Happy Christmas!

Did you know that in 1644, the English Parliament passed a law making Christmas illegal? 

Viewed by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans as superfluous and threatening to core Christian beliefs, all activities to do with Christmas were forbidden.  Anyone caught celebrating Christmas or attending church was arrested. The ban was understandably unpopular, and many people continued to celebrate privately, albeit in a far more restrained manner.  Legal Christmas celebrations returned to England following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The Brits have made up for the ban with a vengeance! Christmas is everywhere in London.

Unlike the United States, where many holiday celebrations are recognized, in London it is pure, unadulterated CHRISTMAS. 

And an English Christmas is not Merry but HappyIt is hard not to be happy with all the good cheer around the city.

May your days be merry and bright:  To be festive, holiday lights go up in every neighborhood.  An English friend of mine said that a favorite family pastime is judging the decorative lights as they traipse across the city.  “St. John’s Wood is rubbish this year“.  “Sloane Square looks magical with all the snowflake lights in the trees”.

Hark the herald angels sing:  Carols are sung in every hall, cathedral, and auditorium, and the concert offerings are endless.  Professional groups, church choirs, and school choruses keep everyone in tune with the Christmas spirit.

Santa baby, I forgot to mention one little thing… a ring:  Sorry but the ring reference was just too perfect for Pippa!! Ice skating rinks “pop up” across the city.  It is all the rage to rent skates and take a spin outside Somerset House or the Natural History Museum.   The London papers cried:  “Pippa missed the mark!”as Miss Middleton twirled her famous derriere in an outfit that was not considered “ice skating chic“.

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland:  Hyde Park is transformed into “Winter Wonderland”.  This sounds more romantic than it actually is.  Essentially, the North Mianus Pow Wow moves into London for two months.  Children delight in gravity defying rides, roller coasters, a giant ferris wheel, sticky cotton candy, and games with giant stuffed animal prizes.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way:  Coins jingle in a bucket being passed along the High Streets as the Salvation Army brass band appears everywhere, just like in all those old Christmas movies in grainy black and white.    Here is the group I passed last weekend up near Hampstead Heath.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly:

Decked are the halls and windows of Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.  These famous department stores are literally a feast for the eyes with artful displays of  Turkish Delight, mince pies, Christmas cakes, chocolate truffles filled with mulled wine, and other tempting holiday treats.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree how lovely are your branches:  The Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square is an annual gift from Norway. The tradition started in 1947 as a symbol of gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II.  Each year, there is a Christmas tree lighting ceremony together with carol singing throughout the Christmas period.  The tree is always decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights.  Not as bushy as Rockefeller Center, but just as grand.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!




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