Customs and Traditions in Great Britain — топик по английскому

топик Customs and traditions of Great Britain

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English customs and traditions, first of all, concerns United Kingdom political system. In Great Britain there is no written constitution, only customs, traditions and precedents. After the English Revolution of Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy headed by King (now Queen, Elizabeth the second). Traditionally the Queen acts only on the advice of her Ministers. She reigns but she does not rule.
Englishmen have traditions not only in political, but in social life. For example, London, the capital of England, is traditionally divided into three parts: the West End, the East end, and the City. The City is a historical, financial and business center of London. The East End is the district inhabited by the workers, and the West End is a fashionable shopping and entertaining center. English people like to spend their free time in numerous pubs where they can have a glass of beer and talk about different things with their friends.
The English are traditional about their meals. They eat eggs and bacon with toasts for breakfast, pudding or apple pie for dessert. Every English family has five o’clock tea. A typical feature of an English house is a fireplace, even when there is central heating in the house.
English people like domestic animals. Every family has a pet: a dog, a cat or a bird.
Politeness is a characteristic feature of Englishmen. They often say «Thank you», «Sorry», «Beg your pardon». Russian people, I think, have to learn this good custom.
Englishmen have many traditional holidays, such as Christmas, St.Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day, Easter and others.

Some English customs and traditions are famous all over the world. Bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather, for example. From Scotland to Cornwall, the United Kingdom is full of customs and traditions. Here are some of them.

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Traditions and customs of the UK / Традиции и обычаи Великобритании

Many things that are always regarded as typically British were written long ago and are not representing «modem life».

In the 20th century a lot of immigrants came to the British Isles and now it is extremely incorrect to identify these stereotypes with all people living there. It is a multicultural society. But still there are many interesting peculiarities in the British culture.

Most British people live in towns and cities. But they have an idealized vision of the countryside. The countryside for them means peace and quiet, beauty, good health and no crime.

People in Britain are fond of gardening. They like to plant and grow different flowers.

The British have sentimental attitude to animals. They like to keep pets.

The British are the sport loving nation. Sport is a popular leisure activity. Football and rugby are very popular with British people. Over three million people participate in basketball in the UK.

Horse-racing, «the sport of Kings» is a very popular sport.

Polo is popular too. It was brought to Britain from India in the 19th century by the English soldiers.

Fishing (angling) is one of the most popular sports.

Traditionally, the favourite sports of the British upper class are hunting, shooting and fishing. The most widespread form of hunting isfox-hunting. This is a popular pastime among some members of the higher social classes and is a mark of their status.

Darts is a very popular pub game.

The word «pub» is short for «public house». Pubs are so popular in the UK that there are over 60,000 pubs there (53,000 in England and Wales, 5,200 in Scotland and 1,600 in Northern Ireland). Pubs are an important part of British life. People talk, eat, drink, meet their friends and relax there.

The British is a nation of tea-drinkers. It is a stereotype which is out-of-date. Of course, they like it to be made in a certain distinctive way Ч strong and with milk, but more coffee than tea is bought in the country’s shops.

Afternoon tea was always thought to be a very important tradition in the UK.

Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and a long period of time was still between lunch and dinner. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.

This pause for tea became a fashionable social event.

Nowadays, however, in the average household, afternoon tea is likely to be just a biscuil or a small cake and a mug of tea, usually produced using a teabag. The tradition of afternoon tea is supported by retired people or by upper-middle class people.

Many think of British conservatism and call it «the land of tradition» because of their loyalty to traditions, but it is only true of public life. Annual ceremonies are centuries old. Speaking nationally they like stability in terms of state. In their private everyday life the British do not follow these traditions so precisely.

The British and about a quarter of the world drives on the left side of the road, and the countries that do so are mostly old British colonies. This puzzles the rest of the world. However, there is a perfectly good reason. Up to the late 1700’s, everybody travelled on the left side of the road because it is the sensible option for feudal, violent societies of mostly right-handed people.

Why driving on the left?

The knights with theii lances under theii right arm naturally passed on each other’s right, and if you passed a stranger on the road you walked on the left to ensure that your protective sword arm was between yourself and him.

