. Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

Hall had become casualty of the air-raids (in 1941), and was gutted.


Halloween means "holy evening" and takes place on October 31st.

Although it is much more important festival in the USA than in Britain,

it is celebrated by many people in the United Kingdom. It is particularly

connected with witches and ghosts.

At parties people dress up in strange costumes and pretend they are

witches. They cut horrible faces in potatoes and other vegetables and put

candle inside, which shines through their eyes. People play different games

such as trying to eat an apple from bucket of water without using their


In recent years children dressed in white sheets knock on doors at

Halloween and ask if you would like trick or treat. If you give them

something nice, treat, they go away. However, if you dont, they play

trick on you, such as making lot of noise or spilling flour on your

front doorstep.


Guy Fawkes Night is one of the most popular festivals in Great

Britain. It commemorates the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot, and

is widely celebrated throughout the country. Below, the reader will find

the necessary information concerning the Plot, which, as he will see, may

never have existed, and the description of the traditional celebrations.

Gunpowder Plot. Conspiracy to destroy the English Houses of Parliament

and King James I when the latter opened Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605.

Engineered by group of Roman Catholics as protest against anti-Papist

measures. In May 1604 the conspirators rented house adjoining the House

of Lords, from which they dug tunnel to vault below that house, where

they stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. It was planned that when king and

parliament were destroyed the Roman Catholics should attempt to seize

power. Preparations for the plot had been completed when, on October 26,

one of the conspirators wrote to kinsman, Lord Monteagle, warning

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

him to stay away from the House of Lords. On November 4 search was made

of the parliament vaults, and the gunpowder was found, together with Guy

Fawkes (1570 1606), an English Roman Catholic in the pay of Spain (which

was making political capital out of Roman Catholics discontent in England).

Fawkes had been commissioned to set off the explosion. Arrested and

tortured he revealed the names of the conspirators, some of whom were

killed resisting arrest. Fawkes was hanged. Detection of the plot led to

increased repression of English Roman Catholics. The Plot is still

commemorated by an official ceremonial search of the vaults before the

annual opening of Parliament, also by the burning of Fawkes's effigy and

the explosion of fireworks every Nov. 5.

Thanksgiving Day

Every year, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Families and friends get

together for a big feast. It is a legal holiday in the US. Many people go

to church in the morning and at home they have a big dinner with turkey.

People gather to give the God thanks for all the good things in their


Thanksgiving is the harvest festival. The celebration was held in 1621

after the first harvest in New England. In the end of 1620 the passengers

from the Mayflower landed in America and started settling there. Only half

of the people survived the terrible winter. In spring the Indians gave the

settlers some seeds of Indian corn and the first harvest was very good.

Later, Thanksgiving Days following harvest were celebrated in all the

colonies of New England, but not on the same day. In October 1863 President

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving. In 191, the US Congress

Named fourth Thursday of November a Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day is a

day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with

which Canada has been blessed. Regular annual observance began in 1879.

Since 1957 Thanksgiving Day has been observed on the second Monday in


St. Andrews Day

In some areas, such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire,

and Northamptonshire, St Andrew was regarded as the patron saint of lace-

makers and his day was thus kept as a holiday, or tendering feast, by

many in that trade. Thomas Sternberg, describing customs in mid-19th-

century Northampton shire, claims that St Andrews Day Old Style (11

December) was a major festival day in many out of the way villages of the

country: the day is one of unbridled license- a kind of carnival;

village scholars bar out the master, the lace schools are deserted, and

drinking and feasting prevail to a riotous extent. Towards evening the

villagers walk about and masquerade, the women wearing mens dress and the

men wearing female

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

attire, visiting one anothers cottages and drinking hot Elderberry wine,

the chief beverage of the season . In Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, a

future of the day was the making and eating of Tandry Wigs. A strange

belief reported Wright and Lones dedicate that wherever lilies of the

valley grow wild the parish church is usually to St Andrew.


Christmas Day is observed on the 25th of December. In Britain this day

was festival long before the conversion to Christianity. The English

historian the Venerable Bede relates that the ancient peoples of Angli

began the year on the 25th of December, and the very night was called in

their tongue modranecht, that is mothers night. Thus it is not

surprising that many social customs connected with the celebration of

Christmas go back to pagan times, as, for instance, the giving of presents.

Indeed, in 1644 the English puritans forbade the keeping of Christmas by

Act of Parliament, on the grounds that it was heathen festival. At the

Restoration Charles II revived the feast.

