Реферат: Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

Holidays andtraditions in English – speaking countries.

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         There are only six public holidays ayear 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 BankHoliday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Year’s Day is also apublic holiday. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it wouldbe right to say that for the greater part of the population they have long losttheir religious significance and are simply days on which people relax, eat,drink and make merry. All the public holidays, except Christmas Day and BoxingDay observed on December 25th and 26th respectively, aremovable, that is they do not fall on the same day each year. Good Friday andEaster Monday depend on Easter Sunday which falls on the first Sunday after afull moon on or after March 21st. the Spring Bank Holiday falls onthe last Monday of May or on the first Monday of June, while the Late SummerBank Holiday comes on the last Monday in August or on the first Monday inSeptember, depending on which of the Mondays is nearer to June 1stand September 1st respectively.

Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries andsimply days, for example Pancake Day and Bonfire Night, on which certaintraditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, they are ordinaryworking days.


In Englandthe 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 NewYear’s Eve. Many others, however, do celebration it in one way or another, thetype of celebration varying very much according to the local custom, familytraditions and personal taste.

         Themost common type of celebration is a New Year party, either a family party orone arranged by a group of young people. This usually begins at about eighto’clock and goes on until the early hours of the morning. There is a lot ofdrinking, mainly beer, wine, gin and whisky; sometimes the hosts make a bigbowl of punch which consists of wine, spirits, fruit juice and water in varyingproportions. There is usually a buffer of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savouries,cakes and biscuits. At midnight the wireless is turned on, so that everyone canhear the chimes of Big Ben, and on the hour a toast is drunk to the New Year.Then the party goes on.

         Anotherpopular way of celebrating the New Year is to go to a New Year’s dance. Mosthotels and dance halls hold a special dance on New Year’s Eve. The hall isdecorated, there are several different bands and the atmosphere is very gay.

         Themost famous celebration is in London round the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circuswhere crowds gather and sing and welcome the New Year. In

Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.

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Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd andsomeone usually falls into the fountain.

Thosewho have no desire or no opportunity to celebrate the New Year themselves cansit and watch other people celebrating on television. It is an indication ofthe relative unimportance of the New Year in England that the televisionproducers seem unable to find any traditional English festivities for theirprogrammers and usually show Scottish ones.

         January1st, New Year’s Day, is not a public holiday, unfortunately forthose who like to celebrate most of the night. Some people send New Year cardsand give presents but this is not a widespread custom. This is the traditionaltime for making “New Year resolutions”, for example, to give up smoking, or toget up earlier. However, these are generally more talked about than put intopractice.

         Alsoon 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 CanadaNew Year’s Day has a long tradition of celebration.New Year’s Eve in French Canada was (and still is) marked by the custom ofgroups 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 forpaying calls on friends and neighboursand for asking the blessing of the head of thefamily. The early Governors held a public reception for the men of thecommunity 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 FrenchCanada, it’s a public holiday throughout the country. Wide spread merry-makingbegins on New Year’s Eve with house parties, dinner dances and special theatreentertainment. A customary feature of the occasion that suggests the Scottishcontribution to the observation is the especially those that couldn’t bearranged for Christmas, are held on New Year’s Day. New Year isn’t such important holiday inEngland as Christmas. Some people don’t celebrate it at all.

In USAmany people have New Year parties. A party usuallybegins at about 8 o’clock and goes on until early morning. At midnight theylisten to the chimes of Big Ben, drink a toast to the New Year and Sing AuldLang Syne.

InLondoncrowds usually gather round the statue of Eros inPiccadilly Circus and welcome the New Year.

Thereare 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 believesthat he brings luck. This man (not a woman) must be healthy, young, prettylooking. He brings presents-bread, a piece of coal or a coin. On the New Year’sDay families watch the old year out and the New Year in.


Holidays and traditions in English – speaking countries.

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InScotlandthe New Year’s Day is also a public holiday. Somepeople ignore it completely and go to bed at the same time as usual on NewYear’s Eve. Many others, however, do celebrate it in one way or another, thetype of celebration varying very much according to the local custom, family traditionand personal taste.

The most common type of celebration is a New Year party, either afamily party or one arranged by a group of young people. This usually begins atabout eight o’clock and goes on until the early hours of the morning. There isa lot of drinking, mainly beer, wine, gin and whisky; sometimes the hosts makea big bowl of punch which consists of wine, spirits, fruit juice and water invarying proportions. There is usually a buffet supper of cold meat, pies,sandwiches, savories, cakes and biscuits. At midnight the wireless is turnedon, so that everyone can hear the chimes of Big Ben, and on the hour a toast isdrunk to the New Year. Then the party goes on.

