British Panto

During my second year in England, while studying for my French A levels, I also worked at a major department store. Working there gave me some great insight into British holiday traditions.

It was at their Christmas party (and yes, it was called a Christmas party) that I was introduced to mince pies.

Mince Pie

I’d heard of minced meat pies in the States, but I thought those had actual meat in them and steered clear. I didn’t know what I was missing out on! These delightful morsels are still a holiday favorite of mine – thank goodness for World Market.

An even more noteworthy intro was to pantomime theatre. Being American, pantomime is what mimes did – those guys that pretend to get stuck in invisible shrinking boxes.


(I love that there is a website where mimes advertise their services!)

In England, pantomime (aka Panto) is a type of an interactive stage production, basically family musical theatre.

The department store sponsored the local panto show and thus received tickets to give to employees. Although the notice specified priority was for staff with kids, I went in and asked for a single ticket. They looked at me not believing¬†that I’d never heard of, much less attended, a panto play. Then suddenly the manager said, “It’s behind you.” I turned to look, an action I found out later proved I’d never gone before. I walked out with the ticket.

It's Behind You

The performance was rather silly with lots of fluids being dropped down on performers.

Panto milk scene

It was a delight to experience it for the first time along with a bunch of kids. Unlike me, most of them knew what they were supposed to call out. Obviously this was not their first panto.

On my way home, there was a vendor selling freshly roasted chestnuts – another first for me. I dug that pound out of my pocket and handed it over. That was another treat to remember.

Has anyone else ever gone to a panto show? or What other country’s traditions have you experienced?

2 thoughts on “British Panto”

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