–ефераты. Traditions and holidays of Great Britain

Traditions and holidays of Great Britain

Traditions and holidays of Great Britain.

Every nation and every country has its own traditions and customs.

Traditions make a nation special. Some of them are old-fashioned and many

people remember them, others are part of peopleТs life. Some British

customs and traditions are known all the world.

From Scotland to Cornwall, Britain is full of customs and traditions.

A lot of them have very long histories. Some are funny and some are

strange. But they are all interesting. There is the long menu of

traditional British food. There are many royal occasions. There are songs,

saying and superstitions. They are all part of the British way of life.

You cannot really imagine Britain without all its traditions, this

integral feature of social and private life of the people living on the

British Isles that has always been an important part of their life and


English traditions can classified into several groups: traditions

concerning the EnglishmenТs private life (childТs birth, wedding, marriage,

wedding anniversary); which are connected with families incomes; state

traditions; national holidays, religious holidays, public festival,

traditional ceremonies.

What about royal traditions? There are numerous royal traditions in

Britain, some are ancient, others are modern.

The Queen is the only person in Britain with two birthdays. Her real

birthday is on April 21st, but she has an УofficialФ birthday, too. That is

on the second Saturday in June. And on the QueenТs official birthday, there

is a traditional ceremony called the Trooping of the Colour. It is a big

parade with brass bands and hundreds of soldiers at Horse GuardТs Parade in

London. A УregimentФ of the QueenТs soldiers, the Guards, march in front of

her. At the front of the parade there is the regimentТs flag or УcolourФ.

Thousands of Londoners and visitors watch in Horse GuardsТ Parade. And

millions of people at home watch it on television. This custom is not very

old, but it is for very old people. On his or her one hundredth birthday, a

British person gets a telegram with congratulations from the Queen.

The changing of the Guard happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the

QueenТs home in London. The ceremony always attracts a lot of spectators Ц

Londoners as well as visitors Ц to the British capital.

So soldiers stand on front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers

(the УguardФ) change. One group leaves and another arrives. In summer and

winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11:30 every morning and watch

the Changing of the Guard.

Traditionally the Queen opens Parliament every autumn. But Parliament,

not the Royal Family, controls modern Britain. The Queen travels from

Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in a gold carriage Ц the

Irish State Coach. At the Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a УthroneФ

in the House of Lords. Then she reads the УQueenТs SpeechФ. At the State

Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown. She wears other jewels from

the Crown Jewels, too.

Every year, there is a new Lord Mayor of London. The Mayor is the

cityТs traditional leader. And the second Saturday in November is always

the day for the Lord MayorТs Show. This ceremony is over six hundred years

old. It is also LondonТs biggest parade.

The Lord Mayor drives to the Royal Courts of Justice in a coach. The

coach is two hundred years old. It is red and gold and it has six horses.

As it is also a big parade, people make special costumes and act

stories from LondonТs history.

In Britain as in other countries costumes and uniforms have a long


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

GuardТs Parade, not far from Buckingham Palace. Thousands of visitors take

photographs of the Horse Guards.

Britannia is a symbol of Britain. And she wears traditional clothes,

too. But she is not a real person.

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

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

One of the British soldiers, Wellington, gave his name to a pair of

boots. They have a shorter name today Ц УWelliesФ.

There is a very special royal tradition. On the River Thames there are

hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birds belong,

traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on the Thames

are about two months old. Then the QueenТs swan keeper goes, in a boat,

from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and marks the

royal ones. The name of this strange nut interesting custom is Swan Upping.

There are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, that is

days on which people need not go in to work. They are: Christmas Day, Good

Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday,

Boxing Day.

So the most popular holiday in Britain is Christmas. Christmas has

been celebrated from the earliest days of recorded history, and each era

and race has pasted a colourful sheet of new customs and traditions over

the old.

On the Sunday before Christmas many churches hold a carol service

where special hymns are sung. Sometimes carol singers can be heard in the

streets as they collect money for charity. There are a lot of very popular

British Christmas carols. Three famous ones are: УGood King WenceslasФ,

УThe Holly and The IvyФ and УWe Three KingsФ.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world send and

receive Christmas cards. Most of people think that exchanging cards at

Christmas is a very ancient custom but it is not right. In fact it is

barely 100 years old. The idea of exchanging illustrated greeting and

presents is, however, ancient. So the first commercial Christmas card was

produced in Britain in 1843 by Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria and

Albert Museum, London. The handcoloured print was inscribed with the words

ТA Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to youТ. It was horizontally

rectangular in shape, printed on stout cardboard by lithography.