Hogmanay Celebrations

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

The Night of Hogmanay

Nowhereelse in Britain is the arrival of the New Year celebrated so wholeheartedly asin Scotland.

ThroughoutScotland, the preparations for greeting the New Year start with a minor“spring-cleaning”. Brass and silver must be glittering and fresh linen must beput on the beds. No routine work may be left unfinished; stockings must bedarned, tears mended, clocks wound up, musical instruments tuned, and pictureshung straight. In addition, all outstanding bills are paid, overdue letterswritten and borrowed books returned. At least, that is the idea!

Mostimportant of all, there must be plenty of good things to eat. Innumerable homes“reek of celestial grocery” – plum puddings and currant buns, spices andcordials, apples and lemons, tangerines and toffee. In mansion and farmhouse,in suburban villa andcity tenement, the table is spread with festive fare. Essential to Hogmanay are“cakes and kebbuck” (oatcakes and cheese), shortbread, and either black bun orcurrant loaf. There are flanked with bottles of wine and the “mountain dew”that is the poetic name for whisky.

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Inthe cities and burghs, the New Year receives a communal welcome, thetraditional gathering-place being the Mercat Cross, the hub and symbol of theold burgh life. In Edinburgh, however, the crowd has slid a few yards down thehill from the Mercat Cross to the Tron Kirk – being lured thither, no doubt, bythe four-faced clock in the tower. As the night advances, Princes Streetbecomes as thronged as it normally is at noon, and there is growing excitementin 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). Asthe hands of the clock in the tower approach the hour, a hush falls on thewaiting throng, the atmosphere grows tense, and then suddenly there comes aroar from a myriad throats. The bells forth, the sirens scream – the New Yearis born!

         Manyfamilies prefer to bring in the New Year at home, with music or dancing, cardsor talk. As the evening advances, the fire is piled high – for the brighter thefire, the better the luck. The members of the household seat themselves roundthe hearth, and when the hands of the clock approach the hour, the head of thehouse rises, goes to the main door, opens it wide, and holds it thus until thelast stroke of midnight has died away. Then he shuts it quietly and returns tothe family circle. He has let the Old Year out and the New Year in. nowgreetings and small gifts are exchanged, glasses are filled – and already theFirst-Footers are at the door.

         TheFirst-Footer, on crossing the threshold, greets the family with “A gude NewYear to ane and a’!” or simply “A Happy New Year!” and pours out a glass fromthe 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 tothe First-Footer himself must also be drunk to the dregs. A popular toast is:

         “Yourgood health!”

         TheFirst-Footers must take something to eat as well as to drink, and after anexchange of greetings they go off again on their rounds.


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<span Comic Sans MS";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">I’ll beyour sweetheart, if you will be mine,

<span Comic Sans MS";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">All ofmy life I’ll be your Valentine …

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It’shere again, the day when boys and girls, sweethearts and lovers, husbands andwives, friends and neighbours, and even the office staff will exchangegreetings of affections, undying love or satirical comment. And the quick,slick, modern way to do it is with a Valentine card.

Thereare all kinds, to suit all tastes, the lush satin cushions, boxed andbe-ribboned, the entwined hearts, gold arrows, roses, cupids, doggerel rhymes,sick sentiment and sickly sentimentality – it’s all there. The publishers madesure it was there, as Mr Punch complained, “there weeks in advance!”

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Inhis magazine, Punch, as long ago as 1880 he pointed out that no soonerwas the avalanche of Christmas cards swept away than the publishers began tofill the shops with their novel valentines, full of “Hearts and Darts, Lovesand Doves and Floating Fays and Flowers”.

It must have been one of these cards which Charles Dickens describes in PickwickPapers. It was “a highly coloured representation of a couple of humanhearts skewered together with an arrow, cooking before a cheerful fire” and“superintending the cooking” was a “highly indelicate young gentleman in a pairof wings and nothing else”.

         In the last century, sweet-hearts ofboth sexes would spend hours fashioning a homemade card or present. The resultsof some of those painstaking efforts are still preserved in museums. Lace,ribbon, wild flowers, coloured paper, feathers and shells, all were broughtinto use. If the aspiring (or perspiring) lover had difficulty in thinking up amessage or rhyme there was help at hand. He could dip into the quiver ofLove or St. Valentine’s Sentimental Writer, these books givingvaried selections to suit everyone’s choice. Sam Weller, of Pick wick Papersfame, took an hour and a half to write his “Valentine”, with much blottingand crossing out and warnings from his father not to descend to poetry.