It was changed under Napoleon because he was left-handed. His armies had to march on the right, so he could keep his sword arm between him and an opponent. From that time any part of the world which was, at some time, part of the British Empire, was thus left-handed and any part colonised by the French was right-handed.

The drive-on-the-right policy was adopted by the USA to become free of all remaining links with its British colonial past. It is very difficult to imagine that the British will ever refuse from driving on the left. Not being like everyone else is a good reason not to change.

In Britain they shop in pounds and ounces, though almost everywhere in the world people use grammes and kilogrammes.

As for temperature, even weathermen use Celsius while people in the UK use Farenheit.

The English continue to start their financial year not as other countries do, at the beginning of the calendar year, but at the beginning of April.

The class system has a special meaning for the British. And the most peculiar thing is that the class system there. It is not totaly dependent on money. This system is more historical than money-measured. Old aristocracy Ч the royal family, all the dukes, earls and barons are of very small number.

The accent reminds of the class greatly. Most ordinary people have regional accents and upper-class people speak the same language throughout England and Scotland. It is like upper class, which has their own dialect with a pronunciation called RP (Recieved Pronunciation).

The British form the queues whenever they are waiting for something. Some people even joke that an Englishman even if he is alone forms an orderly queue of one. But this does not mean that they enjoy it. They regard the necessity to wait in the queues for about 3 minutes already a problem.

It should be noted that the British police is unarmed. That is very good for their public image Ч they are serving people and controlling them. The policemen are occasionally called «Bobbies». Originally though, they were known as «Peelers». Before 1829 there were no police anywhere in Britain. And the police was the creation of the Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel. That is where the name «Peelers» comes from. And Bobby is short for Robert.

If the British like formal ceremonies, many visitors draw a conclusion that they like formalities in their general behaviour. They do observe formalities, but this does not mean that they are formal in everyday life. Bank workers wear a tie and a suit. But they like to dress down because of clothes formalities. Some offices have recently adopted the American custom of «dress-down Friday», when employees can wear more casual clothes for one day a week.

The difference of formality and informality is sometimes regarded as coldness of the British people. Being friendly in Britain is sometimes showing that you are not bothering with formalities. For example, not shaking hands when meeting and not saying «please» when making a request. When they avoid doing these things they are not being unfriendly* as it may seem, they just mean that you are in catergory «a friend», so all the rules can be ignored.

Читайте также другие темы раздела «Traditions and customs of the UK»:

Customs and traditions in Great Britain
методическая разработка по английскому языку (6 класс) на тему

  • Good morning, boys and girls! Today I will be your teacher, my name is Любовь Алексеевна. Lets get acquainted. I give you sheets and you please write down you names.
  • How are you?
  • I am fine too, thank you! Sit down please, be ready for the lesson.
  • Who is on duty today? Tell me,what is the weather like today? Who is absent today?

Today we are going to summarize our knowledge about the customs and traditions. You have a wonderful chance to get good marks. The most active pupils will get specials cards and in the end of the lesson you count your results. The upper limit is 10 cards. Let’s start our lesson. Please don’t open your books and look at the blackboard. You can see 2 columns with words. Some letters miss, so you should complete the words using right letters. Is everything clear? Okay, let’s do it right now. Who wants to be the first?

Well done! I see, that you know these words and please tell me, do you know any songs or poems about traditions? Lets sing it all together.

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You are all an excellent singers. Last lessons we learn English, Americans or Russian holidays. And now we will do a very interesting task. I will show you some pictures and you should try to guess, what holiday it is. The first picture is…,the second is….

Please remember that the most active pupil will have a card.

Do you like to see films?

Next task, I think is the most interesting for you. We are going to see a short video. You should be very attentive; because we will see it only one time and we will do some exercise after seeing a film. Are you ready?

Look at the first work sheet .your task is to answer the question, then match and write here. Is the task clear? Do you have any questions? I will give one minute to do this task.

The second task is to find and write them into “the wizards world pot”

The next task is to order the words in the right structure.

Excellent! So lets continue talking about traditions. I will give again a worksheet. Match holidays with the right date. I will give you 4 minutes. If you have questions about the task,ask me please. Well done, it was very difficult task.

As a conclusion of our lesson. I want to listen your retells.

