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Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries



Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.



                       I. Britain round the calendar.



                      PUBLIC HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS


      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,
Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late  Summer
Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Year’s Day  is  also  a  public  holiday.
Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it would be right  to
say that for the greater part of the population they have  long  lost  their
religious significance and are simply  days  on  which  people  relax,  eat,
drink and make merry. All the public  holidays,  except  Christmas  Day  and
Boxing Day observed on December 25th and  26th  respectively,  are  movable,
that is they do not fall on the same day each year. Good Friday  and  Easter
Monday depend on Easter Sunday which falls on the first Sunday after a  full
moon on or after March 21st. the Spring  Bank  Holiday  falls  on  the  last
Monday of May or on the first Monday of June, while  the  Late  Summer  Bank
Holiday comes on the last Monday  in  August  or  on  the  first  Monday  in
September, depending on which of the Mondays  is  nearer  to  June  1st  and
September 1st respectively.
      Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries  and
simply days, for example Pancake Day and Bonfire  Night,  on  which  certain
traditions are observed,  but  unless  they  fall  on  a  Sunday,  they  are
ordinary working days.



                                  NEW YEAR


      In England the New Year  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  Year’s  Eve.  Many  others,  however,  do
celebration it in one way or another, the type of celebration  varying  very
much according to the local custom, family traditions 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.  This  usually
begins at about eight o’clock and goes on  until  the  early  hours  of  the
morning. There is a lot of drinking, mainly  beer,  wine,  gin  and  whisky;
sometimes the hosts make a  big  bowl  of  punch  which  consists  of  wine,
spirits, fruit juice and water in varying proportions. There  is  usually  a
buffer of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savouries,  cakes  and  biscuits.  At
midnight the wireless is turned on, so that everyone can hear the chimes  of
Big Ben, and on the hour a toast is drunk to the New Year.  Then  the  party
goes on.
      Another popular way of celebrating the New Year is  to  go  to  a  New
Year’s dance. Most hotels and dance  halls  hold  a  special  dance  on  New
Year’s Eve. The hall is decorated, there are  several  different  bands  and
the atmosphere is very gay.
      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


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd and someone  usually  falls  into
the fountain.
      Those who have no desire or no opportunity to celebrate the  New  Year
themselves can sit and watch other people celebrating on television.  It  is
an indication of the relative unimportance of the New Year in  England  that
the television  producers  seem  unable  to  find  any  traditional  English
festivities for their programmers and usually show Scottish ones.
      January 1st, New Year’s Day, is not a  public  holiday,  unfortunately
for those who like to celebrate most of the  night.  Some  people  send  New
Year cards and give presents but this is not a widespread  custom.  This  is
the traditional time for making “New  Year  resolutions”,  for  example,  to
give up smoking, or to get up earlier. However,  these  are  generally  more
talked about than put into practice.
      Also on New Year’s Day the “New Year Honours  List”  is  published  in
the newspapers; i.e. a list of those who are to be given honours of  various
types – knighthoods, etc.
      In Canada New Year’s Day has a  long  tradition  of  celebration.  New
Year’s Eve in French Canada was (and still  is)  marked  by  the  custom  of
groups of young men, to dress in COLOURful  attire  and  go  from  house  to
house, singing and begging gifts for the poor. New Year’s Day was  (and  is)
a time for paying calls  on  friends  and  neighbours  and  for  asking  the
blessing of the head of the  family.  The  early  Governors  held  a  public
reception for the men of the community  on  New  Year’s  morning,  a  custom
preserved down to  the  present  day.  While  New  Year’s  Day  is  of  less
significance in English Canada than in French Canada, it’s a public  holiday
throughout the country. Wide spread merry-making begins on  New  Year’s  Eve
with house parties, dinner  dances  and  special  theatre  entertainment.  A
customary feature of the occasion that suggests  the  Scottish  contribution
to the observation is the especially those that  couldn’t  be  arranged  for
Christmas, are held on  New  Year’s  Day.  New  Year  isn’t  such  important
holiday in England as Christmas. Some people don’t celebrate it at all.
    In USA many people have New Year parties. A  party  usually  begins  at
about 8 o’clock and goes on until early morning. At midnight they listen  to
the chimes of Big Ben, drink a toast to the New  Year  and  Sing  Auld  Lang
Syne.
    In London crowds usually gather round the statue of Eros in  Piccadilly
Circus and welcome the New Year.
    There are some traditions on New Year’s Day. One of  them  is  the  old
First Footing. The first man to come into the house is very  important.  The
Englishman believes that he brings luck. This man  (not  a  woman)  must  be
healthy, young, pretty looking. He brings presents-bread, a  piece  of  coal
or a coin. On the New Year’s Day families watch the old  year  out  and  the
New Year in.


