White Christmas is likely in many parts of Britain according to bookies

Many Brits could wake up on Sunday to a classic white Christmas, according to the bookies.

The definition of a white Christmas is snowfall on any major UK city on December 25.

Leading bookmaker Coral makes the odds for at least a few flakes of snow on Christmas Day as short as 1/3.

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Coral is also offering odds on exactly which cities in the UK will see snow. Edinburgh is 4/5, Newcastle can be backed at evens, while London is 2/1.

"Our odds suggest there is a 75% chance of us having a White Christmas next week," said Coral's John Hill.

"Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle are the most likely cities to get snow, however, we are not ruling out the white stuff coming down in London and Southampton," he added.

The Met Office says that White Christmases were much more frequent in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly before the change of calendar in 1752 which effectively moved Christmas Day by 12 days.

In recent years, climate change has brought higher average temperatures over land and sea and this generally reduced the chances of a white Christmas.

The forecaster has declared an official white Christmas for around half of the years since 1960.

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However, the classic Christmas card scene of widespread snow settling on the ground on Christmas Day is much rarer.

There has only been a widespread covering of snow on the ground (where more than 40% of stations in the UK reported snow on the ground at 9am) four times since 1960 – in 1981, 1995, 2009 and 2010.

During the particularly cold climate of the period 1550-1850 when Britain was in the grip of what was called the “Little Ice Age,” winters were particularly persistent and severe.

The last “frost fair,” when enough ice formed on the Thames for people to safely walk across the river, took place in 1814.

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