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Top 10 Modern Christmas Traditions in the UK

When we think of Christmas traditions in the UK, we envision warm roasting fires with mince pies and carrots sat aside for the arrival of Santa Claus and his reindeer. We also think of children tucked up in bed with stockings hanging at the end, hoping for something more than a clementine to wake up to.

But recently there have been a new wave of Christmas traditions to storm the UK. With brands taking advantage of consumer’s love for all things merry and bright, the UK now celebrate the season with some rather bizarre but nevertheless fun and festive traditions…

  1. Christmas TV adverts
  2. Anything but chocolate advent calendars
  3. Christmas number ones
  4. Christmas Eve boxes
  5. Christmas coffees
  6. Seasonal sales
  7. Christmas Markets
  8. Christmas TV specials
  9. Ugly Christmas Jumpers
  10. Seasonal sandwiches

Let’s take a look a detailed look at them below…

1.–Christmas Adverts

By far one of the biggest indicators that the British are gearing up for Christmas is when Christmas adverts start to appear during prime time TV ad breaks.

In the UK, the department store, John Lewis is renowned for offering the most spectacular and well-received adverts. It’s no surprise, spending around £7 million to create them, viewers have enjoyed watching an array of animated characters come to life over the past decade, sharing short heart-warming tales of love and friendship. Featuring an excitable dragon named Edgar, check out this year’s cracker here!

As the love for Christmas adverts has grown, so has a fun-filled festive rivalry between leading supermarkets and department stores, who battle it out each year to be famed as the nation’s favourite Christmas ad.

2. Anything But Chocolate Advent Calendars

Forget chocolate, that’s so last decade. Right now, consumers want an advent calendar which is filled with anything but the traditional treats.

Most popular in the UK are beauty advent calendars, containing an indulgent collection of make-up and skincare products. Also very popular are mini tipple advent calendars, savoury treats and even jewellery advent calendars! Ranging hugely in price, hundreds of brands are jumping on the trend, with luxury brands such as Tiffany and Beaverbrooks offering advent calendars that start at £100,000!

3. Christmas Number Ones

‘Who’s going to take home the Christmas number one?’ It’s all your hear on the radio around the festive season, and it’s even the running theme in the UK’s most loved Christmas film, Love Actually!

In the noughties, it was tradition for the UK Christmas number one to be claimed by X Factor winners, fueled by the show’s huge and dedicated audience. Having secured six number ones over the last decade, listeners grew tired of expecting X Factor to secure the top spot each year, so fought to get the most anti-Christmas and anti-X Factor song to the top spot. Therefore, in 2009, Rage Against the Machine’s expletive protest song ‘Killing in the Name,’ beat the X Factor finalists to the top after selling over half a million copies.

Since then, the competition has opened up, introducing a varied selection of Christmas number ones. Recent winners have included charity singles, acoustic pop-star songs such as Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ and, even still, a couple of X Factor songs.

4. Christmas Eve Boxes

Again, believed to have derived from Germany, the country’s tradition of giving gifts on Christmas Eve, a new trend has crept into the UK – Christmas Eve Boxes.

Usually filled with a set of pjs, hot chocolate and a festive film, they have become a way for Brits to start the kick-off the celebrations early with a box of Christmas goodies.

5. Christmas Coffees


You’ve seen the advertisements – when the red paper cups come to stores, you know it’s Christmas time!

Popular coffee chains, such as Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero,Pret and more announce the arrival of the festive season by pulling out popular Christmas-inspired coffees. Think Gingerbread Lattes, Black Forest Hot Chocolate and Hazelnut Cappuccinos – a sweet-tooth haven!

6. Seasonal Sales

Boxing Day sales have been immensely popular for decades, with some bargain hunters flocking to popular stores at 6am to get their hands on the most popular deals.

Today, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to sale shopping. There are an abundance of seasonal sales taking place across the period of November – January, with the biggest being Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Two famous American shopping sales which mark the end of Thanksgiving, they have recently taken the UK by storm, encouraging brands to slash prices and profit big by selling in masses. It’s clearly working though, with Brits estimated to spend a whopping £7 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to grab some last-minute Christmas bargains!

7. Christmas Markets


Though Christmas markets have been a popular tradition across most of Europe, in recent years they have stormed UK towns and cities with the arrival of festive German markets. With every major city in the UK featuring them, it’s hard to escape the wooden chalets, indulgent snacks and general festive atmosphere during November and December.

Popular German stores Aldi and Lidl are partly to blame, with their recent emergence in the UK, they have introduced an array of traditional tantalising Christmas food such as stollen and lebkuchen to British taste buds, again, adding to the popularity of traditional German Christmas food.

With Manchester’s German-inspired Christmas market growing by a whopping 95% in the past twenty years, it seems as though the trend is here to stay, with more and more people searching for handmade gifts and quaint market stalls, offering an extra special shopping experience during the festive season.

8. TV Christmas Specials

Though British soap operas have been creating Christmas specials over the years, there has been a recent surge in the number of TV specials of popular shows. From one-off reality TV episodes, comedy sketch-shows, festive documentaries and book-to-screen creations, there are plenty of fun-filled festive watches to get you in the spirit in the run up to Christmas.

9. Ugly Christmas Jumpers

Though ugly Christmas sweaters have been popular in the US since their emergence on television in the 1980s, the ugly Christmas jumper trend seems to have recently swept the UK too.

With more and more people trawling the shops and embracing ugly Christmas jumpers, the trend has grown immensely, with a National Ugly Christmas Jumper holiday even emerging and taking place in December!

10. Seasonal Sandwiches

Just like Christmas coffees, the release of festive-filled Christmas sandwiches are another great way of marking the start of the season in Britain.

Expect to find a mixture of traditional Christmas dinner favourites in your sandwiches. From Turkey and stuffing to brie and cranberry sauces, there has even been the emergence of brussel sprouts Paul’s festive pig baguette!

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Learn about the 10 modern Christmas traditions in the UK. From the John Lewis Christmas adverts to beauty advent calendars, discover them all here!

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