German dating traditions
London's first Santa's grotto in was reportedly at JR Roberts Stores in Stratford in 1888.By contrast, Father Christmas made his first known appearance in Harrods in 1908.By the mid-1960s there were hardly any Christmas Day public transport services.London Transport held out for a few more years, with the tube running on 25 December for the last time in 1979.The great tradition of a Smithfield Market butcher auctioning off whatever he has left prior to Christmas take place every Christmas Eve morning (the sign announcing it remains up all year for some reason).Throngs tussle for the chance to pick up a quality cut of meat at a bargain price, or even for free if you win the coin toss!The annual 100-yard Christmas Day swim was first swum in 1864, and in 1904 the author JM Barrie donated a trophy, the Peter Pan Cup, to be awarded to the winner.Due to the risks involved in plunging into near-freezing water, this is not an event you can just turn up and take part in; the race is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club who swim in said body of water year-round.
Many of London's churches host carol services in the run-up to Christmas, at lunchtimes as well as in the evenings, while St Martin-in-the-Fields has a full programme of Christmas concerts, some dates selling out months in advance.The Oxford Street store's famous Christmas windows, an annual tradition dating back over 100 years, usually follows in October.We can also thank Harry Gordon Selfridge for the phrase ' shopping days until Christmas', although the idea of shopping for Christmas presents had established itself in London in the 1870s.The homeless charity Crisis was set up in December 1967 to raise awareness of homelessness — originally in the East End, but it now covers the whole country. Christmas shelters opened in London in 1972 and have offered warmth, food and services such as dentistry and healthcare to homeless people over the festive period ever since.Christmas comes early to some places, but Selfridges wins the prize, having opened its Christmas store on 1st August — apparently the earliest Christmas opening in the world this year.
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This is in complete contrast with other major cities: in Berlin, New York, Paris, Rome and Toronto (to name but five), public transport services run on Christmas Day, albeit with a reduced timetable.