Boxing Day & Mince Pies? Welcome to the UK.

I have to tell you, aside from my family & friends, gingerbread is one of the things that I miss the most about the holidays at home. The smell of gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses incites the sense of Christmastime for me. I always bake my own cookies at home, with extra spice, just the way that I like them.

Mmmm…. Icing is as bit overrated for me, but I do usually decorate them when I’m giving them out as gifts. Sadly, I hit up my local Marks & Spencer in Covent Garden on Christmas Eve to find some goodies to make gingerbread: a box of mix, molasses, anything that could potentially be made into a wonderful boy-shaped biscuit of ginger. The sad truth hit me very quickly: Brits don’t like their gingerbread like Americans do. In lieu of gingerbread, the store was teeming with mince pies. Now, call me an idiot (or an ignorant American, perhaps), but I thought mincemeat (which is used in mince pies) was actually meat. That doesn’t seem illogical, does it? I assumed that mincemeat was something that was used in a savory pie; lamb, perhaps. I was hugely surprised, however, to discover that mince pies, and the mincemeat inside, are 100% vegetarian! They’re not meat at all! In fact, it’s a mix of sultanas (golden raisins), raisins, sugar  and some other sweet and spicy goodies. After this mind-boggling discovery, I decided to change my tradition for this year and prepare homemade mince pies instead of gingerbread cookies! Calling them ‘homemade’ might be a bit of a stretch considering I bought canned mincemeat and boxed mini tartlets to act as the pie crust… for the sake of argument, we’ll call them ‘semi-homemade’ (taking a page out of Sandra Lee’s cookbook, I guess).

Mince pie-making, along with a healthy dose of Christmas music, definitely helped to get me in the spirit of the holidays. I also had a two-hour Skype session with my family! Thank goodness for the amazingness of Skype; it felt like I was actually there — I got to talk with them during breakfast and be there to watch them open gifts.

After that interesting version of Christmas, today marks Boxing Day in the UK. We simply call it ‘the day after Christmas’ in the US, but here it’s an officially recognized holiday complete with Black Friday-style sales and movie premiers! In honor of Boxing Day, I’m going to try to hit up Sherlock Holmes at the Odeon in Leicester Square! Seeing as how it was filmed in London, it seems fitting that I would spend a British holiday watching a British movie about a British character. All in a day’s fun.

In other news, I have officially re-started the “getting Shannon’s groove back” phase. Daily gym sessions, sunless tanning and healthy eating are on the menu for this beautification process. I have actually booked group workout sessions at the gym (pilates, yoga, boxing, etc.) to add to my normal workout sessions to ensure that I get to the gym as planned. I guess we can call it the pre-New Year’s Resolution!

Hope everyone’s holiday was great and full of gingerbready goodness!

Lots of love on Boxing Day,


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