Though religion in Britain has been steadily losing ground and

Christmas has practically no religious significance for the majority of the

population of modern Britain, it is still the most widely celebrated

festival in all its parts except Scotland. The reason for this is clear.

With its numerous, often rather quaint social customs, it is undoubtedly

the most colourful holiday of the year, and, moreover one that has always

been, even in the days when most people were practising Christian, time

for eating, drinking and making merry.

However, despite the popularity of Christmas, quite number of

English people dislike this festival, and even those who seem to celebrate

it wholeheartedly, have certain reservations about it. The main reason for

this is that Christmas has become the most commercialized festival of the

year. The customs and traditions connected with Christmas, for example

giving presents and having real spree once year, made it an easy prey

to the retailers, who, using modern methods of advertising, force the

customer to buy what he neither wants nor, often, can reasonably afford.

It is not only children and members of the family that exchange

presents nowadays. Advertising has widened this circle to include not only

friends and distant relations, but also people you work with. An average

English family sends dozens and dozens of Christmas cards, and gives and

receive almost as many often practically useless presents. For people who

are well off this entails no hardship, but it is no small burden for

families with small budgets. Thus saving up for Christmas often starts

months before the festival, and Christmas clubs have become national

institution among the working class and lower-middle class. These are

generally run by shopkeepers and publicans over period of about eight

weeks or longer. Into these the housewives pay each week certain amount

of money for their Christmas bird

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

and joint, their Christmas groceries and so on, the husband as rule

paying into the club run by the local pub, for the drinks.

As much of this spending is forced upon people and often means that

family has to do without things they really need, it inevitably leads to

resentment towards the

festival. Needless to say that it isnt the old customs and traditions that

are to blame, but those who make huge profits out of the nationwide

spending spree which they themselves had boosted beyond any reasonable


The Christmas Pantomime

pantomime is traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is

meant for children, but adults enjoy just as much. It is very old form of

entertainment, and can be traced back to 16th century Italian comedies.

Harlequin is character from these old comedies.

There have been lot of changes over the years. Singing and dancing

and all kinds of jokes have been added; but the stories which are told are

still fairy tales, with hero, heroine, and villian. Because they are

fairy tales we do not have to ask who will win in the end! The hero always

wins the beautiful princess, the fairy queen it triumphant and the demon

king is defeated. In every pantomime there are always three main

characters. These are the principal boy, the principal girl, and the

dame. The principal boy is the hero and he is always played by girl.

The principal girl is the heroine, who always marries the principal boy in

the end. The dame is comic figure, usually the mother of the principal

boy or girl, and is always played by man.

In addition, you can be sure there will always be good fairy and

bad fairy perhaps an ogre or demon king.

Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone has new

idea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date. There are pantomimes on

ice, with all the actors skating; pantomimes with well-known pop singer

as the principal boy or girl; or pantomimes with famous comedian from the

English theatre as the dame. But the old stories remain, side by side with

the new ideas.


This is the day when one visits friends, goes for long walk or just

sits around recovering from too much food everything to eat is cold. In

the country there are usually Boxing Day Meets (fox- hunting). In the big

cities and towns tradition on that day demands visit to the pantomime,

where once again one is entertained by the story of Cinderella, Puss in

Boots or whoever it may be the story being protracted

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

and elaborated into as many spectacular scenes as the producer thinks

one can take at sitting.


One of the most important functions of the Citys eighty-four Livery

Companies is the election of London's Lord Mayor at the Guildhall at 12

noon on Michaelmas Day (September 29th). The public are admitted to the

ceremony. It provides one of the many impressive and colourful spectacles

for which London is famed. The reigning Lord r and Sheriffs, carrying

posies, walk in procession to the Guildhall and take their places on the

dais, which is strewn with sweet-smelling herbs. The Recorder announces

that the representatives of the Livery Companies have been called together

to select two Aldermen for the office of Lord r of London. From the

selected two, the Court of Aldermen will choose one. The r, Aldermen

and other senior officials then withdraw, and the Livery select their two

nominations. Usually the choice is unanimous, and the Liverymen all hold up

their hands and shout All!. The Sergeant-at-Arms takes the mace from the

table and, accompanied by the Sheriffs, takes the two names to the Court of

Aldermen, who then proceed to select the Mayor Elect. The bells of the City

ring out as the r and the Mayor Elect leave the Guildhall the state

coach for the Mansion House.

