Merry Christmas and welcome to our final Christmas episode of Slang with me Louisa May Adams. This show will give you the chance to hear, understand the origins and meanings of new slang and to use it immediately! So let’s get started…
We all have our own special way of celebrating Christmas, whether its spending all day socialising with friends or simply curling up by the fireplace all day. Today I want to tell you about what British people think the ‘must do’s’ of Christmas day are.
To begin with an iconic tradition is THE QUEEN’S SPEECH. On Christmas day at 3pm, most of the nation stops opening presents and eating turkey to hear a special Christmas message from The Queen. It is a tradition that started in 1952 on BBC radio one . The message is recorded in advance and is usually short. It includes Queen reflecting on the past year and wishing everyone Happy Christmas.
Ok number two of our top traditions Crackers C-R-A-C-K-E-R-S… a strange tradition indeed. I currently live in Italy and my endless search for crackers is infuriating- they simply don’t exsists in most other countries apart from the UK!
So what are they? Basically they’re cardboard tubes that have gunpowder in them and they make a cracking sound when you pull them apart. Once pulled you can find small toys n them, a paper crown to be awkwardly warn during the Christmas meal and a silly joke to read to the people around you. They are always opened before the Christmas meal and enjoyed during. They are a senseless tradition but a tradition nonetheless, so if you are at a British meal and you see a cracker just pull it and see.
Ok so last and maybe the most strange traditions is the pantomime spelt P-A-N-T-O-M-I-M-E. I know what your thinking.. Hey isn’t a pantomime a street performer usually found lerking on the streets of Paris?
No! In fact this is a fantastic British tradition that is pretty difficult tp explain to non-Brits.
A pantomime or “Panto”, as it is sometimes referred to is basically a play seen at Christmas time. The show is usually not Christmas related but based of a fairytale, interjected with modern day humour, for example referring todays politics or social climate.
The play usually includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing and always includes a dame ‘DAME’ who is a gender-crossing actor. It includes lots of audience participation and children usually leave the show with lots of free sweets, that are handed out during the performance.
Over years the “panto” has developed a set of expected conventions including: a cheery song with which the audience join in, double entendre and the phrases, ‘It’s behind you!’ and ‘Oh no you didn’t!’
The show usually includes a celebrity from a soap opera or film, this really draws in the crowds. It is one of the oldest Christmas traditions and was developed from the Italian street theatre of the Commedia dell’Arte in the 16th Century.
Going to the pantomime with your whole family is a yearly tradition for many brits- so if you ever happen to find yourself in the Uk over Christmas its definetly worth a watch! I promise you will understand British culture a lot more after doing so…
So there are all our top Christmas traditions! Which one sounds the best to you?
That’s our final Christmas episode, but do not worry! We will be back on Monday to give you a new dose of slang!
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So where ever you are and what are you are doing, from all of the slang podcast, we wish you a very merry Christmas!