I could fill a book with all of the street lights, but these were my two favourites.
The Similarities: Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Gravy, Stuffing. The true basics don't change from country to country.
I love Christmas Crackers. It's one of the best parts of Christmas in the UK to me-though they were an entirely foreign concept to me until 2008. Crackers are opened with your Christmas meal by grabbing on one end-and having someone grab the other end. When you each pull, the cracker (with help from a bit of gunpowder) pops ('cracks') as it tears open. Crackers usually contain a trinket of some kind, a joke, and a tissue paper hat. You put your hat on & wear it while eating your Christmas meal. It's my favorite part of Christmas, and I love the irony that a country that is considered to be so 'stiff upper lip' sits around eating their Christmas Meal with paper hats on!
Another great part of Christmas in London is that everyone says 'Merry Christmas.' Regardless of who they're saying it to (read: someone who isn't Christian). I think I blogged about this once in 2008 about how surprised I was about this, and though I'm still surprised 3 Christmasses on, the child in me likes that PC-ness simply gets tossed out the window this time of year: I was in my local grocery store on December 23rd, and overheard a store manager say to an employee who was leaving for the weekend, 'I know you aren't Christian, but Merry Christmas anyway!' If we would have been in the US, a lawsuit would have ensued, but here, the employee just took it in stride and wished the manager a Merry Christmas in return. Nice.
The Queens Speech...I can't quite figure this one out. Tradition as long back as I know, every Christmas Day, the Queen/King of England gives a public speech that's broadcast throughout the UK & even the Commonwealth. No more than 10 minutes long-and the speech this year was barely 5 minutes long-it's usually just a simple 'yea, England' type message from the Queen. Simon says he hasn't watched the speech since he was a child, and a chat with some of my British friends yielded the same commentary. Nonetheless, I was glued to the BBC at 3pm when the speech came on. In truth, I can't remember a thing she said. Hee.