There is nowhere more inviting to spend the Christmas season than in the countryside. The quintessential cosy fireside, a welcoming country pub and the wintery beauty of the rural landscape are idyllic images that will adorn many of the Christmas cards we send this year.
In villages and rural towns up and down the country, you will find dedicated carol singers, wrapped up in thick winter coats, hats and gloves, often raising money for charity and drawing the community together, reminding us of the traditional importance of community spirit and charity during the winter months.
Traditionally at Christmas we celebrate life in the darkness by bringing Christmas trees, holly branches, ivy and mistletoe into the house as decoration. Stealing a quick kiss under the mistletoe is one of the few old English traditions to have thrived in the modern day. For many, the 'real' Christmas tree represents an idyllic Christmas in a luxurious country house or homely farmhouse. It is the focal point of the family celebrations; bringing young and old together to decorate it, having delicious mini treats hung from its branches and being the place where the family gather to open presents.
Of course no family Christmas would be complete without some boldly patterned knitwear, a splash of tartan or audacious animal motifs and, with British country style back in fashion, there will likely be many examples of the 'Christmas jumper' this festive season!
Making the most of the hearty winter fare available, a country Christmas dinner may include goose, pheasant or game pie, with a traditional Christmas pudding. With the family all eagerly gathered at the table, the man of the house will face his most stressful task of the year; attempting to carve the Christmas meat, without making a meal of it!
After all that gorging on wholesome country cuisine, a leisurely Christmas afternoon walk with the family is still a popular activity in rural communities. Donning a 'best' thick winter coat and comfy wellington boots, this provides a great opportunity to chat with neighbours and to savour the peace and tranquillity of the rural landscape after all the mayhem of preparing for the big day.
Boxing Day brings a more steady pace and many people will unwind by heading out for a relaxing horse ride or meeting for lunchtime drinks at a country pub.