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


    In Scotland the New Year’s Day is also a public  holiday.  Some  people
ignore it completely and go to bed at the same time as usual on  New  Year’s
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.  This  usually
begins at about eight o’clock and goes on  until  the  early  hours  of  the
morning. There is a lot of drinking, mainly  beer,  wine,  gin  and  whisky;
sometimes the hosts make a  big  bowl  of  punch  which  consists  of  wine,
spirits, fruit juice and water in varying proportions. There  is  usually  a
buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savories, cakes and  biscuits.
At midnight the wireless is turned on, so that everyone can hear the  chimes
of Big Ben, and on the hour a toast is drunk  to  the  New  Year.  Then  the
party goes on.


                            Hogmanay Celebrations

      Hogmanay is a Scottish name for New Year’s Eve,  and  is  a  time  for
merrymaking, the giving of presents and the observance of the old custom  of
First  –  Footing.  One  of  the  most  interesting  of  Scottish   Hogmanay
celebrations  is  the  Flambeaux  Procession  at  Comrie,  Perthshire.  Such
processions can be traced back to the time of the ancient Druids.  There  is
a procession of townsfolk in fancy dress carrying large  torches.  They  are
led by pipers. When the procession has completed  its  tour,  the  flambeaux
(torches) are thrown into a pile,  and  everyone  dances  around  the  blaze
until the torches have burned out.


                            The Night of Hogmanay

      Nowhere else in Britain is the arrival of the New Year  celebrated  so
wholeheartedly as in Scotland.
      Throughout Scotland, the preparations for greeting the New Year  start
with a minor “spring-cleaning”. Brass and  silver  must  be  glittering  and
fresh linen  must  be  put  on  the  beds.  No  routine  work  may  be  left
unfinished; stockings  must  be  darned,  tears  mended,  clocks  wound  up,
musical instruments tuned, and pictures  hung  straight.  In  addition,  all
outstanding bills are paid,  overdue  letters  written  and  borrowed  books
returned. At least, that is the idea!
Most important of  all,  there  must  be  plenty  of  good  things  to  eat.
Innumerable homes “reek of celestial grocery” – plum  puddings  and  currant
buns, spices and cordials, apples and  lemons,  tangerines  and  toffee.  In
mansion and farmhouse, in suburban villa and city  tenement,  the  table  is
spread with festive fare. Essential to  Hogmanay  are  “cakes  and  kebbuck”
(oatcakes and cheese), shortbread, and either black  bun  or  currant  loaf.
There are flanked with bottles of wine and the “mountain dew”  that  is  the
poetic name for whisky.

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      In the cities and burghs, the New Year receives  a  communal  welcome,
the traditional gathering-place being the Mercat Cross, the hub  and  symbol
of the old burgh life. In Edinburgh, however,  the  crowd  has  slid  a  few
yards down the hill from the Mercat Cross to the Tron  Kirk  –  being  lured
thither, no doubt, by the four-faced  clock  in  the  tower.  As  the  night
advances, Princes Street becomes as thronged as it normally is at noon,  and
there is growing excitement in the air. Towards midnight, all steps turn  to
the Tron Kirk, where a lively, swaying crowd  awaits  “the  Chaplin  o’  the
Twal” (the striking of 12 o’clock). As the hands of the clock in  the  tower
approach the hour, a hush falls on the waiting throng, the atmosphere  grows
tense, and then suddenly there comes a  roar  from  a  myriad  throats.  The
bells forth, the sirens scream – the New Year is born!
      Many families prefer to bring in the New Year at home, with  music  or
dancing, cards or talk. As the evening advances, the fire is  piled  high  –
for the brighter  the  fire,  the  better  the  luck.  The  members  of  the
household seat themselves round the hearth, and when the hands of the  clock
approach the hour, the head of the house  rises,  goes  to  the  main  door,
opens it wide, and holds it thus until the last stroke of midnight has  died
away. Then he shuts it quietly and returns to the family circle. He has  let
the Old Year out and the New Year in. now  greetings  and  small  gifts  are
exchanged, glasses are filled – and already the  First-Footers  are  at  the
door.
      The First-Footer, on crossing the threshold, greets  the  family  with
“A gude New Year to ane and a’!” or simply “A Happy  New  Year!”  and  pours
out a glass from the flask he carries. This must be drunk to  the  dregs  by
the head of the house, who, in turn, pours out  a  glass  for  each  of  his
visitors. The glass handed to the First-Footer himself must  also  be  drunk
to the dregs. A popular toast is:
      “Your good health!”
      The First-Footers must take something to eat as well as to drink,  and
after an exchange of greetings they go off again on their rounds.


