Brits and Americans agree on the main tenets of modern Christmas: it’s a month-long alcoholism free-pass where your parents buy you things you refuse to buy yourself (socks, a practical fleece, novels that don’t have ‘Hilarious! - Glamour’ on the front) and everything, from carrots to coffee, has to be cinnamon flavoured.
But imagine trying to explain Christmas Eastenders to an American. “Oh yeah, after you’ve got the whole family together and given the kids presents and got the timings right on this complex dinner with all the trimmings and there’s finally a festive mood in the air – you gather everyone round the telly and watch a show where people are also having Christmas dinner, but theirs is miserable and dysfunctional with a strong likelihood that someone will get murdered or at the very least die of a terminal illness.”
They would be horrified. Yet Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Trevor shoving Little Mo’s face into her gravy or Max boning his son’s missus. It’s a national tradition. Perhaps there’s something oddly comforting about a big spoonful of misery on the most saccharine day of the year. Any family can put a brave face on when you’re getting presents, but the real test of your mettle is whether you can watch a character you love meet their untimely demise, while your aunty cries and farts at the same time.
So if there are any Americans reading this wondering what British Christmas is about, please watch the following clips and know that we all love the most miserable day of the year.
This article was first published 25 December 2015.