Who can say about British traditions.

Подведение итогов урока.

You home task is HOME READING LESSON 6.

Thank you for a nice lesson. See you next lesson, goodbye.

Customs and Traditions in Great Britain – Обычаи и традиции Великобритании

�� Play Almost every nation has a reputation of some kind. Почти каждая нация имеет репутацию некоторого рода.

�� Play The English are reputed to be cold and reserved. Англичане имеют репутацию холодных и сдержанных людей.

�� Play In reality they are steady, easy-going and fond of sport. В действительности они являются стабильными, легкими на подъем и любителями спорта.

�� Play But these statements can’t be universal. Но эти заявления не могут быть универсальными.

�� Play Great Britain consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Великобритания состоит из Англии, Шотландии, Уэльса и Северной Ирландии.

�� Play Inhabitants of all these parts have a lot of differences. Жители всех этих частей имеют много различий.

�� Play For example, the Scots are not English. Например, шотландцы – это не англичане.

�� Play The Scots are thought to be kind, but at first glance they are not so amiable. Шотландцы, как считается, добрые, но на первый взгляд, они не столь любезны.

�� Play They don’t like to compromise, lean much upon logic and run much to extremes. Они не любят идти на компромисс, во многом опираются на логику и часто впадают в крайности.

�� Play The Scots are more extravagant, their traditions are more colourful and exciting. Шотландцы более экстравагантны, их традиции более красочны и интересны.

�� Play The Gaelic language and songs, the tartan, the bagpipes are completely Scottish. Гаэльский язык и песни, тартан, волынка – всё полностью шотландское.

�� Play There is no other part of the British Isles where national spirit is stronger, national pride more intense and national traditions more appreciated than in Wales. Не существует никакой другой части Британских островов, где национальный дух был бы сильнее, национальная гордость более интенсивной и национальные традиции ценились бы больше, чем в Уэльсе.

�� Play The Welsh still wear proudly their national dress on holidays. Валлийцы до сих пор с гордостью носят свою национальную одежду на праздники.

�� Play The Welsh language is still very much a living force and is taught side by side with English at schools. Валлийский язык еще является языком живого общения и преподаётся бок о бок с английским языком в школах.

�� Play Welshmen, who have a highly developed artistic taste, have contributed heavily to poetry, songs and drama. Валлийцы, которые имеют высокоразвитый художественный вкус, внесли большой вклад в поэзию, песни и театральные представления.

�� Play The national Welsh Eisteddfod is devoted to music, literature and the arts. Валлийский национальный Айстэдфод посвящен музыке, литературе и искусству.

�� Play It is a competitive festival and is held in the first week of August. Это фестиваль – конкурс и проводится он в первую неделю августа.

�� Play Prizes are awarded for music, prose and verse, painting and drama. Премии присуждается за музыку, прозу и стихи, картины и театральные представления.

�� Play Many thousands of people attend it every year. Тысячи людей посещают его каждый год.

�� Play The main difference between the Irish and the British is their religion. Основное различие между ирландцами и британцами это их религия.

�� Play But there are some things that unite them all together. Но есть некоторые вещи, которые объединяют их всех вместе.

�� Play One of them is gardening. Одним из них является садоводство.

�� Play The love of gardens is deeply rooted in all the British people. Любовь к садоводству глубоко укоренилась во всех британцах.

�� Play You will seldom see a suburban garden neglected. Вы редко увидете заброшенный пригородный сад.

�� Play Britain is also a nation of animal lovers. Великобритания также является нацией любителей животных.

�� Play Every family has a pet, which is paid much attention to. В каждой семье есть домашнее животное, которому уделяется большое внимание.

Traditions and holidays of Great Britain.

British Traditions

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 people’s life. Some British customs and traditions are known all over the world: bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather.

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.

We can classify English traditions into several groups: traditions concerning private life, state traditions; national holidays, religious holidays, public festivals, traditional ceremonies.

I think Royal traditions are the most interesting of them, for example the changing of the guard. This happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s home in London. Soldiers stand in front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers (the «guard») 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.

Another interesting tradition is The Queen’s telegram. This custom is not very old, but it’s for very old people. On his or her one hundredth birthday, a British person gets a telegram from the Queen.