                      ST. VALENTINE’S DAY – FEBRUARY 14

      I’ll be your sweetheart, if you will be mine,
      All of my life I’ll be your Valentine …

      It’s here again, the day when boys and girls, sweethearts and  lovers,
husbands and wives, friends and neighbours, and even the office  staff  will
exchange greetings of affections, undying love  or  satirical  comment.  And
the quick, slick, modern way to do it is with a Valentine card.
      There are all kinds, to suit all  tastes,  the  lush  satin  cushions,
boxed and be-ribboned, the entwined  hearts,  gold  arrows,  roses,  cupids,
doggerel rhymes, sick sentiment and sickly sentimentality – it’s all  there.
The publishers made sure it was there, as Mr Punch complained, “there  weeks
in advance!”


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      In his magazine, Punch, as long ago as 1880 he  pointed  out  that  no
sooner was the avalanche of Christmas cards swept away than  the  publishers
began to fill the shops with their novel valentines,  full  of  “Hearts  and
Darts, Loves and Doves and Floating Fays and Flowers”.
      It must have been one of these cards which Charles  Dickens  describes
in Pickwick Papers. It was “a highly coloured representation of a couple  of
human hearts skewered together with an  arrow,  cooking  before  a  cheerful
fire” and “superintending  the  cooking”  was  a  “highly  indelicate  young
gentleman in a pair of wings and nothing else”.
      In the last century, sweet-hearts of  both  sexes  would  spend  hours
fashioning a homemade  card  or  present.  The  results  of  some  of  those
painstaking efforts are still  preserved  in  museums.  Lace,  ribbon,  wild
flowers, coloured paper, feathers and shells, all were brought into use.  If
the aspiring (or perspiring) lover had difficulty in thinking up  a  message
or rhyme there was help at hand. He could dip into the  quiver  of  Love  or
St. Valentine’s Sentimental Writer, these books giving varied selections  to
suit everyone’s choice. Sam Weller, of Pick wick Papers fame, took  an  hour
and a half to write his “Valentine”, with much  blotting  and  crossing  out
and warnings from his father not to descend to poetry.
      The first Valentine of all was  a  bishop,  a  Christian  martyr,  who
before the Romans put him  to  death  sent  a  note  of  friendship  to  his
jailer’s blind daughter.
      The Christian Church took for his saint’s day February  14;  the  date
of an old pagan festival when  young  Roman  maidens  threw  decorated  love
missives into an urn to be drawn out by their boy friends.
      A French writer who described how the guests of both sexes  drew  lots
for partners by writing down names on pieces of paper  noted  this  idea  of
lottery in 17th century England. “It is all the rage,” he wrote.
       But  apparently  to  bring  the  game  into  a  family  and  friendly
atmosphere one could withdraw  from  the  situation  by  paying  a  forfeit,
usually a pair of gloves.
      One of the older  versions  of  a  well-known  rhyme  gives  the  same
picture:

            The rose is red, the violets are blue,
            The honey’s sweet and so are you.
            Thou art my love and I am thine.
            I drew thee to my Valentine.
            The lot was cast and then I drew
           And fortune said it should be you.

      Comic valentines are also traditional. The habit of sending  gifts  is
dying  out,  which  must  be  disappointing  for  the   manufacturers,   who
nevertheless still hopefully dish out presents for  Valentine’s  Day  in  an
attempt to cash in. and the demand for valentines is  increasing.  According
to one manufacturer, an estimated 30 million cards will have  been  sent  by
January, 14 – and not all cheap stuff, either.

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      “Our cards cost from 6d to 15s 6d”, he says, but  “ardent  youngsters”
want to pay more.” They can  pay  more.  I  saw  a  red  satin  heart-shaped
cushion enthroning a “pearl” necklace and  earrings  for  25s.  Another,  in
velvet bordered with gold lace, topped with a  gilt  leaf  brooch,  was  21s
(and if anyone buys them … well, it must be love!).
      There are all kinds:
      The sick joke – reclining lady on the front, and inside she will “kick
you in the ear”.
      The satirical – “You are charming, witty, intelligent, etc.”, and  “if
you believe all this you must be …” – inside the card you find  an  animated
cuckoo clock.
      And the take-off of the sentimental – “Here’s the key to  my  heart  …
use it before I change the lock”.
      And the attempts to send a serious message without being  too  sickly,
ending with variations of “mine” and “thine” and “Valentine”.
      So in the  20th  century,  when  there  are  no  longer  any  bars  to
communication between the sexes, the  love  missives  of  an  older,  slower
time, edged carefully over the counters by the publishers  and  shopkeepers,
still surge through the letter boxes.



