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Christmas in England
Snow at Christmas is deep-seated in British culture, and many long for the likes of the scenes depicted on traditional Christmas cards and in works like Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' or 'Pickwick Papers'.
The interest in snowy Christmases has its origins in the colder climate of the period 1550-1850 when Britain was in the grip of a 'Little Ice Age'. Winters were particularly persistent and severe - 1813/14 was the last winter that a 'frost fair' was held on the River Thames in London.
For most parts of the UK, Christmas comes at the beginning of the season for snow. Wintry weather is more likely early in the deepening cold of January. White Christmases were more frequent in the 18th and 19th centuries, even more so before the change of calendar in 1752 which effectively brought Christmas day back by 12 day
England has only known eight white Christmases in the last 100 odd years. According to the records of the Meteorological Office in London, snow fell on Christmas Day only in 1938,1976 and 2004. (The definition of a white Christmas in England is when one snowflake falls on the roof of the London Weather Centre.).
Trees and Decoration
Ancient, pre-Christian winter festivals used greenery, lights, and fires to symbolize life and warmth in the midst of cold and darkness. The use of evergreens and wreaths as symbols of life was an ancient custom of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews, among other peoples. Tree worship was a common feature of religion among the Teutonic and Scandinavian peoples of northern Europe before their conversion to Christianity. They decorated houses and barns with evergreens at the new year to scare away demons, and they often set up trees for the birds in winter.
The modern Christmas tree seems to have originated in Germany during the Middle Ages. A main prop in a medieval play about Adam and Eve was a fir tree hung with apples. Called the "Paradise tree," it represented the Garden of Eden. German families set up a Paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. On it they hung wafers, symbolizing the bread distributed at the celebration of the holy Eucharist, or communion, in churches. Because the Christmas holiday followed immediately, candles representing Christ as the light of the world were often added to the tree. Eventually cookies and other sweets were hung instead of wafers.
The Christmas tree was introduced into England early in the 19th century, and it was popularized by Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria. The trees were decorated with candles, candies, paper chains, and fancy cakes that were hung from the branches on ribbons. German settlers brought the Christmas tree custom to the American colonies in the 17th century. The use of evergreens for wreaths and other decorations arose in northern Europe. Italy, Spain, and some other nations use flowers instead. Holly, with its prickly leaves and red berries, came into holiday use because it reminded people of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the way to his execution--the berries symbolizing droplets of blood