Christmas in England
The English Christmas has gone through a number of striking transformations in its nearly two-thousand-year history (see also Christmas in Europe; myrrh; Puritans; Twelve Days of Christmas; Christmas in Victorian England). Current English Christmas celebrations bear some resemblance to American celebrations. This resemblance is partly due to the fact that English settlers brought many of their Christmas customs to America during colonial times (see also Christmas in colonial America). The fact that the British and American peoples have adopted similar Christmas customs since that time may be even more significant in explaining the resemblance.
Like many Americans, the English celebrate the holiday with a Christmas tree, gifts, and Christmas carols. Over the centuries the English developed a large stock of Christmas carols. Many of these songs, such as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” and “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” have also established themselves in the American carol repertoire. Caroling, a popular Christmas custom in England, keeps these songs in circulation. Another popular custom in both countries, sending Christmas cards, began in England in the nineteenth century. The English decorate their homes with greenery for the Christmas season. Old traditions promote holly, ivy, and mistletoe as the most appropriate plants for this purpose, but other green branches may also be used. After nightfall brilliant light displays illuminate the main avenues of many towns and cities (see also ornaments).