Christmas in family

Reading Activity

Most families think of Christmas as a time to get together with other members of the family. People often travel from far away to be with other family members at Christmas. Those people who cannot travel often make long-distance phone calls on Christmas Day. Many people also see Christmas as a time to reach out to others that they know might be lonely, and invite them to dinner on Christmas Day. Christmas is seen as a time for people of all ages to have fun together, for cousins to get to know each other, for grandparents to see their grandchildren and for the family to admire the babies that have been born during the year. Big family parties are usually a time of joy, but some families often talk about their disagreements and have big fights at Christmas time.

Family traditions are very different. Some families might all go off to church together, to a Carol Service, a Midnight Mass, or a Christmas Morning service. Some families are pulled out of bed very early by children who want to open their presents. In other families, presents are given on St. Nicholas Day, on Christmas Eve or not until after church on Christmas morning. The Christmas feast might start on Christmas Eve, with a special breakfast on Christmas morning, or at midday on Christmas Day.

Some families have a tradition of carol singing, and might go around the streets, to hospitals and other such places singing with members of their church. Other families like to watch certain television programs together, which might include carol services and the Queen's Message. Some families use Christmas as a time to play music and sing together, or to read a favorite book such as "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. In countries in the Southern Hemisphere, a visit to the beach or a swim in a pool is often part of the Christmas Day tradition.

In English-speaking countries, the traditional dessert is Christmas plum pudding. Nowadays these are often bought from bakers, but many people make their own to a family recipe. The tradition came from the Middle Ages when the pudding was used to preserve some of the fruit from the Autumn until the mid-winter. A traditional pudding is baked six weeks before Christmas and is left tied up in a cloth, in a cool place. Stirring the pudding is sometimes a family tradition, with everyone making a wish as they stir. Traditionally a silver coin would be stirred into the pudding, to bring luck to the person who found it. Nowadays most coins cannot be used because they taste horrible and may be poisonous. Some families use old coins or silver charms. On Christmas Day the pudding must be boiled in a pot for several hours. When it is served, the cloth is cut off, brandy is poured onto the pudding, and is set on fire before it is carried to the table.

Many families have a Christmas Cake or a special bread instead of a pudding (or as well as a pudding). These are very different depending on the country, but often have Marzipan which is made from almonds and is traditional in many countries at Christmas. In France Buche de Noel or gingerbread men and women are decorated and hung on the Christmas tree. In Scotland a pastry biscuit called shortbread is made and has become a popular tradition in many countries. A German tradition is pfeffernuss, spiced cookies rolled in powdered sugar. Other Christmas food includes raisins, sultanas, ginger, Turkish delight, almonds, chocolates, caramel toffee, candy canes and oranges.

Many families also prepare mulled wine which is warmed with cinnamon and nutmeg or egg nogs, a sweet drink made of milk, sugar, eggs, nutmeg and sometimes alcohol.

  • How do families celebrate Christmas?
  • What family traditions are mentioned?
  • What do people usually do on Christmas day?
  • What did you find out about Christmas dinner?
  • Which is the specific Christmas food in England?