Traditions of everyday life if English people are also worth our attention. For example, talking about the weather.

The British talk about the weather a lot. For example, »Isn’t it a beautiful morning?» or, ‘’Very cold today, isn’t it?» They talk about the weather because it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun cloud, snow — they can all happen in a British winter — or a British summer.

Shaking hands is another nice tradition. Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to show that they didn’t have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in most countries. In Britain you don’t shake hands with your friends and family. But you doshake hands when you meet a person for the first time. You also say «How do you do?» This is not really a question, it’s a tradition. The correct answer is exactly the same, «How do you do?»

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 peoples 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 work. English traditions can classified into several groups: traditions concerning the Englishmens private life (childs 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 21 st , but she has an “official” birthday, too. That is on the second Saturday in June. And on the Queens 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 Guards Parade in London. A “regiment” of the Queens soldiers, the Guards, march in front of her. At the front of the parade there is the regiments flag or “colour”. Thousands of Londoners and visitors watch in Horse Guards 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 Queens home in London. The ceremony always attracts a lot of spectators Londoners as well as visitors to the British capital.

So soldiers stand on front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers (the “guard”) 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 the Irish State Coach. At the Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a “throne” in the House of Lords. Then she reads the “Queens Speech”. 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 citys traditional leader. And the second Saturday in November is always the day for the Lord Mayors Show. This ceremony is over six hundred years old. It is also Londons biggest parade.

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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 Londons history. In Britain as in other countries 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. 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

pair of boots. They have a shorter name today “Wellies”.

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 Queens 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: “Good King Wenceslas”, “The Holly and The Ivy” and “We Three Kings”. 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 A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to you. It was horizontally rectangular in shape, printed on stout cardboard by lithography. A traditional feature of Christmas in Britain is the Christmas tree. Queen Victorias 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 thats December 24 th . They take down the decorations twelve days later, on Twelfth Night (January 5 th ). 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 24 th . Father Christmas brings their presents in the night. Then they open them on the morning of the 25 th .
There is another name for Father Christmas in Britain Santa Claus. That comes from the European name for him 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, thats 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 lamps. In Britain the most important meal on December 25 th 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, theres Christmas pudding. Some people make thispudding 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 decoration.

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, theres a frog in my soup. Waiter: Yes, sir, the flys 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 16 th 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 “principal boy”, the “principal girl”, and the “dame”. Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone has a new idea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date.

December 26 th is Boxing Day. Traditionally boys from the shops in each town asked for money at Christmas. They went from house to house on December 26 th 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 26 th doesnt come from the sport of boxing it comes from the boys 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 26 th hunt is changing. Now, some people want to stop Boxing Day Hunts (and other hunts, too). They dont like foxhunting. For them its not a sport 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 Years 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 Years 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. Its 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 31 st . For example, “Ill get up early every morning next year”, or “Ill clean, my shoes every day”. But there is a problem. Most people forget their New Year Resolutions on January 2 nd . But New Years 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 Hogmanay comes from, but it isconnected with the provision of food and drink for all visitors to your home on 31 st December.

There is a Scottish song that is sung all over the world at midnight on New Years 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 thats the way its always sung even by English people!