                                 PANCAKE DAY


      Pancake Day is the popular name for Shrove Tuesday, the day  preceding
the first day of Lent. In  medieval  times  the  day  was  characterized  by
merrymaking and feasting, a relic  of  which  is  the  eating  of  pancakes.
Whatever religious significance Shrove Tuesday may  have  possessed  in  the
olden days, it certainly has none now.  A  Morning  Star  correspondent  who
went to a cross-section of the people he knew to ask what  they  knew  about
Shrove Tuesday received these answers:
      “It’s the day when I say to my wife: ‘Why don’t we make pancakes?’ and
she says, ‘No, not this Tuesday! Anyway, we can make them any time.’”
      “It is a religious festival the significance of which escapes me. What
I do remember is that it is Pancake Day and we  as  children  used  to  brag
about how many pancakes we had eaten.”
      “It’s pancake day and also the day of the  student  rags.  Pancakes  –
luscious,  beautiful  pancakes.  I  never  know  the  date  –   bears   some
relationship to some holy day.”
      The origin of the festival is rather obscure, as is the origin of  the
custom of pancake eating.
      Elfrica Viport, in her book  on  Christian  Festivals,  suggests  that
since the ingredients of the pancakes  were  all  forbidden  by  the  Church
during Lent then they just had to be used up the day before.
      Nancy Price in a  book  called  Pagan’s  Progress  suggests  that  the
pancake was a “thin flat cake eaten to  stay  the  pangs  of  hunger  before
going to be shriven” (to confession).

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      In his Seasonal Feasts and Festivals  E.  O.  James  links  up  Shrove
Tuesday with the Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)  festivals  or  warmer  countries.
These jollifications were an integral element of  seasonal  ritual  for  the
purpose of promoting fertility and conquering the  malign  forces  of  evil,
especially at the approach of spring.”
      The most consistent form of celebration in the old days was  the  all-
over-town ball game or tug-of-war in  which  everyone  let  rip  before  the
traditional feast, tearing here and tearing there,  struggling  to  get  the
ball or rope into their part of the town. It seems that several dozen  towns
kept up these ball games until only a few years ago.
      E. O. James in his book records instances  where  the  Shrove  Tuesday
celebrations became pitched  battles  between  citizens  led  by  the  local
church authorities.
      Today the only custom that is consistently observed throughout Britain
is pancake eating, though  here  and  there  other  customs  still  seem  to
survive. Among the latter, Pancake Races,  the  Pancake  Greaze  custom  and
Ashbourne’s Shrovetide Football are the best known. Shrovetide is  also  the
time of Student Rags.



                               ST DAVID’S DAY


      On the 1st of March each year one can see people walking around London
with leeks pinned to their coats. À leek is the national  emblem  of  Wales.
The many Welsh people who live in London — or in other cities outside  Wales
— like to show their solidarity on their national day.
      The day is actually called Saint David’s Day, after  à  sixth  century
abbot who became patron  saint  of  Wales.  David  is  the  nearest  English
equivalent to the saint’s name, Dawi.
      The saint was known traditionally as  “the  Waterman”,  which  perhaps
means that he and his monks were teetotallers. À teetotaller is someone  who
drinks nî kind of alcohol, but it does not mean that he drinks only tea,  as
many people seem to think.
      In spite of the leeks mentioned earlier, Saint David’s emblem  is  not
that, but à dove. No one, not even the Welsh,  can  explain  why  they  took
leek to symbolize their country, but perhaps it  was  just  as  well.  After
all, they can't pin à dove to their coat!


                       MOTHERING SUNDAY (MOTHERS’ DAY)

      Mothers’ Day is traditionally observed on the fourth  Sunday  in  Lent
(the Church season of penitence beginning  on  Ash  Wednesday,  the  day  of
which varies from year to year). This is usually in March. The day  used  to
be known as Mothering Sunday and dates from the time when many girls  worked
away from home as domestic servants in big households, where their hours  of
work were often very long Mothering Sunday was established as a holyday  for
these girls and gave them an


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


opportunity of going home to see their  parents,  especially  their  mother.
They used to take presents with them, often given to them  by  the  lady  of
the house.
      When the labour situation changed and everyone was entitled to regular
time off, this custom  remained,  although  the  day  is  now  often  called
“Mothers’ Day”. People  visit  their  mothers  if  possible  and  give  them
flowers and small presents. If they cannot go  they  send  a  “Mothers’  Day
card”, or they may send one in any case. The family  try  to  see  that  the
mother has as little work to do as possible, sometimes
the husband or children take her breakfast in bed and they often  help  with
the meals and the washing up. It is considered to be mother’s day off.



                              St. Patrick’s Day


      It is not a national holiday. It’s an  Irish  religious  holiday.  St.
Patrick is the patron of Ireland. Irish and Irish  Americans  celebrate  the
day. On the day they decorate their houses and streets with green  shamrocks
and wear something green. In large cities long  parades  march  through  the
streets. Those who aren’t Irish themselves  also  wear  green  neckties  and
hair ribbons and take part in the celebration.



