Past in pictures: Christmas traditions

By Rosemary Collins, 15 November 2017 - 4:11pm

Many towns and regions in Britain have developed unique traditions to celebrate Christmas. We take a look at the best pictures of bygone festive seasons…

Home Front feast

Workers at Brock's Fireworks
Families traditionally bought a goose or a turkey at their local Christmas market for their festive meal. This woman has created a snowstorm of flying feathers by plucking geese on her Gloucestershire farm. The photograph was taken in 1941. (Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

 

Mistletoe and masks

Nurses with a guy
A kiss under the mistletoe has always been a traditional part of Christmas. But it's hard to do in gas masks, as a couple from 1940 show. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

 

Boar's Head Banquet

Mischa Black with an effigy of his head
The tradition of the Boar's Head Banquet - a medieval feast where a boar's head takes pride of place - dates back to medieval times. This picture shows the boar's head being carried in by procession at a 1934 feast in Cutlers' Hall, London. (H. Allen/ Topical Press Agency/ Getty Images)

 

Happy New Year

A toddler puts the finishing touches to a guy
Crowds gather outside St Paul's Cathedral on New Year's Eve to celebrate the start of 1903. From the book Living London, Vol III. (The Print Collector/ Getty Images)

 

Here we come a-wassailing

A Guy Fawkes' parade in 1876
In cider country, in the West of England, villagers observe the Twelfth Night tradition of wassailing, where they drink and sing to ensure a good apple harvest. This picture from 1931 shows a group of wassailers about to bless an orchard in Somerset. (Fox Photos/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

 

The Haxey Hood Game

Little boy and dog with a guy
On 6 January villagers in Haxey, Lincs, vie to win the ‘Hood’ – a roll of leather – for one of four pubs. This 1928 photo shows boys with their own ‘Hoods’. (Fox Photos/ Getty Images)

 

Tall order

Boys build a bonfire
A young boy struggles as he carries a Christmas tree home from Spitalfields Market, East London, in 1946. (Monty Fresco/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images)

 

Paper procession

A bonfire, 1912
Every year on Boxing Day, the Marshfield Paper Boys process through their Gloucestershire village and perform a traditional mummers’ play. This photo is from 1900. (Francois Le Diascorn/ Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

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