These are the most loved and hated Christmas traditions

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Nearly six in 10 adults prefer the older UK traditions over more modern ones – with ‘Elf on the Shelf’ the most disliked.

A poll of 2,000 people who celebrate Christmas found 27 per cent loathe Santa’s mischievous little helper, while a fifth turn their nose up at getting new pyjamas for the whole family to wear.

Emailing the big man a wish list, receiving a Christmas Eve box, and keeping tabs on Santa’s sleigh via an online tracker also made the list of most disliked modern rituals.

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However, receiving a stocking, pantomimes, and eating turkey on Christmas day were among the most loved British festive traditions. Visiting a Christmas market, carol singing and leaving milk and cookies out for Santa also made the ‘nice’ list of Christmas activities.

The study also revealed the festive traditions from around that many would like to adopt, including tucking into Japan’s fried chicken dinner and marking ‘little Christmas’ on December 23rd like they do in Norway. Iceland’s tradition of giving a book on Christmas, having a barbecue instead of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings as they do in New Zealand, and enjoying a Christmas Eve sauna in the style of Finland also made the list.

The top 5 most loved traditions revealedThe top 5 most loved traditions revealed
The top 5 most loved traditions revealed | St Pierre

Inspired by cultural traditions

A spokesperson for bakery brand, St Pierre, which commissioned the research, said: “For a lot of families, keeping up with Christmas traditions is an important part of the season and it is what makes this time of year so special. However, there are some modern customs which have made their way into people’s homes over recent years. It’s been interesting to see the nation’s take on these and even more interesting to hear which global dining traditions Brits would most like to adopt.”

When comparing countries, 32 per cent think our festive customs are mostly inspired by other cultures, rather than being original. And 20 per cent even believe certain places are better at celebrating Christmas than we are, with the USA, Germany, and Norway taking the top spots for this. As a result, 30 per cent are keen to spend this magical time of year in another country, with 22 per cent already having done so.

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The study, carried out via OnePoll, found a third enjoy any rituals that involves food or family recipes and 36 per cent claim most of what they do at home revolves around it. But 21 per cent have their own rituals outside of what is considered ‘typical’, with 16 per cent seeing Christmas as the perfect time to start a new tradition - although 24 per cent claim they take part in certain things each year because they feel like they have to.

Nearly half (48 per cent) also admitted they still carry out some of their family heritages they experienced as a child.

A spokesperson for St Pierre added: “It’s great to see food coming in as the number one thing people most enjoy about Christmas – and it’s no wonder as not only is it the perfect time to indulge but it’s also a special time for making memories. Food is more than a meal on your plate; it’s the nostalgia of growing up, the family recipes that come out once a year and a wonderful way to bring people together – no matter where we are in the world.”

Top 15 best loved older traditions

  1. Christmas trees
  2. Eating turkey on Christmas day
  3. Mince pies
  4. Christmas cards
  5. Christmas markets
  6. Crackers (with prizes in)
  7. Having a stocking
  8. Carol singing
  9. Chocolate Yule logs
  10. Leaving milk and cookies for Santa
  11. Christmas pantomimes
  12. The King’s speech
  13. Lighting a Christmas pudding
  14. Chocolate coins in your stocking
  15. Visiting Santa’s grotto

Top 5 most disliked modern traditions

  1. Elf on the Shelf
  2. Getting new pyjamas for the whole family to wear
  3. Emailing Santa a wish list
  4. Christmas Eve box
  5. Online Santa tracker

Top 20 worldwide Christmas traditions people would most like to try

  1. 'Jolabokaflod'. It translates into "Christmas Book Flood", which involves giving or receiving new books on Christmas Eve - Iceland
  2. Christmas day barbecue – New Zealand
  3. A Christmas Eve sauna session – Finland
  4. Making your own advent calendars – Switzerland
  5. Celebrating ‘little Christmas’ on December 23rd with your own family rituals – Norway
  6. Dancing around your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – Denmark
  7. A baked ham decorated with pineapple and sorrel glazes – Barbados
  8. Eating a special meal at midnight on Christmas eve – France
  9. Firework displays on 24th and 25th December – El Salvador
  10. Eating fried chicken on Christmas day – Japan
  11. Visiting neighbours with festive food on New Year’s Day – Martinique
  12. Having a Pohutukawa tree (blooms bright red in December) – New Zealand
  13. Getting a postcard back from Father Christmas – France
  14. Exchanging gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve – Brazil / Portugal
  15. Leaving shoes by the fireplace on 5th December to find sweets in them the next day – Germany
  16. Leaving a shoe by the chimney to find treats inside on Christmas – The Netherlands
  17. The Yule Goat, when a giant straw goat is erected in towns and cities to mark the beginning of the season – Sweden
  18. The ‘pooping log’ - a log with a smiley face which gets looked after by children in the lead up to Christmas, before smacking it with a stick and singing on Christmas Eve to reveal treats located at its rear end – Catalonia, Barcelona
  19. A family ‘cookout’ called ‘braaing’ – South Africa
  20. Finding a hidden almond in the porridge – Finland
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