TRADITIONS: WHY DO WE SERVE UP TURKEY AND MINCE PIES FOR CHRISTMAS?

The way we celebrate Christmas has undergone many transformations from generation to generation, from a rambunctious medieval feast to a sumptuous sugar banquet under Queen Elizabeth I and finally emerging as the Christmas we know today in the Victorian era. It was during this historical period that the UK had its very first Christmas tree, turkey lunch, and the meat filling of our beloved mince pies was replaced with fruits, suet and spices.

From decorating the Christmas tree (54%) to tucking into turkey and trimmings (49%) and mince pies (43%) on Christmas Day, the UK is still steeped in these Victorian traditions. Other Yuletide rituals that remain as popular as ever in homes across the country include eating Christmas cake and Christmas pudding (39%), Boxing Day buffets (28%) and putting out all the treats for Santa on Christmas Eve (23%).

Indeed, 92% of us think such rituals are important with 89% planning on sticking to these customs for generations to come, according to new research from Co-op. 

However, while long-standing Christmas conventions remain sacrosanct, the new seasonal festivities of playing Elf of the Shelf (11%) and eating turkey curry are proving more popular than putting oranges or coal in stockings, or making gingerbread houses (7%).

The mince pie is one festive treat that has stood the test of time with 63% of adults saying they like them – hot with a generous dollop of cream is officially the nation’s favourite way to serve mince pies.

Although many of us practice and place importance on such traditions, 42% of us admit we are unaware as to how some of our favourite food-related traditions came to be associated with the festive season. Amazingly, 75% of us are left bewildered and discombobulated by the origins of Brussel sprouts and the same percentage is left puzzled and perplexed by the origins of mince pies, with a third unaware of the ingredients. 

While understanding the traditions of Christmas past and present, it’s only fitting we try to understand what will matter most in the future. The UK believes traditions will continue to evolve with the introduction of more vegan options (34%) and healthier ingredients (32%).