Social Network
'I was shocked': British woman living in America can’t believe these traditions didn’t migrate
December 24 2023, 08:00

A British woman was shocked at how different Christmas in America is after moving from England, saying she prefers the traditions in her home country.

"I must have been really naive when I came here because I was expecting that there would at least be some things that would have carried to America," Millie Hart told Fox News. "Out of all the things I love here, Christmas probably just isn't one of them."

Hart was born and raised in Walsall, a small town in the West Midland area of England. A few years ago, she met Mark Hart online. After the Ohio native made a few visits, the couple married, and she and her son moved to the U.S. Now, the couple lives in Ohio with their kids. 


Hart had her first American Christmas just weeks after moving in 2021 and was surprised at how foreign the customs were. 

Hart said she was in awe at how "over the top" everything was, like the number of holiday activities in schools, hearing Christmas music wherever she went and the impressive light displays decorating people’s homes, which are "so uncommon" in England. 

"We decorate, we put wreaths on our door and some lights out, but we wouldn't drive around looking for Christmas lights because nobody does that," she said. "We don’t have the space."

Though festive, traditions Hart was accustomed to back home were missing from Christmas, most importantly the food. 

"I was so shocked to find out that not one single thing that we eat over Christmas in England is on the shelves," she told Fox News.

Mince pie is "one of the biggest traditions" and a symbol of Christmas in England, Millie said. Instead of cookies, kids leave out the fruit-based dessert for Santa. 

"If you walk in any shop in England for Christmas, they're everywhere," she said. "It feels so weird not seeing it."


She quickly realized many Americans don’t have a traditional Christmas dinner where they sit down, pop Christmas crackers and wear paper crowns. She missed the food she and most other Brits grew up eating on Christmas, like turkey, Yorkshire pudding, trifle and "a couple glasses of Baileys." 

"I was so upset that first Christmas that I didn't have those," Hart said. "And I know for many people that's like first world problems, but when you're away from everything you've ever known — I was like, 'No, I can't do this.'"

"I cried to my mom on the phone over a Christmas cracker," she added.

This year will be Hart’s third Christmas in the U.S., and while the culture shock has worn off, she still prefers the British way of celebrating.


Though "the build-up to Christmas in America is a lot better," said Hart, "the actual Christmas Day, for me, is much better at home."

She suspects the British celebrate harder on Christmas because Dec. 26 is Boxing Day, one of England's biggest national holidays, which people often spend winding down with family before returning to work. But Hart said Americans seem to celebrate more on Christmas Eve, with big gatherings and late nights, then have a quieter Christmas Day to finish out the holiday. 

"You're not going to work, there's no way I can sit here on my own on Boxing Day," Hart recalled telling her husband the day after their first Christmas together.

She said Thanksgiving dinner in America is a better reflection of Christmas in England. 

"I think our Christmas is your Thanksgiving," Hart said. 

From now on, Hart said her family will always wear paper crowns, pop Christmas crackers and have a proper English dinner on Christmas.

"I completely embraced Thanksgiving," she said. "So if I'm going to completely do an American holiday, we’ve agreed that Christmas will be more my side." 

Hart said she and her husband plan to spend next Christmas in England.

"Especially for my son, I don't want him to lose that culture because, at the end of the day, he's English," she said. "He's so Americanized already, I at least want him to grow up and just have a little bit of his mom, even if that's a pie."