The British Christmas Dinner

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Christmas is celebrated in a number of countries and often in different ways. In the UK it is celebrated over 3 days – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Christmas Eve is the 24th of December, Christmas Day which is the main day of celebration is the 25th and Boxing Day is the 26th. Boxing was traditionally the day to open presents but this is no longer common and presents are opened on the 25th.

One of the main points of celebration on the 25th is the traditional Christmas Dinner. For many, this is the highlight of the whole festive season. Knowing what the dinner involves can be important if you are going to be living or working in the UK or with people from the UK so here is our guide to everything you need to know about a British Christmas Dinner.

What Time is it Served?

In the UK the word Dinner is a difficult one. For some people, it means a meal in the evening, but when talking about a Sunday Roast type meal it is called dinner but served at lunchtime. The actual time served varies but it is normally around 1.00pm however Christmas Dinner can be as late as 3.00pm or later.

Main Course

As a meal, it is similar to a Sunday Roast however the meat is traditionally Roasted Turkey. This is meat rarely eaten at other times of the year in the UK. The meat is served with roasted root vegetables like Parsnips and Potatoes. Added to these are boiled carrots, cabbage and brussel sprouts (see below). Alongside these main vegetables can sit a range of other foods from braised red cabbage and something called cauliflower cheese. As well as the Turkey it is traditional to serve pork sausages wrapped in bacon (called pigs in blankets) and roasted as well as something called stuffing. Stuffing is made of herbs, sausage meat and breadcrumbs mixed together and then traditionally stuff inside the turkey during roasting and sliced onto the plate. On top of all of this food, it is very common to pour a liquid gravy which is a meat based sauce and cranberry sauce which tastes great with turkey.


The traditional sweet food at the end of the meal is called Christmas Pudding. This is a very heavy and dark fruit pudding. It is made up of a wide range of dried fruits as well as brandy and sometimes other types of alcohol. It can be eaten with cream or a white sauce made from brandy. It is not eaten at any other times of the year and is a very strong tasting dessert.

Brussel Sprouts

This vegetable needs a special discussion because it is something a lot of people may talk about. It is a vegetable much like a very small cabbage and is really only ever eaten at Christmas. For many people, it is something they really do not enjoy but eat because it is tradition. For others, it is something they look forward too. It is something that is often said to cause bad gas when eaten and it is used in humour a great deal. If you are invited to enjoy a Christmas dinner in the UK or with people from the UK you must try a sprout!



Alongside all of the food, there is another traditional item called a cracker. This is a cardboard tube that is decorated in bright shiny colours. Inside there is a small tape that makes a bang sound when the cracker is pulled apart. It is traditional to take one end of the cracker and offer the other to someone sitting near you. You both pull and the cracked breaks in two pieces with a loud bang. These crackers contain written jokes, small gifts and party hats that are then worn throughout the meal.