                                    ESTER


      During the Easter Holidays the attention of the progressive people  in
Great Britain and indeed throughout the world is riveted first and  foremost
on the Easter Peace Marches, which took place for the  first  time  in  1958
and have since become traditional.  The  people  who  participate  in  these
marches come from different  sections  of  society.  Alongside  workers  and
students march university professors, doctors,  scientists,  and  engineers.
More often than not the  columns  are  joined  by  progressive  people  from
abroad.
      The character of the marches has changed over  the  years.  The  high-
point was reached in the early sixties; this was  followed  by  a  lapse  in
enthusiasm when attendance fell off during  the  middle  and  late  sixties.
More recent years have seen a rise in the number  of  people  attending  the
annual Easter March, as global problems have begun to affect the  conscience
of a broader section of the English population.



                           London’s Easter Parade


      London greets the  spring,  and  its  early  visitors,  with  a  truly
spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park on Easter Sunday each  year.  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

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      advisable to find a vantage-point well before that  hour.  The  parade
consists of a great  many  interesting  and  decorated  floats,  entered  by
various organizations in and outside the  metropolis.  Some  of  the  finest
bands in the country take part in the parade. At the rear of the  parade  is
usually the very beautiful Jersey float, created from  thousands  of  lovely
spring blooms and bearing the Easter Princess and her attendants. It  is  an
afternoon to remember.



                              APRIL FOOLS’ DAY


      April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, named from the custom  of  playing
practical jokes or sending friends on fools’  errands,  on  April  1st.  Its
timing seems related to the vernal equinox, when nature fools  mankind  with
sudden changes from showers to sunshine. It is a  season  when  all  people,
even the most dignified, are given an excuse to  play  the  fool.  In  April
comes the cuckoo, emblem of simpletons; hence  in  Scotland  the  victim  is
called “cuckoo” or “gowk”, as in the verse: On the first day of April,  Hunt
the gowk another mile. Hunting the gowk  was  a  fruitless  errand;  so  was
hunting for hen’s teeth, for a square circle or for stirrup oil,  the  last-
named proving to be several strokes from a leather strap.



                          May Day in Great Britain


      As May 1st  is  not  a  public  holiday  in  Great  Britain,  May  Day
celebrations are traditionally held on the Sunday following it,  unless,  of
course, the 1st of May falls on  a  Sunday.  On  May  Sunday  workers  march
through the streets and hold meetings to voice their  own  demands  and  the
demands of other progressive forces of the country. The issues involved  may
include demands for higher wages and  better  working  conditions,  protests
against rising unemployment,  demands  for  a  change  in  the  Government’s
policy, etc.



                             May Spring Festival


      The 1st of May has also to some extent retained its  old  significance
— that of  à  pagan  spring  festival.  In  ancient  times  it  used  to  be
celebrated with garlands and flowers,  dancing  and  games  on  the  village
green. À Maypole was erected — a tall pole wreathed with flowers,  to  which
in later times ribbons were attached and held by the dancers. The girls  put
on their best summer frocks, plaited flowers in their hair and  round  their
waists and  eagerly  awaited  the  crowning  of  the  May  Queen.  The  most
beautiful girl was crowned with à  garland  of  flowers.  After  this  great
event Âåãå was dancing, often Morris dancing, with the  dancers  dressed  in
fancy costume, usually

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.

representing characters in the Robin Hood legend. May-Day games  and  sports
were followed by refreshments in the open.
      This festival was disliked by the Puritans and suppressed  during  the
Commonwealth, 1649 — 60. After  the  Restoration  it  was  revived  but  has
gradually almost died out. However, the Queen of  May  is  still  chosen  in
most counties, and in mànó  villages  school  Maypoles  are  erected  around
which the children dance. The famous ceremony of the meeting of the  1st  of
May still survives at Oxford, in Magdalen  College.  At  6  o’clock  in  the
morning the college choir gathers in the upper gallery of the college  tower
to greet the coming of the new day with song.


                             TROOPING ÒÍE COLOUR

      During the month of June, à day is set aside as the Queen’ s  official
birthday. This is usually the second Saturday in June.  On  this  day  there
takes place on Horse Guards’ Parade in Whitehall the  magnificent  spectacle
of Trooping the Colour, which begins at  about  11.15  à.  m.  (unless  rain
intervenes, when the ceremony is  usually  postponed  until  conditions  are
suitable).
      This is pageantry of ràrå splendour, with the Queen riding side-saddle
on à highly trained horse.
      The colours of one of the five regiments of Foot  Guards  are  trooped
before the Sovereign. As she rides on to Horse  Guards’  parade  the  massed
array of the Brigade of Guards, dressed in ceremonial  uniforms,  await  her
inspection.
      For twenty minutes the whole parade stands rigidly to attention  while
being inspected by the Queen. Then comes the Trooping  ceremony  itself,  to
be followed by the famous March Past of the Guards to the  music  of  massed
bands, at which the Queen takes the  Salute.  The  precision  drill  of  the
regiments is notable.
      The ceremony ends with the Queen returning to Buckingham Palace at the
head of her Guards.
      The Escort to the Colour, chosen normally  in  strict  rotation,  then
mounts guard at the Palace.



