I’ve been here (New York) two Christmases (Holidays) now, so I pretty much know everything there is to know about how it’s done here. I did a lot more Christmases than that in London, so I definitely know how it’s done there.
England is still technically a Christian nation but Christmas could not be further from being a Christian celebration; it’s about food (and lots of it), gifts (crappy ones), drink (so much booze it’s ridiculous), and fun. It is significant, and the full-on party and mucking about bit lasts for at least two weeks. Honestly.
New York is actually less multi-cultural historically (believe it or not) than London, and seemingly way more religious—yet ‘Christmas’ as such doesn’t really happen the way I thought it would. It is about food, but a bit less specifically than in the UK. Gifts happen, booze happens, and fun happens, but with less commitment than in London. London is basically drunk for two weeks, but in New York, some people get quite drunk during the week or two before.
On the day itself, in the UK, almost everyone will cook a huge turkey, eat and drink almost all day, then sit down round the television and watch something festive or an old Bond film.
In New York, everybody will be eating something different, based more on their heritage perhaps, and then everyone goes to see a movie, at the cinema…strange!
On subsequent days in London, people will pretty much do the same as on Christmas day, finding different ways to eat more leftover turkey, drinking loads, and eating the same “Quality Street” chocolates as they did when they were kids. In New York, people will actually be out and doing stuff, like skating at The Rockefeller or going to see The Nutcracker…. Very strange!
In London everyone will stretch Christmas out for as long as they possibly can, and arrive back at work bloated and terrified of even the thought of another drink (for a week or two anyway). They will then say the break was boring, and they hated having to see relatives and in-laws.
Here everyone will arrive back at work upbeat and positive, saying how awesome the Holidays were.
Christmas here is absolutely beautiful, yet it’s pretty much wrapped up by the end of December 25th! I don’t get it. What a waste…. They (we?) do it so well.
Christmas in London seems slightly less showy and shouted about, but also seems more important somehow, and everyone joins in. I’m so confused and conflicted—I need it to be best here, because this is where I live!
Well then, Merry Christmas (UK only), Happy Holidays (US only), and a very prosperous New Year (all).