Having enjoyed many Christmases with our English friends over the years, we have begun to include some British customs and food into our Christmas celebrations. Mince pies, Christmas pudding with brandy butters, the Queen’s Christmas Message, and Christmas crackers are all fun ways to shake up your family’s customs. Crackers can be found at most home goods stores, such as Crate and Barrel, and good groceries carry Christmas pudding, mince pies, and brandy butters during the Christmas season. We have a wonderful British store near us in Long Grove called British Accents which carries many British foodstuffs and gifts all year long.
I might even try to make the mince pies myself from this supposedly easy recipe, and this recipe for Christmas pudding is made without the traditional suet. If you’re going to try Christmas pudding, it’s time to make it so that it can age. Here’s a quick version if you don’t get around to making it until the last minute. Don’t forget to buy the brandy so that you can set it on fire when you serve it!
While you’re cooking or driving around in your car buying all of your British Christmas items, I suggest listening to some traditional British music. These were all available at my library.
Adeste Fidelis! Christmas Down the Ages was recorded in 1996 and features the English soprano Emma Kirkby, who specializes in early music. I was surprised to find that Amazon actually has a Westminster Abbey Choir “Store” where you can purchase both compact discs and MP3 recordings by the choir.
Although it is not strictly a British box set of Christmas music, The Baroque Christmas Album is a compilation of recordings from important early music performance groups. This album is also available in MP3 versions from Amazon.
Musicians from the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields under the baton of Neville Mariner – what’s not to like? Christmas with the Academy is a listener’s delight and is also available in CD and MP3 formats. If you’re in London by Trafalgar Square, stop in to see what’s going on at St. Martins in the Fields. There’s a nice cafe downstairs in the old crypt and you might catch a concert or a rehearsal as we did the day we visited.
All on a Christmas Day is a collection of Irish Christmas music performed by Jimmy Keane and Robbie O’Connell, so I suppose for the Irish purists out there, this album doesn’t belong with a post entitled British Christmas.
If you are a history buff, I encourage you to watch this video of Queen Elizabeth’s first Christmas Message in 1957. It’s fascinating. The Anglophiles among you may also be interested in the videos at The Royal Channel. Who knew?
Just in case you haven’t had enough, here’s last year’s 24 Days of Christmas post.