The weeks are flying by and Christmas is just around the corner but have you ever wondered where some of our favourite traditions came from? One more recent tradition we all look forward to is the Ambleside Christmas Lights event which this year takes place on Saturday 18th November. Santa will arrive not by his traditional sleigh but by steamer across Windermere Lake, although he will revert back to his usual mode of transport once he arrives in Ambleside. There then follows a lantern procession followed by a fantastic firework display to officially celebrate the start to the Christmas countdown.

Here are a few of our favourite traditions and how they came about

Christmas cards

We all love receiving and sending cards, nothing says Christmas is on it’s way than sitting down with your glass of wine and Christmas songs to write your cards. There wasn’t much festive spirit on the minds of the then Public Records Office (now the Post Office) when they introduced them in 1843 as a way to encourage people to use their services and boost business. By 1900 the tradition had caught on throughout Europe and we were all busy sending Christmas cards.

Mince pies

You can never eat too many mince pies, although it’s probably a good thing we only scoff them at Christmas. There’s nothing better than a homemade one with a big dollop of cream! Early mince pies actually included meat in them along with other fruits and spices thanks to Middle Eastern cuisine influences brought back by the Crusaders. Commonly they had 13 ingredients and were an oval shape, thankfully by Victorian times the meat had disappeared and they more closely resembled the mince pies we munch through today.


The excitement begins on Christmas morning when you jump out of bed to see what Santa has left in your stocking! This tradition goes back St Nicholas, or the Gift Giver as he was also named, when he once dropped bags of gold down the chimney of a poor man who had no dowry for his unmarried daughters. The gold fell into the stockings he had left hanging to dry and the tradition was born. Unfortunately the only gold you are likely to get now in your stocking is the foil wrapped chocolate coins.

Christmas crackers

Christmas dinner isn’t complete without a few bangs, dodgy jokes and the obligatory paper hat that never fits properly and ends up floating in your gravy. London sweet maker, Tom Smith, can be credited with the invention of the Christmas cracker back in the late 1840’s. Inspired by paper-wrapped French bonbons they didn’t actuallybecome popular until he added the ‘bang’ when you pulled them.

Christmas pudding

A Christmas tradition we definitely couldn’t live without and one we always find room for even after a monster sized portion of Christmas dinner. The pudding can be traced right back to the Middle Ages but it wasn’t until the mid 17th century when it evolved into the dessert more recognisable of today with dried fruit and alcohol. Plum pudding was favoured by the Victorians and was traditionally made a week before Advent, known as ‘Stir up Sunday’.

Why not join us for the annual Ambleside lights event, it’s a great weekend full of festive fun and Christmassy magic.


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