England - Christmas
Christmas is the most popular family holiday in England. On 24 December ussualy all preparations for Christmas are complete. Christmas greeting cards are exchanged, a Christmas tree is decorated and presents are purchased. In many work places the annual parties are held and shops and banks close earlier. Late in the evening some people go to church to attend the so called "midnight mass". Children do not forget about hanging up old socks at the heads of their beds as they believe that Santa Claus who arrives in a sledge drawn by reindeer visits each child's house and leaves wonderful presents.
Christmas Eve is followed by Christmas Day (25 December) which is the most important day of Christmas. Early in the morning children wake up and open their presents. At midday the whole family gathers at the Christmas table. Christmas dinner traditionally consists of roast turkey, mince pies and rich Christmas pudding decorated with holly and containing delicacies, dried fruit and spices. Everyone eats one's fill and children have much fun pulling "crackers" (cardboard tubes containing small presents, printed jokes and a paper hat and jokes are read. On this day the Queen deliviers an annual oration on television.
26 December, following Christmas Day, is called Boxing Day. It is celebreted as a bank holiday. On this day people give presents of money to paperboys or dustmen. They visit their friends or arrange parties. This is the last non-working day and the last day of the Christmas celebration. However, the Christmas season continues until the twelfth day after Christmas Day (6 January).