This is our second Christmas in England and we are loving experiencing the different ways Christmas is celebrated here. In England Santa Claus is called Father Christmas. An interesting fact I found out was before the 1880's Father Christmas in England was dressed in a green coat which was a sign of returning spring. Now however he is usually found wearing a red coat.
So where do you find Father Christmas? Not at the malls like you do in the states but in his Grotto which is located in the Garden Centers. It took us a while to find him! Garden centers are very different from the ones in the states. In addition to selling garden supplies you will find art-n-crafts, house hold decorations, books and toys. But best of all Garden Centers almost always have a cafe, where you can find special coffees, teas, pastries and a very good hot lunch. Shopping in England is a whole different experience than shopping in the states:).
Now we have been to 2 different Grotto's and found the experience to be very different at each one. Last year Father Christmas Grotto was filled from floor to ceiling with various toys for all ages. After a child's visit with Father Christmas, they are able to pick a toy and take it home. This can be quite an experience if you have a indecisive child, as the room full of toys is overwhelming:). Of course parents you pay for this as most Garden centers charge you to see Santa in his Grotto.
This year I found a Father Christmas Grotto in London and it was free, except for the photo, and the kids were given a candy cane.
Another difference is children are not allowed to sit on Father Christmas lap. It is a child safety regulation:(. The boxes on either side of Father Christmas is where the child sits, next to Father Christmas. Last year we didn't know of that regulation and it wasn't pointed out to us, but this year it was!