A baby’s first Christmas is always special and full of many new traditions. But when you’re a member of the British royal family, there are lots of traditions already in place for you to follow. So here are five traditions sweet baby George can expect this Christmas—and every Christmas after.
1. Burning letters to Father Christmas
When Prince George is old enough to write, he will be like many other children, who write a letter to Santa Claus about what they want for Christmas. But George won’t be mailing his letter to the North Pole. Instead, British children burn the letter in the fireplace so that Father Christmas can read the smoke that comes out of the chimney. Hopefully Kensington Palace has a chimney!
2. Silly presents
What do you get for a family that has access to the Crown Jewels? Apparently anything silly. It’s a royal tradition that everyone buys each other inexpensive joke gifts that are opened around tea time on Christmas Eve. Maybe Prince George will get a book of nursery rhymes, including “Georgie Porgie.” Though according to recent reports, his mom bought him some cute new outfits with the Union Jack and the Queen’s guard on them. The future king needs to show off his British pride, even when he’s barely six-months old.
3. Happy Christmas from Father Christmas
Little Prince George isn’t old enough to talk, but once he is, he will be wishing everyone a “Happy Christmas.” This may sound odd to us since most North Americans say “Merry Christmas.” But the U.K. says “Happy Christmas.” They also don’t have Santa Claus, they have Father Christmas. The British “Father Christmas” dates back to the 17th century and wore green, not red. But Santa Claus actually dates back even earlier than that, to a 3rd century saint named Nicholas. Saint Nic was a bishop who brought bags of gold coins so a father could afford to marry off his daughters. Depending on which story you read, Saint Nicholas either left the gold coins in each of the daughters’ stockings or dropped the bag down the chimney. Prince George doesn’t really need a bag of gold coins, so maybe he is hoping for a Sophie the Giraffe to help stop his screaming.
4. A special message from great-granny
Like most people living in the U.K., the royal family gathers around the TV at 3pm on Christmas day to listen to the Queen’s annual Christmas message. I suspect this year she will talk about the excitement of welcoming the next heir to the throne. Prince George should be taking notes every year on his great granny’s broadcast because one day it will be his Christmas message everyone is watching.
5. The Boxing Day hunt
While many Canadians will be hitting the mall for all the Boxing Day sales, the royal family will be heading out for a pheasant shoot. The royals spend the holidays at the Queen’s Norfolk estate, Sandringham, where the Queen and Prince Philip spend their winter break. It’s tradition that the whole family puts on their wellies and grabs their guns for a day of shooting. I can already imagine little George in his Barbour coat and fur hat, learning the art of hunting.
What Christmas traditions do you have in your family?
Photo courtesy of Keystone Press