Why King Charles will open his presents on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day

King Charles likes to open his Christmas gifts on the eve on the 24th December

King Charles will carry on this Christmas Eve tradition
(Image credit: Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

King Charles is set to carry on the Christmas traditions of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II. According to reports, Charles and the Royal Family will spend the holidays at Sandringham, the Norfolk estate where the Queen had the family congregate for the festivities. Another tradition Charles will uphold involves opening presents on Christmas Eve, something which dates all the way back to his German heritage.


While the Royal Family do Christmas like many families – traditional Christmas dinners, going to church, spending time together over Boxing Day and through the holidays – they also have some unusual customs that haven’t quite caught on.

One such tradition which Charles will reportedly continue this year is the exchanging of gifts on Christmas Eve, December 24.

While most other people wake up early on Christmas Day to check if Santa has been, the royals swap gifts the night before in a nod to tradition.

The royals will swap gifts on December 24 as a nod to tradition

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Heiligabend Bescherung is the term for why, but essentially it’s just a German term for the day they swap presents, which is December 24.

The royals have been doing this for nearly two centuries, going back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The royals famously swap mostly comical gifts, opting to not go too lavish. In fact, it’s rumored that the funnier the gift, the better. If not comical, practical gifts, like Kate Middleton’s frugal first gift for the Queen, are thought to be popular.

The Royals love sticking to their traditions at Christmas, including the famous Sandringham walkabout

(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Charles is also known to be something of a thoughtful gift giver to those who work for the family.

Former Royal butler Grant Harrold recounted the Christmases he spent with the family to Slingo (opens in new tab).

He said, “I’m pleased to say there were no scrooges. They are all Christmas oriented from what I saw. I used to get gifts from King Charles and he once gave me China cups and beautiful glass tumblers.”

Besides these thoughtful “bits and pieces” Charles would also “give all sorts of things”, in a nod to his sometimes eccentric ways.

Grant explains, “One year I got a tin of salmon. It was funny little things, but maybe something where he’d thought, ‘Oh, Grant may like that.’”

Charles is a thoughtful gift giver, but he's also known to give some odd choices

(Image credit: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It’s not just the gift swapping on December 24 which can be traced back to the royals’ German ancestry.

The very tradition of Christmas trees in the royal household dates back to George III and his German wife, Queen Charlotte. It was she who introduced a German-themed Christmas back in the early 1800s, which included the introduction of the yew tree (the first royal Christmas tree) to Windsor Castle, in homage to German custom.

In 1848, Queen Victoria cemented the symbol of the Christmas tree with a portrait of the family gathered around their festive fir at Windsor Castle.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.


Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.