                               Midsummer's Day


      Midsummer's Day, June 24th, is the longest day of the  year.  On  that
day you can see a very old custom  at  Stonehenge,  in  Wiltshire,  England.
Stonehenge is one of Europe's biggest stone circles. A  lot  of  the  stones
are ten or twelve metres high. It's 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? We think 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


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


start of months and seasons. There are Druids in  Britain  today,  too.  And
every June 24th 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's  just  a
strange old custom.



                          LATE SUMMER BANK HOLIDAY


      On Bank Holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the  country  and  to
the coast. If the weather is fine many families take à 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, motor cycles  and  bicycles.  Great  amusement  parks  like
Southend Kursaal do à roaring trade with their   scenic  railways,  shooting
galleries, water-shoots, Crazy Houses, Hunted Houses  and  so  on.  Trippers
will wear comic paper hats with slogans such as “Kiss Ìå  Quick”,  and  they
will eat and drink the weirdest mixture of stuff you can imagine,  sea  food
like cockles, mussels, whelks, shrimps  and  fried  fish  and  chips,  candy
floss, beer, tea, soft, drinks, everything you can imagine.
      Bank Holiday is also an occasion for big  sports  meetings  at  places
like the White City Stadium, mainly all kinds of athletics. There  are  also
horse ràñe meetings all over the  country,  and  most  traditional  of  all,
there are large fairs with swings, roundabouts, coconut shies, à  Punch  and
Judy show, hoop-la stalls and every kind of side-show including,  in  recent
years, bingo. These fairs are pitched on open spaces  of  common  land,  and
the most famous of them is the huge one on Hampstead Heath near  London.  It
is at Hampstead Heath you will see the Pearly Kings, those  Cockney  costers
(street traders), who wear suits or frocks  with  thousands  of  tiny  pearl
buttons stitched all over them, also over their caps and hats,  in  case  of
their Queens. They hold horse and cart parades in  which  prizes  are  given
for the smartest turn out.  Horses  and  carts  are  gaily  decorated.  Many
Londoners will visit Whipsnade Zoo. There is also much boating  activity  on
the Thames, regattas at Henley and on other rivers, and the English  climate
being what it is, it invariably rains.


                               Happy Hampstead

      August Bank Holiday would not be à real holiday for tens of  thousands
of Londoners without the Fair on Hampstead Heath!
      Those who know London will know were to find the  Heath  –  that  vast
stretch of open woodland which sprawls across two hills, bounded by  Golders
Green and Highgate to the west and east, and by  Hampstead  itself  and  Ken
Wood to the south and north.
      The site of the fair ground is near to Hampstead Heath  station.  From
that station to the ground runs à broad road which is blocked with à  solid,
almost

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


immovable mass of humanity on those days when the fair is open. The walk  is
not more than à quarter of à mile, but it takes an average of  half-an  hour
to cover it when the crowd is at its thickest.
      But being on that road is comfortable compared with what  it  is  like
inside the fair ground itself. Íåãå there are, hundreds of  stalls  arranged
in broad avenues inside a huge square bounded by the caravans  of  the  show
people and the lorries containing the generating plants  which  provide  the
stalls with their electricity.
      The noise  is  deafening.  Mechanical  bands  and  the  cries  of  the
“barkers” (the showmen who stand  outside  the  booths  and  by  the  stalls
shouting to the crowds to come and  try  their  luck  are  equalled  by  the
laughter of the visitors and the din of machinery.
      The visitors themselves are looking for fun, and they find it in  full
measure. There are fortune-tellers  and  rifle-ranges  and  “bumping  cars”,
there are bowling alleys  and  dart  boards  and  coconut  shies.  There  is
something for everybody.
      And for the lucky ones, or for those with more skill than most,  there
are prizes — table lamps and clocks and à hundred and one  other  things  of
value.
      À visit to the  fair  at  Happy  Hampstead  is  something  not  easily
forgotten. It is noisy, it is exhausting — but  it  is  as  exhilarating  an
experience as any in the world.


                                 HENRY WOOD

                             PROMENADE CONCERTS


                                         “Ladies and gentlemen — the Proms!”

      Amongst music-lovers in Britain — and,  indeed,  in  very  many  other
countries —  the  period  between  July  and  September  21  is  à  time  of
excitement, of anticipation, of great enthusiasm.
      We are in the middle of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts — the Proms.