It was believed that the first person to visit ones house on New Years 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 “First Footing”. On Bank holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to the coast. If the weather is fine many families take a picnic 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 rebirth. 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 hour. On October 31 st 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 Hallows Eve because it fell on the eve of All Saints 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 beingsare 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 dateback to a time, when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts. Many Halloween customs are based on beliefs of the ancient Celts, who lived more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France. Every year the Celts celebrated the Druid festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead and Prince of Darkness. It fell on October 31, the eve of the Druid new year. The date marked the end of summer, or the time when the sun retreated before the powers of darkness and the reign of the Lord of Death began. The Dun god took part in the holiday and received thanks for the years harvest. It was believed that evil spirits sometimes played tricks on October 31. They could also do all kinds of damage to property. Some people tried to ward of the witches by painting magic signs on their barns. Others tried to frighten them away by nailing a piece of iron, such as a horseshoe, over the door. Many fears and superstitions grew up about this day. An old Scotch superstition was that witches those who had sold their souls to the devil left in their beds on Halloween night a stick made by magic to look like themselves. Then they would fly up the chime attended by a black cat. In Ireland, and some other parts of Great Britain, it was believed, that fairies spirited away young wives, whom they returned dazed and amnesic 366 days later. When Halloween night fell, people in some places dressed up and tried to resemble the souls of the dead. They hoped that the ghosts would leave peacefully before midnight. They carried food to the edge of town or village and left it for the spirits. In Wales, they believed that the devil appeared in the shape of a pig, a horse, or a dog. On that night, every person marked a stone and put it in a bonfire. If a persons stone was missingthe next morning, he or she would die within a year. Much later, when Christianity came to Great Britain and Ireland, the Church wisely let the people keep their old feast. But it gave it a new association when in the 9 th century a festival in honour of all saints (All Hallows) was fixed on November 1. In the 11 th century November 2 became All Souls Day to honour the souls of the dead, particularly those who died during the year. Christian tradition included the lighting of bonfires and carring blazing torches all around the fields. In some places masses of flaming staw were flung into the air. When these ceremonies were over, everyone returned home to feast on the new crop of apples and nuts, which are the traditional Halloween foods. On that night, people related their experience with strange noises and spooky shadows and played traditional games. Halloween customs today follow many of the ancient traditions, though their significance has long since disappeared. A favourite Halloween custom is to make a jack-j-lantern. Children take out the middle of the pumpkin, cut hole holes for the eyes, nose and mouth in its side and, finally, they put a candle inside the pumpkin to scare their friends. The candle burning inside makes the orange face visible from far away on a dark night and the pulp makes a delicious pumpkin-pie. People in England and Ireland once carved out beets, potatoes, and turnips to make jack-o-lanterns on Halloween. When the Scots and Irish came to the United States, they brought their customs with them. But they began to carve faces on pumpkins because they were more plentiful in autumn than turnips. Nowadays, British carve faces on pumpkins, too.

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According to an Irish legend, jack-o-lanterns were named for a man called Jack who was notorious for his drunkenness and being stingy. One evening at the local pub, the Devil appeared to take his soul. Clever Jack persuaded the Devil to “have one drink together before we go”. To pay for his drink the Devil turned himself into a sixpence. Jack immediately put it into his wallet. The Devil couldnt escape from it because it had a catch.

On February 14 th its Saint Valentines Day in Britain. It is not a national holiday. Banks and offices do not close, but it is a happy little festival in honour of St. Valentine. On this day, people send Valentine cards to their husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends. You can also send a card to a person you do not know. But traditionally you must never write your name on it. Some British newspapers have got a page for Valentines Day messages on February 14 th . This lovely day is widely celebrated among people of all ages by the exchanging of “valentines”. Saint Valentine was a martyr but this feast goes back to pagan times and the Roman feast of Lupercalia. The names of young unmarried girlswere put into a vase. The young men each picked a name, and discovered the identity of their brides.

This custom came to Britain when the Romans invaded it. But the church moved the festival to the nearest Christian saints day: this was Saint Valentines Day. Midsummers Day, June 24 th , is the longest day of the year. On that day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is on of Europes biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones are ten or twelve metres high. It is also very old. The earliest part of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old. But what was Stonehenge? A holy place? A market? Or was it a kind of calendar? Many people think that the Druids used it for a calendar. The Druids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge to know the start of months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain today, too. And every June 24 th a lot of them go to Stonehenge. On that morning the sun shines on one famous stone the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment in the year. But for a lot of British people it is just a strange old custom. Londoners celebrate carnivals. And one of them is Europes biggest street carnival. A lot of people in the Notting Hill area of London come from the West Indies a group of islands in the Caribbean. And for two days in August, Nutting Hill is the West Indies. There is West Indian food and music in the streets. There is also a big parade and people dance day and night. April 1 st is April Fools Day in Britain. This is a very old tradition from the Middle Ages (between the fifth and fifteenth centuries). At that time the servants were masters for one day of the year. They gave orders to their masters, and their masters had to obey.
Now April Fools Day is different. It is a day for jokes and tricks.

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