II. Customs, Weddings, Births and Christenings.


In Britain the custom of becoming engaged is still generally retained,

though many young people dispense with it, and the number of such couples

is increasing. As rule, an engagement is announced as soon as girl has

accepted proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is done good time

afterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the girls parents should be

the first to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often the couples

friends who are taken into confidence before either of the parents. If

man has not yet met his future in-laws he does so at the first opportunity,

whereas his parents usually write them friendly letter. It is then up to

the girls mother to invite her daughters future in-laws, to meal or

drinks. Quite often, of course, the man has been frequent visitor at the

girls house long before the engagement, and their families are already

well acquainted.

When girl accepts proposal, the man generally gives her ring in

token of the betrothal. It is worn on the third finger of the left hand

before marriage and together with the wedding ring after it. Engagement

rings range from expensive

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

diamond rings to rings with Victorian semi-precious stones costing

only few pounds.

In most cases the engagement itself amounts only to announcements

being made to the parents on both sides and to friends and relations, but

some people arrange an engagement party, and among the better-off people

it is customary to put an announcement in the newspaper.

In the book Etiquette the author writes that as soon as

congratulations and the first gaieties of announcement are over, man

should have talk with the girls father about the date of their wedding,

where they will live, how well off he is and his future plans and

prospects. Nowadays this is often not done, one of the reasons being that

today the young people enjoy greater degree of financial independence

that they used to, to be able to decide these matters for themselves.

However, in working class families, where the family ties are still strong

and each member of the family is more economically dependent upon the rest,

things are rather different. Quite often, particularly in the larger towns,

the couple will have no option but to live after marriage with either the

girls or the mans people. Housing shortage in Britain is still acute, and

the rents are very high. It is extremely difficult to get unfurnished

accommodation, whereas furnished room, which is easier to get, costs

great deal for rent. In any case, the young couple may prefer to live with

the parents in order to have chance to save up for things for their

future home.

But if the young people, particularly those of the higher-paid section

of the population, often make their own decisions concerning the wedding

and their future, the parents, particularly the girls, still play an

important part in the ensuing activities, as we shall see later.

The period of engagement is usually short, three or four months, but

this is entirely matter of choice and circumstances.

The Ceremony

The parents and close relatives of the bride and groom arrive few

minutes before the bride. The bridegroom and his best man should be in

their places at least ten minutes before the service starts. The

bridesmaids and pages wait in the church porch with whoever is to arrange

the brides veil before she goes up the aisle.

The bride, by tradition, arrives couple of minutes late but this

should not be exaggerated. She arrives with whoever is giving her away. The

verger signals to the organist to start playing, and the bride moves up the

aisle with her veil over her face (although many brides do not follow this

custom). She goes in on her fathers right arm, and the bridesmaids follow

her according to the plan at the rehearsal the day before. The bridesmaids

and ushers go to their places in the front pews during the ceremony, except

for the chief bridesmaid who usually stands behind the bride and holds her


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

After the ceremony the couple go into the vestry to sign the register

with their parents, best man, bridesmaids and perhaps close relation such

as grandmother. The bride throws back her veil or removes the front piece

(if it is removable), the verger gives signal to the organist and the

bride and groom walk down the aisle followed by their parents and those who

have signed the register. The brides mother walks down the aisle on the

left arm of the bridegrooms father and the bridegrooms mother walks down

on the left arm of the brides father (or whoever has given the bride

away). Guests wait until the wedding procession has passed them before

leaving to go on to the reception.

Marriage in Scotland

In Scotland, people over the age of sixteen do not require their

parents consent in order to marry. Marriage is performed by minister of

any religion after the banns have been called on two Sundays in the

districts where the couple have lived for at least fifteen days previously.

Weddings may take place in churches or private houses, and there is no

forbidden time.

Alternatively, the couple may give notice to the registrar of the

district in which they have both lived for fifteen days previously. The

registrar will issue Certificate of Publication which is displayed for

seven days, and it will be valid for three months in any place in Scotland.

Marriage at registry office in Scotland requires publication of

notice for seven days or sheriffs licence, as publication of banns is

not accepted. Such licence is immediately valid but expires after ten

days. One of the parties must have lived in Scotland for at least fifteen

days before the application, which is often prepared by solicitor.

The Reception

The brides parents stand first in the receiving line, followed by the

groom's parents and the bride and groom. Guests line up outside the

reception room and give their names to the major-domo who will announce

them. They need only shake hands and say How do you do? to the parents,

adding perhaps word about how lovely the bride is or how well the

ceremony went. The bride introduces to her husband any friends that he may

not already know, and vice versa.

The important parts of the reception are the cutting of the cake and

the toast to the bride and groom. There should never be any long speeches.