      London music-lovers are particularly fortunate, for those who are able
to obtain tickets can attend the  concerts  in  person.  Every  night  at  7
î'clock (Sunday excepted) à vast audience  assembled  at  the  Royal  Albert
Hall rises for the playing  and  singing  of  the  National  Anthem.  À  few
minutes later, when seats have been resumed, the first work of  the  evening
begins.
      But even if seats are not to be obtained, the important parts  of  the
concerts can be heard — and are heard — by à very great  number  of  people,
because the ÂÂÑ broadcasts certain principal works  every  night  throughout
the season. The audience  reached  by  this  means  is  estimated  to  total
several millions in Britain alone, and that total is  probably  equalled  by
the number of listeners abroad.
      The reason why such à great audience is attracted is  that  the  Proms
present every year à large repertoire of  classical  works  under  the  best
conductors and with the best artists. À  season  provides  an  anthology  of
masterpieces.


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      The Proms started in 1895 when Sir Henry Wood formed the Queen’s  Hall
Orchestra. The purpose of the venture was to provide classical music  to  as
many people who cared to come at à price all could afford to pay,  those  of
lesser means being charged comparatively little — one shilling  —  to  enter
the Promenade, where standing was the rule.
      The coming of the last war ended two Proms’ traditions. The first  was
that in 1939 it was nî longer possible to perform to London audiences —  the
whole organization was evacuated to Bristol. The second was that  the  Proms
couldn’t return to the Queen’s Hall after the war was  over  —  the  Queen’s
Hall had become à casualty of the air-raids (in 1941), and was gutted.



                                  HALLOWEEN


      Halloween means "holy  evening"  and  takes  place  on  October  31st.
Although it is à 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  à
candle inside, which shines through their eyes. People play different  games
such as trying to eat an apple from à bucket of water  without  using  their
hands.
      In recent years children dressed in white sheets  knock  on  doors  at
Halloween and ask if you would like à “trick” or “treat”. If you  give  them
something nice, à “treat”, they go away. However, if you don’t, they play  à
“trick” on you, such as making à lot of noise  or  spilling  flour  on  your
front doorstep.



                GUY FAWKES NIGHT (BONFIRE NIGHT) — NOVEMBER 5


      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 à group of Roman Catholics as à  protest  against  anti-Papist
measures. In May 1604 the conspirators rented à house  adjoining  the  House
of Lords, from which they dug à tunnel to à 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 à kinsman, Lord Monteagle, warning

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


him to stay away from the House of Lords. On November 4 à  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
lives.
    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
October.


                              St. Andrew’s 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  Andrew’s  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 men’s dress  and  the
men wearing female
Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.

attire, visiting one another’s 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 CELEBRATIONS


      Christmas Day is observed on the 25th of December. In Britain this day
was à 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  ‘mother’s  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 à  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,  à  time
for eating, drinking and making merry.
      However, despite the  popularity  of  Christmas,  quite  à  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 à real spree once à 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  à  national
institution among the  working  class  and  lower-middle  class.  These  are
generally run by shopkeepers and publicans over  à  period  of  about  eight
weeks or longer. Into these the housewives pay each week  à  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 à  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  à
family has to do without things they really need,  it  inevitably  leads  to
resentment towards the
festival. Needless to say that it isn’t 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
proportion.



                           The Christmas Pantomime


      À pantomime is à traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is
meant for children, but adults enjoy just as much. It is à very old form  of
entertainment, and can be traced back  to  16th  century  Italian  comedies.
Harlequin is à character from these old comedies.
      There have been à 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 à hero, à heroine, and à 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  à  girl.
The principal girl is the heroine, who always marries the principal  boy  in
the end. The dame is à comic figure, usually the  mother  of  the  principal
boy or girl, and is always played by à man.
       In addition, you can be sure there will always be à “good fairy”  and
à “bad fairy” — perhaps an ogre or à demon king.
      Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone  has  à  new
idea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date. There are pantomimes  on
ice, with all the actors skating; pantomimes with à  well-known  pop  singer
as the principal boy or girl; or pantomimes with à famous comedian from  the
English theatre as the dame. But the old stories remain, side by  side  with
the new ideas.



                                 BOXING DAY


      This is the day when one visits friends, goes for à 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 à  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 à sitting.



                        ELECTING LONDON’S LORD MAYOR


      One of the most important functions of the City’s  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 Ìàóîr  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  Ìàóîr  of  London.  From  the
selected two, the Court of Aldermen will choose  one.  The  Ìàóîr,  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 Ìàóîr and the Mayor Elect  leave  the  Guildhall  the  state
coach for the Mansion House.



               II. Customs, Weddings, Births and Christenings.


                               GETTING ENGAGED


      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 à rule, an engagement is announced as soon as à  girl  has
accepted à proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is done  à  good  time
afterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the  girl’s  parents  should  be
the first to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often  the  couple’s
friends who are taken into confidence before either of  the  parents.  If  à
man has not yet met his future in-laws he does so at the first  opportunity,
whereas his parents usually write them à friendly letter. It is then  up  to
the girl’s mother to invite her daughter’s future  in-laws,  to  à  meal  or
drinks. Quite often, of course, the man has been à frequent visitor  at  the
girl’s house long before the engagement,  and  their  families  are  already
well acquainted.
      When à girl accepts à proposal, the man generally gives her à 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 à 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,  à  man
should have à talk with the girl’s 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 à  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
girl’s or the man’s people. Housing shortage in Britain is still acute,  and
the rents are very high.  It  is  extremely  difficult  to  get  unfurnished
accommodation, whereas à furnished room, which is easier  to  get,  costs  à
great deal for rent. In any case, the young couple may prefer to  live  with
the parents in order to have à 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  girl’s,  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 à matter of choice and circumstances.



