What does Christmas mean to you?
You're probably not thinking of presents under a tree. The real spirit of Christmas for you is something more significant, like family, home, traditions, and really good food. Like the Grinch you have discovered that Christmas comes without ribbons or tags, and even without boxes, packages, or bags. The important thing is celebrating with the ones you love. Right?
But what about the lonely ones? Does the day have any meaning for them? Does it have much meaning for someone like me who finds herself in a foreign country far from all she's ever known, unable to partake in the traditions that have always meant "Christmas"?
The beauty and wonder of it all is that Christmas does mean something to me, perhaps more than it's ever done. Being here in Lancashire instead of back home in the States means that December has looked quite different for me, but I'm finding more depth than ever before. The root of Christmas, the good news of Jesus Christ's birth, is easier to concentrate on when you're not distracted by all the frippery we tend to crowd around December 25.
It's just as beautiful across the ocean.
That's not to say that I haven't been busy celebrating in every way I can as I experience my first Christmas in England! So far I have taken part in these important British traditions:
- Celebrating Advent with the lighting of candles in a wreath
- Singing carols not popular in the USA, like Angels From the Realms of Glory and Once in Royal David's City
- Saying "Happy Christmas" rather than "Merry Christmas" (though both are used here)
- Eating fresh roasted chestnuts in a British grandmother's lounge
- Hanging "baubles" on a tree rather than "ornaments"
- Drinking mulled wine and snacking on mince pies
- Shopping at an outdoor Christmas market
- Hearing a choir sing in a cathedral
- Counting down the days with an advent calendar
- Popping a cracker, wearing a paper crown, and pretending the lame joke is funny
Have I missed out on your favorite tradition?
Leave a comment quick, there's not much time before Christmas!
I wish every Britophile reading this post a very happy and equally merry Christmas, and a thoroughly fantastic New Year!
Abigail a.k.a. The Britophile