When all the guests have been received, the major-domo requests silence and

the bride cuts the cake, with her husbands hand upon hers.

The toast to the bride and groom is usually proposed by relative or

friend of the bride. may say, M Lords (if any are present), ladies and

gentlemen, I have

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

pleasure in proposing the toast to the bride and bridegroom. should not

make speech full of jokes or silly references to marriage. It should be

short and dignified. The bridegroom replies with few words of thanks.

m or m not then propose the health of the bridesmaids. The best man

replies with few words of thanks. If meal is provided, the toasts will

come at the end of it.

After the toasts the bride and groom m move around the room talking

to their friends until it is time for them to go and change. When they are

ready to leave, guests gather to see them off.

Wedding Presents can be anything, according to your pocket and your

friendship with the bride or groom. Such presents are usually fairly

substantial compared with most other presents, and should preferably be

things useful for future home. Some brides have lists at large store

near their homes. It is always wise to ask if there is one, as this

eliminates your sending something the couple may have already. The list

should contain items of all prices and when one is bought it is crossed

off. wedding is one of the few occasions when money can be given, usually

as cheque. Presents are sent after the invitations have been received,

usually to the brides home. You address the card to both the bride and



When child is born its parents may wish to announce the birth in

national or local newspaper. The announcement may read as follows:

Smith. On February 12th, 1999, at St. 's Hospital, Paddington, to

, wife of James Smith, 15 Blank Terrace, S. W. 3, daughter.

(The, name can be added in brackets.)

The birth must be registered at the local registrar's office within

six weeks in England and Wales and three weeks in Scotland. child is

usually christened in the first six months of its life.

At the christening there is one godmother and two godfathers for boy

and vice versa for girl (but no godparents are necessary at Church of

Scotland christening). The godmother always holds the baby during the

ceremony and gives it to the clergyman just before he baptizes it. She

makes the responses during the ceremony and tells the clergyman the names

when asked. The true role of godparents is to watch over the spiritual

welfare of their godchildren until confirmation, or at least to show

interest in them throughout their childhood.

Usually, but by no means always, the friends and relatives give

christening present. Traditionally, the godparents give silver cup, which

is probably going to be far more useful if it is beer mug! Other presents

should preferably be something

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

intended to last lifetime, such as leather-bound bible or poetry book,

silver spoon or crystal and silver scent bottle.

Sunday in England

For many English families Sunday begins with the by now traditional

lie-in, when, instead of getting up at 7.30 or at 8 'clock, as during

the rest of the week, most people stay in bed for at least another hour.

And there are many younger opl Saturday night revellers in particular

who never see the light of day before midday: what is usually referred to

as getting up at the crack of noon.

Church bells are another typical feature of an English Sunday morning,

although by many their summons remains unanswered, especially by those in

need of physical rather than spiritual comfort. But whether people get out

of bed for morning service or not, their first meaningful contact with the

world beyond the four walls of their bedroom will be the delicious aroma of

bacon and eggs being fried by mother downstairs in the kitchen. This smell

is for most people s much part of Sunday mornings that they would not be

the same without it.

During the mid-morning most people indulge in some fairly light

activity such as gardening, washing the , shelling peas or chopping mint

for Sunday lunch, or taking the dog for walk. Another most popular pre-

lunch activity consists of visit to pub either walk to the

ll, or often nowadays drive to more pleasant country pub if one

lives in built-up area. It is unusual for anyone t drink lot during

lunchtime session, the idea being to have quiet drink and chat,

perhaps discussing the previous evenings entertainment or afternoons

sport. One additional attraction of Sunday lunchtime drinks is that most

men go to the pub alone, that is to say without their wives or girlfriends,

who generally prefer to stay at home and prepare the lunch.

Sunday has always been favourite day for inviting people friends,

relations, colleagues to afternoon tea, and there are n signs that this

custom is losing popularity


In recent years television has become increasingly popular, and Sunday

evening is now regarded as the peak viewing period of the week.

Concerning the differences between typically English Sunday and

Sunday on the Continent, there are still many forms of entertainment which

visitor from Europe would be surprised to find missing on Sundays in

England. Professional sport, for example, was for many years forbidden on

Sundays, and although the restrictions have been relaxed in recent years,

it is still difficult to find any large sporting fixture taking place on

Sundays. This is in marked contrast to the situation in most European

countries where Sunday afternoon is the most popular time for so-called

spectator sports football, horse-racing and, in Spain of course,


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

On the Continent museums and art galleries also attract large numbers

of visitors on Sundays, whereas in England it is only in recent times that

such places as the National Portrait Gallery and The Tate have been open

on such days at present between 2 . m. and 6 . m. One of the most

popular attractions in London on Sunday afternoons, especially in summer,

is the Tower, although this too was closed for many years on Sundays.


