The Queen's royal Christmas tradition stems from her family's German heritage

The Royals have an interesting Christmas tradition that pays tribute to their German heritage

Royal Christmas tradition
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

There is a particular royal Christmas tradition that is followed by the royal family every year at Christmas. It pays tribute to the Queen's German ancestors including Queen Victoria. 


For most people in the UK and the US, the morning of December 25 is the time when we wake up to open our presents.

The royals, however, follow a slightly different tradition that means that they get to open their Christmas presents a little bit earlier than the rest of us.

It's been revealed that the royals choose to open their Christmas presents on the evening of Christmas Eve, which is in keeping with a German tradition adopted by the family more than 100 years ago.

Royal expert, Robert Jobson revealed to the Express that this tradition was introduced by Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century when Prince Albert insisted on maintaining the German celebration in the UK.

“On Christmas Eve when all the clan is together, the Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren put the finishing touches to the 20ft Christmas tree in the White Drawing Room," began Robert.

“Presents will be opened that day at tea time as the royals still keep to the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve."

“Gifts are laid out in the Red Drawing Room on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put,” said the expert.

In Germany, Christmas gifts are traditionally opened on Christmas Eve on December 24 rather than December 25 because of an event titled 'Heiligabend Bescherung.'

The phrase translates to 'Christmas Eve gift-giving,' and is an event that's celebrated in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This is because in these countries they celebrate the holy night or 'Heilige Nacht' which is the night from December 24 to December 25.

Queen Christmas

(Image credit: WPA Pool / Pool / Getty Images)

After the royals have exchanged gifts at teatime they then have a black-tie festive feast where they get dressed up in evening gowns and suits.

This isn't the only festive feast though as the very next day after they've made their Christmas Day appearance at St Mary Magdalene Church, they head back to Sandringham House for a traditional Turkey lunch with all the trimmings.

The royal family will be opening their gifts at Sandringham House this year on Christmas Eve. The Queen's Christmas 2021 plans will see her host a royal Christmas party at Windsor Castle before flying via helicopter to Norfolk for the remainder of the festive season.

Laura Harman
Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


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