What It Means To Have Christmas At Home In The UK

Back in the day, (before Christianity) people would have mid-winter festivals to help the sun's power return, they would bring in green plants to ask Saturn to come back in Spring. 

Stonehenge, arguably the UK's most famous landmark, is proof that people in the UK have celebrated  mid-winter for a long time: it was built for a festival and to pray for the sun to come back.  There would be a big feast then too.

Then, when Christianity came to the UK, a lot of these traditions were adapted slightly to fit in with the 'birth of Christ' and called Christmas - the green plants were still brought into the home, the feast became Christmas dinner and although people no longer prayed for Spring to come, the celebration of life and family still echoed older traditions. 

Nowadays in the UK, Christmas has almost become a capitalist celebration. There are still people who go to church, but many more who associate Christmas just with presents, buying and general obscene consumerism. 

But in the UK, regardless of whether people celebrate Christmas religiously or culturally there are lots of things pretty much everybody does: 

Decorations and Presents

Turning on the Christmas lights in the UK is a big deal. Around November, people will gather in town/the city to watch the lights being turned on. Many people also decorate their homes with Christmas lights. 

Traditionally, the giving of presents at Christmas is symbolic to the Three Wise Men giving Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Most families in the UK open their presents on Christmas morning - with the exception of the Royal Family who open their gifts on Christmas Eve, as per German tradition. 

Most children in the UK believe in a magical, fictitious elf who brings them presents - more commonly known as Father Christmas.   


Food is an extremely important part of Christmas in the UK. Christmas dinner is usually eaten at lunchtime and is basically a fancy roast dinner: roast potatoes, vegetables, the infamous Brussel sprouts; roast meat - chicken/ turkey/ beef/ goose/ salmon/ vegetarian alternatives; Yorkshire puddings, mince pies, Christmas pudding, yule log, mulled wine and advent calendars are just a few of the traditional Christmas treats. 

Being With Family At Home

For most, Christmas is about spending the day at home with family. Everyone gathers for the day to enjoy each other's company, swap gifts and have Christmas dinner. 


This Christmas, more than 250,000 people including 120,000 children in Britain will be homeless. Homelessness is a disgrace and has devastating effects. Every person needs a safe place to call home. We want to see an end to people unwillingly living in temporary accommodation. 

In the spirit of all senses of the word Christmas, it is the season to be giving. Help make someone's Christmas this year. 

What can you do to help?

Shelter.org are organising Slippers For Shelter - an easy, cosy fundraising event. All you have to do is wear your slippers (to work/school etc) on the 9th December and make a donation to Shelter

It's simple and fun to take part and a great way to raise awareness. Make sure to snap a photo for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #SlippersForShelter 

Your donation could mean the difference between someone waking up on Christmas morning in a hostel or a home. 

Additional ways to help:
Sign the petition Enough Is Enough to ask Prime Minister May to make ending homelessness an urgent priority for the government. 

Send Shelter Christmas e-cards to your friends and family this year. 

Follow Shelter on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date with new campaigns and fundraisers.  

How can you make sure the charity you are donating to is legitimate?
You can easily make sure that your money is going to the 'right place':
1. Does their website end in 'org'? - websites that end in org are not-for-profit organisations.
2. For UK charities, you can find information on registered charities at https://www.gov.uk/find-charity-information

As for Shelter.org, more than half of their staff are volunteers. 79% of donations are spent on helping people through advice, support and campaigning - including face to face advice and support, house support and aid, legal advice, and helpline and digital advice. 

The remaining 21% of donations are spent on fundraising - including training and publications. 

Essentially, for every £1 you donate 79p will directly help people struggling with bad housing and homelessness. The other 21p will go to fundraising. 

Shelter's housing advice has been changing lives since 1966 - that means they have 50 years of experience in helping homeless people. 

What It Means To Have Christmas At Home In The UK
Christmas in the UK has always been about celebration, love and family. Please join us in helping homeless people have a home this Christmas by being part of the Slippers For Shelter campaign: wear your slippers on the 9th December, get your friends and family to do so too, use the hashtag #slippersforshelter and, most importantly, donate to Shelter

Thank you for reading! 

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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