A traditional feature of Christmas in Britain is the Christmas tree.

Queen VictoriaТs husband, Prince Albert, brought the German tradition (he

was German) to Britain. He and the Queen had a Christmas tree at Windsor

Castle in 1841. A few years after, nearly every house in Britain had one.

Traditionally people decorate their trees on Christmas Eve Ц thatТs

December 24th. They take down the decorations twelve days later, on Twelfth

Night (January 5th).

An older tradition is Christmas mistletoe. People put a piece of this

green plant with its white berries over a door. Mistletoe brings good luck,

people say. Also, at Christmas British people kiss their friends and family

under the mistletoe.

Those who live away try to get back home because Christmas is a family

celebration and it is the biggest holiday of the year. As Christmas comes

nearer, everyone is buying presents for relatives and friends. At Christmas

people try to give their children everything they want. And the children

count the weeks, than the days, to Christmas. They are wondering what

presents on December 24th. Father Christmas brings their presents in the

night. Then they open them on the morning of the 25th.

There is another name for Father Christmas in Britain Ц Santa Claus.

That comes from the European name for him Ц Saint Nicholas. In the

traditional story he lives at the North Pole. But now he lives in big shops

in towns and cities all over Britain. Well, thatТs where children see him

in November and December. Then on Christmas Eve he visits every house. He

climbs down the chimney and leaves lots of presents. Some people leave

something for him, too. A glass of wine and some biscuits, for example.

At Christmas everyone decorates their houses with holly, ivy colourful


In Britain the most important meal on December 25th is Christmas

dinner. Nearly all Christmas food is traditional, but a lot of the

traditions are not very old. For example, there were no turkeys in Britain

before 1800. And even in the nineteenth century, goose was the traditional

meat at Christmas. But not now.

A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner is roast turkey with

carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts and gravy. There are sausages and

bacon, too. Then, after the turkey, thereТs Christmas pudding. Some people

make this pudding months before Christmas. A lot of families have their own

Christmas pudding recipes. Some, for example, use a lot of brandy. Others

put in a lot of fruit or add a silver coin for good luck. Real Christmas

puddings always have a piece of holly on the top. Holly bushes and trees

have red berries at Christmas time, and so people use holly to decorate

their houses for Christmas. The holly on the pudding is part of the


Crackers are also usual at Christmas dinner. These came to Britain

from China in the nineteenth century. Two people pull a cracker. Usually

there is a small toy in the middle. Often there is a joke on a piece of

paper, too. Most of the jokes in Christmas crackers are not very good. Here

is on example:

Customer: Waiter, thereТs a frog in my soup.

Waiter: Yes, sir, the flyТs on holidays.

A pantomime is a traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is

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

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

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

all kinds of jokes have been added; but the stories that are told are still

fairy tales, with a hero, a heroine, and a villain.

In every pantomime there are always three main characters. These are

the Уprincipal boyФ, the Уprincipal girlФ, and the УdameФ. Pantomimes are

changing all the time. Every year, someone has a new idea to make them more

exciting or more up-to-date.

December 26th is Boxing Day. Traditionally boys from the shops in each

town asked for money at Christmas. They went from house to house on

December 26th and took boxes made of wood with them. At each house people

gave them money. This was a Christmas present. So the name of December 26th

doesnТt come from the sport of boxing Ц it comes from the boysТ wooden

boxes. Now, Boxing Day is an extra holiday after Christmas Day.

Traditionally Boxing Day Hunts is a day for foxhunting. The huntsmen

and huntswomen ride horses. They use dogs, too. The dogs (fox hounds)

follow the smell of the fox. Then the huntsmen and huntswomen follow the

hounds. Before a Boxing Day hunt, the huntsmen and huntswomen drink not

wine. But the tradition of the December 26th hunt is changing. Now, some

people want to stop Boxing Day Hunts (and other hunts, too). They donТt

like foxhunting. For them itТs not a sport Ц it is cruel.

In England people celebrate the New Year. But it is not as widely or

as enthusiastically observed as Christmas. Some people ignore it completely

and go to bed at the same time as usual on New YearТs Eve. Many others,

however, do celebrate it in one way or another, the type of celebration

varying very much according to the local custom, family tradition and

personal taste.

The most common type of celebration is a New Year party, either a

family party or one arranged by a group of young people. And another

popular way of celebrating the New Year is to go to a New YearТs dance.

