Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dickensian Christmas Fun in the UK

Christmas festivities have changed dramatically over the centuries, but if you ask people about a traditional Christmas the chances are they will immediately think of snow-covered country lanes, carol singers and eating far too much in the afternoons. In general, we tend to picture Yuletide festivities from the 19th century, primarily because of the Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. The literary classic told the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, and how he was transformed from a somewhat miserable and curmudgeonly individual into a grateful and happy citizen who became determined to spread joy and goodwill to those around him. The book remains hugely popular with both adults and children to this day, and is now regarded as a symbol of the true spirit of Christmas.

In the United Kingdom, there are many great traditions surrounding the Christmas festivities, and in recent times many towns and cities have embraced them further by staging Dickensian fairs. Every December, several high streets and squares will play host to groups of carol singers and brass bands all dressed in the appropriate attire and providing a wonderful soundtrack to locals and visitors alike. 

Shop till you drop. The shops will be decorated in the Victorian style, and will often feature some of the more traditional gifts you would expect to have found many decades ago. In some cases, their wares will even be displayed on stalls outside the store on the pavements, although given the unpredictably of the British weather this can never be guaranteed! A shopping trip during a Dickensian Christmas event is a surreal but delightful experience. It goes without saying that a major aspect of the Yuletide season is the food and drink we manage to consume, and that was no different when Charles Dickens was alive.

These days, you can still savor the delicious smell of roasting chestnuts in the streets, and of hot sugary doughnuts straight from the oven. And if you’ve never tried a traditional mince pie, this is the time to do so, especially with a generous helping of fresh cream. One of the most distinctive tastes of a traditional Dickensian event is mulled wine, which is served hot and with added spices. It provides the perfect opportunity to relax awhile and warm up, so if you find an empty bench close to the brass band, be sure to rest and take in the unique atmosphere. There are plenty of locations throughout the UK which play host to these wonderful fairs, so if you’re fortunate enough to be in Britain during December, take a look on the web for one near you.

David Showell has lived in the UK all his life and is a big fan of Dickensian Christmas events. He works for 121 CarHire.

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