
TueDec 252001Christmas DayPublic holiday 
WedDec 252002Christmas DayPublic holiday 
ThuDec 252003Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SatDec 252004Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SunDec 252005Christmas DayPublic holiday 
MonDec 252006Christmas DayPublic holiday 
TueDec 252007Christmas DayPublic holiday 
ThuDec 252008Christmas DayPublic holiday 
FriDec 252009Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SatDec 252010Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SunDec 252011Christmas DayPublic holiday 
TueDec 252012Christmas DayPublic holiday 
WedDec 252013Christmas DayPublic holiday 
ThuDec 252014Christmas DayPublic holiday 
FriDec 252015Christmas DayPublic holiday 
SunDec 252016Christmas DayPublic holiday 
MonDec 252017Christmas DayPublic holiday 
TueDec 252018Christmas DayPublic holiday 
WedDec 252019Christmas DayPublic holiday 
FriDec 252020Christmas DayPublic holiday 

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2014 in United Kingdom

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