The most famous celebration is in London round the statue of Eros in

Piccadilly Circus where crowds gather and sing and welcome the New Year. In

Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd and someone usually falls into

the fountain.

Every Year the people of Norway give the city of London a present.

ItТs a big Christmas tree and it stands in Trafalgar Square. Also in

central London, Oxford Street and Regent Street always have beautiful

decorations at the New Year and Christmas. Thousands of people come to look

at them.

In Britain a lot of people make New Year Resolutions on the evening of

December 31st. For example, УIТll get up early every morning next yearФ, or

УIТll clean, my shoes every dayФ. But there is a problem. Most people

forget their New Year Resolutions on January 2nd.

But New YearТs Eve is a more important festival in Scotland then it is

in England, and it even has a special name. It is not clear where the

СHogmanayТ comes from, but it is connected with the provision of food and

drink for all visitors to your home on 31st December.

There is a Scottish song that is sung all over the world at midnight

on New YearТs Eve. It was written by Robert Burns, the famous Scottish

poet, and you may find some of the traditional words a bit difficult to

understand, but thatТs the way itТs always sung Ц even by English people!

It was believed that the first person to visit oneТs house on New

YearТs Day could bring good or bad luck. Therefore, people tried to arrange

for the person of their own choice to be standing outside their houses

ready to be let in the moment midnight had come.

Usually a dark-complexioned man was chosen, and never a woman, for she

would bring bad luck. The first footer was required to carry three

articles: a piece of coal to wish warmth, a piece of bread to wish food,

and a silver coin to wish wealth. In some parts of northern England this

pleasing custom is still observed. So this interesting tradition called

УFirst FootingФ.

On Bank holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to

the coast. If the weather is fine many families take a picnic Ц lunch or

tea with them and enjoy their meal in the open. Seaside towns near London,

such as Southend, are invaded by thousands of trippers who come in cars and

coaches, trains and bicycles. Great amusement parks like Southend Kursoal

do a roaring trade with their scenic railways, shooting galleries, water-

shoots, Crazy houses and so on. Trippers will wear comic paper hats with

slogans, and they will eat and drink the weirdest mixture of stuff you can

imagine, sea food like cockles, mussels, whelks, fish and chips, candy

floss, tea, fizzy drinks, everything you can imagine.

Bank holiday is also an occasion for big sports meeting at places like

the White City Stadium, mainly all kinds of athletics. There are also horse

race meetings all over the country, and most traditional of all, there are

large fairs with swings, roundabouts, a Punch and Judy show, hoop-la stalls

and every kind of side-show including, in recent, bingo. There is also much

boating activity on the Thames.

Although the Christian religion gave the world Easter as we know it

today, the celebration owes its name and many of its customs and symbols to

a pagan festival called Eostre. Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of

springtime and sunrise, got her name from the world east, where the

sunrises. Every spring northern European peoples celebrated the festival of

Eostre to honour the awakening of new life in nature. Christians related

the rising of the sun to the resurrection of Jesus and their own spiritual


Many modern Easter symbols come from pagan time. The egg, for

instance, was a fertility symbol long before the Christian era. The ancient

Persians, Greeks and Chinese exchanged eggs at their sping festivals. In

Christian times the egg took on a new meaning symbolizing the tomb from

which Christ rose. The ancient custom of dyeing eggs at Easter time is

still very popular.

The Easter bunny also originated in pre-Christian fertility lore. The

rabbit was the most fertile animal our ances tors knew, so they selected it

as a symbol of new life. Today, children enjoy eating candy bunnies and

listening to stories about the Easter bunny, who supposedly brings Easter

eggs in a fancy basket.

Also there is a spectacular parade on Easter. It is a truly

spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park. It is sponsored by the London

Tourist Board and is usually planned around a central theme related to the

history and attractions of London. The great procession, or parade, begins

at 3 p.m. but it is advisable to find a vantage-point well before that


On October 31st British people celebrate Halloween. It is undoubtedly

the most colourful and exciting holiday of the year. Though it is not a

public holiday, it is very dear to those who celebrate it, especially to

children and teenagers. This day was originally called All HallowТs Eve

because it fell on the eve of All SaintsТ Day. The name was later shortened

to Halloween. According to old beliefs, Halloween is the time, when the

veil between the living and the dead is partially lifted, and witches,

ghosts and other super natural beings are about. Now children celebrate

Halloween in unusual costumes and masks. It is a festival of merrymaking,

superstitions spells, fortunetelling, traditional games and pranks.

Halloween is a time for fun.

Few holidays tell us much of the past as Halloween. Its origins

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