3 Historical London Christmas Traditions that I love

It’s the most beautiful time of the year! This year the festive season is going to be starkly different but some traditions will still continue in London, and here are three of them that I love ticking off my list every year.

Seeing the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square

 

Since 1947, every year a large Christmas tree has been placed in Trafalgar Square as an annual present from Norway, in particular, the city of Oslo in recognition of the help that Britain gave to Norway during the second world war.

Norway was occupied by the Germans in 1940, forcing King Haakon VII to flee to London where he set up a government-in-exile.

The tree is a long-running thank-you from Norway. This year it will be lit up on December 3.

Street lights and decorations

Did you know that Regent Street kicked off the festive decorations tradition in the 1880s? However, it only became a regular occurrence from 1948 when the Regent Street Association (RSA — the organisation that represents the interests of the retailers, restaurants and offices in the area) decorated the street with trees.

Lights followed on Regent Street in 1954, and Oxford Street got its Christmas lights in 1959.

Now many central London streets also have their own lights, and I love visiting every year to see what they are.

Did you know that on Regent Street this year there are 45 handcrafted spirits, making up the capital’s largest light installation!

These days shops also have pretty facades and I love seeing the creativity and flair with each one!

Christmas window displays in Oxford Street

Another favourite festive tradition of mine is to walk the length of Oxford Street to see the various window displays in the department stores.

Extravagant and elaborate window displays at Christmas time have been a tradition at Selfridges since 1909, when the founder Henry Selfridge first lit the shop windows at night for passers by to see goods on sale.

This year’s display has been created using recycled materials and green electricity to lower their environmental impact.

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About Binny

Hi, I'm Binny - a writer, dreamer and serial wanderluster with a love for Wildlife Conservation. I am originally from Kenya but I now live in London. 'Karibu' to Binny's Food and Travel! I regularly share my experiences eating out, cooking and travelling, both in the UK and globally, as well as educate on the plight of Wildlife. I am an ambassador for World Animal Protection and regularly support the work of The Born Free Foundation, Four Paws and Dreams Come True Charity. I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way. It's my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible!

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7 Comments

  1. lovely post, nice way to step into the festive season. Love the story behind the tree, the fact it comes from a tradition of friendship and support really brings it back to the spirit of Christmas.

    Posted 12.1.20 Reply
  2. Emma wrote:

    You absolutely cannot beat London at Christmas, it’s just magical!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  3. I have to say London is one of my favourite places at Christmas time, I love the twinkly window shopping!

    Posted 12.4.20 Reply
  4. I love the oversized London lights and decorations at Christmas (especially the decadent glamour of Fortnum and Masons)! So sorry to be missing them this year. Interesting to read about the history behind Trafalgar’s tree.

    Posted 12.4.20 Reply
  5. Jo wrote:

    We always used to go to London to see the lights as kids. Fond memories.

    Posted 12.4.20 Reply
  6. I love these traditions!

    Posted 12.6.20 Reply
  7. I’ve so missed visiting London this year! We should have been there last weekend celebrating our wedding anniversary with afternoon tea at the Shard, and drinking our way down the Bermondsey Beer Mile 🙁 Thank you for the reminder of some of my favourite things about festive London x

    Posted 12.6.20 Reply
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