Opening presents, watching the Queen’s speech and eating more than one’s stomach can handle. There are some things you just can’t not do on Christmas Day.
But some of Britain’s oldest festive traditions, from hanging real stockings to singing carols are unfortunately dying out.
A new survey of 2,000 British adults, commissioned by Egmont Publishing (publisher of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories), reveals that whilst two thirds (60%) think festive traditions are important to the celebrations, classic activities such as roasting chestnuts are losing favour to more modern pursuits.
One in three (33%) of those surveyed said that playing ‘parlour games’ as a family (such as charades) is the festive pleasure that needs saving the most.
The research has inspired a series of brand new classic Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations by Mark Burgess (in the original style of E H Shepard), to remind the nation of the joy in these much-loved but slowly dying traditions.
Playing ‘parlour games’ as a family
Winnie-the-Pooh hummed a concentrating sort of tune as he wondered what Christopher Robin was showing them. “Oh Bear” said Christopher Robin, “it’s a game, it’s called Charades.”
“Now”, instructed Rabbit, “we shall all sing together as soon as Christopher Robin opens his door” and he knocked hard three times, just to make sure that Christopher Robin would hear. “It’s snowing” said Eeyore gloomily as they waited.
Making paper chains to decorate the home
Christopher Robin gathered around his friends and began showing them how to make their own paper chains, using their favourite festive colours. Winnie-the-Pooh thought the decorations looked so special that he wondered why people didn’t decorate their houses with paper chains every day.
Putting satsumas and nuts in stockings
Christopher Robin explained that putting satsumas and nuts in Christmas stockings had been done for years and years and probably forever and ever and therefore it was a “tradition”.
Enjoying roasted chestnuts
“What is that delicious smell?” Piglet exclaimed. Christopher Robin smiled - this was the first time his friends had ever smelled roasted chestnuts. Eeyore sighed “I don’t know how it is Christopher Robin, but what with all this snow and one thing and another, my tail is getting cold. I don’t want to complain, but there it is. My tail’s cold.” Thinking of poor Eeyore, Christopher Robin decided to treat his friends to some roasted chestnuts to warm up their tummies (and tails!)
Sending Christmas cards
“Sending cards is a great way to show people that you love them and are thinking about them over the festive season,” Christopher Robin told his friends. “Well, in that case, I want to send you all a card!’” said Piglet assertively. Once everyone had written their cards, Christopher Robin took them to their nearest post box. The large hole in the post box reminded Winnie-the-Pooh of Rabbit’s home, so he asked “Rabbit, do any of your friends live inside there and do they mind if we put Christmas cards in their home?” Rabbit said in a matter-of-fact way. “Of course rabbits don’t go about living in post boxes. The constant interruption of post would be very inconvenient.”
Your Christmas stocking being an actual stocking
“The fact is, Father Christmas slides down the chimney, which is why we must place our stockings along the mantle peas” Rabbit explained to the group. Winnie-the-Pooh couldn’t help but think that the stockings might be more suited to keeping his feet nice and toasty in this cold weather, and that they were a little similar to Tigger because of their stripes.
Getting dressed in best clothes for Christmas lunch
Christopher Robin explained the tradition of people wearing their best clothes for Christmas lunch and gave Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet their very own bow ties. “A boat tie? Is it called that because it’s nice and colourful like the sails of a boat?” Winnie-the-Pooh asked. “No, silly Bear, it’s a bow tie, like a bow on a Christmas present.”
Going for a family walk together on Christmas Day
After all of the festive excitement, Christopher Robin suggested that they go outside as it was a very good day for a walk and that perhaps they should walk to the North Pole? Winnie-the-Pooh was very happy, because it was he who had first found it.
Writing a letter to Father Christmas
“Oh bother, this is going to be tricky” said Winnie-the-Pooh as he tried to write a letter to Father Christmas. “Can I help you?” asked Piglet. “Well, I just don’t think Father Christmas will be able to bring all the honey I’d like down our chimney…” Pooh sighed.
This article was first published in 2015.