In English homes, the fireplace has always been, until recent times,

the natural centre of interest in room. People may like to sit at

window on summer day, but for many months of the year they prefer to sit

round the fire and watch the dancing flames.

In the Middle Ages the fireplaces in the halls of large castles were

very wide. Only wood was burnt, and large logs were carted in from the

forests, and supported as they burnt, on metal bars. Such wide fireplaces

may still be seen in old inns, and in some of them there are even seats

inside the fireplace.

Elizabethan fireplaces often had carved stone or woodwork over the

fireplace, reaching to the ceiling. There were sometimes columns on each

side of the fireplace.

In the 18th century, space was often provided over the fireplace for

painting or mirror.

When coal fires became common, fireplaces became much smaller. Grates

were used to hold the coal. Above the fireplace there was usually shelf

on which there was often clock, and perhaps framed photographs.


Dancing is popular, and the numerous large and opulent-looking public

dance-halls are an important element in the folklore and courtship

procedures of all but the upper and middle classes. They manage to survive

against the competition of the more modern, smaller, noisier discotheques.

They are strictly places for dancing, with good floors and good bands, but

often no tables for people to sit at when they are not actually dancing,

only rows of chairs round the walls. They are visited mainly by young

unmarried people. Girls tend to go in groups of two or three, friends from

the same street or the same or office, relying much on each others

support as they go in; the young men sometimes go in groups too, but often

alone. All the girls tend to congregate together between dances, and the

young men similarly. At the beginning of each dance man chooses girl

from the mass, and will ask the same girl to dance with him again if he

finds her company agreeable, but the girl may refuse. Most of the dancers

go home as they come but not quite at all. If couple like one another

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

the young man may offer an invitation to go to cinema on some future

night, and this invitation may be succeeded by others. After several r-

arranged meetings

couple may regard themselves as going steady together though for long

time they will meet only in public places, and an invitation home implies

great admiration. Young people are thoroughly emancipated, and find it easy

enough to meet each other.


Many British costumes and uniforms have a long history. One is the

uniform of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. This came first from

France. Another is the uniform of the Horse Guards at Horse Guards' Parade,

not far from Buckingham Palace. Thousands of visitors take photographs of

the Horse Guards, but the Guards never move or smile. In fact some visitors

think the Guards aren't real. And that brings us to...Britannia. She wears

traditional clothes, too. But shes not a real person. She is symbol of


Lots of ordinary clothes have a long tradition. The famous bowler

hat, for example. A man called Beaulieu made the first one in 1850.

The very cold winters in the Crimea in the war of 1853-56 gave us

the names of the cardigan and the balaclava. Lord Cardigan led the Light

Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava (1854). A "cardigan" is now a warm

woollen short coat with buttons, and a "balaclava" is a woollen hat.

Another British soldier, Wellington, gave his name to a pair of boots. They

have a shorter name today - "Wellies" raced on the river Thames and the

Oxford boat won. That started a tradition. Now, every Spring, the

University Boat Race goes from Putney to Mort lake on the Thames. That's

6.7 kilometres. The Cambridge rowers wear light blue shirts and the Oxford

rowers wear dark blue. There are eight men in each boat. There's also a

"cox". The cox controls the boat. Traditionally coxes are men, but Susan

Brown became the first woman cox in 1981. She was the cox for Oxford and

they won.


At the end of the 9th form my classmates and I were given a very

interesting task for the examination: to write the reports on different

themes. I introduced with all of them very carefully and choose one that I

like more then others. The theme of my report is Holidays and Traditions

in English- Speaking Countries. I was eager to work with the material on

this theme because its really interesting and exciting for me to know more

about the customs and traditions that came to peoples life many hundreds

years ago. Im also interested in their everyday way of life and I can get

something for myself. I worked hard and did my best to deal with different

kinds of information and literature to make my report differ from the

reports of my classmates. I tried to explain everything with simple phrases

to make my listeners and readers be satisfied with my work. I wish

everybody could get a lot of new information about customs and traditions

of many civilized countries and may be hold them in future too. I hope that

my report will be interesting for everybody.


I feel proud of myself because I did my best to cope with this work

and I hope that I did it quiet well. In my report I tried to show the life

of different nations, which live in English speaking countries. I wrote

about their customs, traditions and holidays, about their costumes and

clothes. It was very interesting to look for the information for my


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