                                The Ceremony


      The parents and close relatives of the bride and groom  arrive  à  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 bride’s veil before she goes up the aisle.
      The bride, by tradition, arrives à 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 father’s 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
bouquet.


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 à close relation  such
as à grandmother. The bride throws back her veil or removes the front  piece
(if it is removable), the verger gives à 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 bride’s mother walks down  the  aisle  on  the
left arm of the bridegroom’s father and the bridegroom’s mother  walks  down
on the left arm of the bride’s  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 à  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 à Certificate of Publication  which  is  displayed  for
seven days, and it will be valid for three months in any place in  Scotland.

      Marriage at à registry office in Scotland requires  à  publication  of
notice for seven days or à sheriff’s licence, as  publication  of  banns  is
not accepted. Such à 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 à solicitor.



                                The Reception


      The bride’s 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 à 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 husband’s hand upon hers.
      The toast to the bride and groom is usually proposed by à relative  or
friend of the bride. Íå may say, “Mó 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.” Íå should  not
make à speech full of jokes or silly references to marriage.  It  should  be
short and dignified. The bridegroom replies with à few words of  thanks.  Íå
màó or màó not then propose the health of  the  bridesmaids.  The  best  man
replies with à few words of thanks. If à meal is provided, the  toasts  will
come at the end of it.

      After the toasts the bride and groom màó 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 à future home. Some brides have lists  at  à  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. À wedding is one of the few occasions when money can be given,  usually
as à cheque. Presents are sent after the  invitations  have  been  received,
usually to the bride’s home. You address the card  to  both  the  bride  and
bridegroom.



                           BIRTHS AND CHRISTENINGS


      When à child is born its parents may wish to announce the birth  in  à
national or local newspaper. The announcement may read as follows:

      Smith. On February 12th, 1999, at St. Ìàãó's Hospital, Paddington,  to
      Ìàãó, wife of James Smith, 15 Blank Terrace,  S.  W.  3,  à  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.  À  child  is
usually christened in the first six months of its life.
      At the christening there is one godmother and two godfathers for à boy
and vice versa for à girl (but no godparents are necessary at  à  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  à
christening present. Traditionally, the godparents give à silver cup,  which
is probably going to be far more useful if it is à beer mug! Other  presents
should preferably be something

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


intended to last à lifetime, such as à leather-bound bible or  poetry  book,
à silver spoon or à 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  î'clock,  as  during
the rest of the week, most people stay in bed for  at  least  another  hour.
And there are many younger ðåoplå — 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 sî much à 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 ñàã, shelling peas or chopping  mint
for Sunday lunch, or taking the dog for à walk. Another  most  popular  pre-
lunch activity consists of à visit to  à  “pub”  —  either  à  walk  to  the
“lîñàl”, or often nowadays à drive to à more pleasant “country pub”  if  one
lives in à built-up area. It is unusual for anyone tî drink à lot  during  à
lunchtime “session”, the idea being to  have  à  quiet  drink  and  à  chat,
perhaps discussing  the  previous  evening’s  entertainment  or  afternoon’s
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 à favourite day for inviting people —  friends,
relations, colleagues — to afternoon tea, and there are nî signs  that  this
custom is losing popularity
nowadays.
      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 à typically English  Sunday  and  à
Sunday on the Continent, there are still many forms of  entertainment  which
à 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,
bullfighting.

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 ð. m. and  6  ð.  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.



                                 FIREPLACES


      In English homes, the fireplace has always been, until  recent  times,
the natural centre of interest in à room.  People  may  like  to  sit  at  à
window on à 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 à
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  à  shelf
on which there was often à clock, and perhaps framed photographs.



                                   DANCING


      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  officeñå,  relying  much  on  each  other’s
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 à  man  chooses  à  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 à couple like one another



Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.


      the young man may offer an invitation to go to à cinema on some future
night, and this invitation may be succeeded by others.  After  several  ðrå-
arranged meetings à
couple may regard themselves as “going steady” together though  for  à  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.



                          III. COSTUMES AND CLOTHES


      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 she’s not a real  person.  She  is  symbol  of
Britain.
          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.



                                Introduction.

      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 it’s really interesting and exciting for me to know  more
about the customs and traditions that came to people’s  life  many  hundreds
years ago. I’m 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.



                                 Conclusion.

      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
project.





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