         The first Valentine of all was abishop, a Christian martyr, who before the Romans put him to death sent a noteof friendship to his jailer’s blind daughter.

         The Christian Church took for hissaint’s day February 14; the date of an old pagan festival when young Romanmaidens threw decorated love missives into an urn to be drawn out by their boyfriends.

         A French writer who described how theguests of both sexes drew lots for partners by writing down names on pieces ofpaper noted this idea of lottery in 17th century England. “It is all the rage,”he wrote.

         But apparently to bring the game into afamily and friendly atmosphere one could withdraw from the situation by payinga forfeit, usually a pair of gloves.

         One of the older versions of awell-known rhyme gives the same picture:

<span Comic Sans MS"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">                Therose is red, the violets are blue,

<span Comic Sans MS"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">                Thehoney’s sweet and so are you.

<span Comic Sans MS"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">                Thouart my love and I am thine.

<span Comic Sans MS"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">                Idrew thee to my Valentine.

<span Comic Sans MS"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">                Thelot was cast and then I drew

<span Comic Sans MS";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">And fortune said it shouldbe you.

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

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“Our cards cost from 6d to 15s 6d”, he says, but “ardent youngsters” wantto pay more.” They can pay more. I saw a red satin heart-shaped cushionenthroning a “pearl” necklace and earrings for 25s. Another, in velvet borderedwith gold lace, topped with a gilt leaf brooch, was 21s (and if anyone buysthem … well, it must be love!).

There are all kinds:

The sick joke – reclining lady on the front, and inside she will “kickyou in the ear”.

The satirical – “You are charming, witty, intelligent, etc.”, and “ifyou believe all this you must be …” – inside the card you find an animatedcuckoo clock.

And the take-off of the sentimental – “Here’s the key to my heart … useit 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 tocommunication between the sexes, the love missives of an older, slower time,edged carefully over the counters by the publishers and shopkeepers, stillsurge through the letter boxes.


Pancake Day is the popular name for Shrove Tuesday, the day precedingthe first day of Lent. In medieval times the day was characterized bymerrymaking and feasting, a relic of which is the eating of pancakes. Whateverreligious significance Shrove Tuesday may have possessed in the olden days, itcertainly has none now. A Morning Star correspondent who went to across-section of the people he knew to ask what they knew about Shrove Tuesdayreceived these answers:

“It’s the day when I say to my wife: ‘Why don’t we make pancakes?’ andshe says, ‘No, not this Tuesday! Anyway, we can make them any time.’”

“It is a religious festival the significance of which escapes me. What Ido remember is that it is Pancake Day and we as children used to brag about howmany 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 relationshipto some holy day.”

The origin of the festival is rather obscure, as is the origin of thecustom of pancake eating.

Elfrica Viport, in her book on Christian Festivals, suggests that sincethe ingredients of the pancakes were all forbidden by the Church during Lentthen they just had to be used up the day before.

Nancy Price in a book called Pagan’s Progress suggests that thepancake was a “thin flat cake eaten to stay the pangs of hunger before going tobe shriven” (to confession).

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In his Seasonal Feasts and Festivals E. O. James links up ShroveTuesday with the Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) festivals or warmer countries. Thesejollifications were an integral element of seasonal ritual for the purpose ofpromoting fertility and conquering the malign forces of evil, especially at theapproach of spring.”

The most consistent form of celebration in the old days was theall-over-town ball game or tug-of-war in which everyone let rip before thetraditional feast, tearing here and tearing there, struggling to get the ballor rope into their part of the town. It seems that several dozen towns kept upthese ball games until only a few years ago.

E. O. James in his book records instances where the Shrove Tuesdaycelebrations became pitched battles between citizens led by the local churchauthorities.

Today the only custom that is consistently observed throughout Britainis pancake eating, though here and there other customs still seem to survive.Among the latter, Pancake Races, the Pancake Greaze custom and Ashbourne’sShrovetide Football are the best known. Shrovetide is also the time of StudentRags.


On the 1st of March each year one can see people walkingaround London with leeks pinned to their coats. Аleek is the nationalemblem of Wales. The many Welsh people who live in London — or in other citiesoutside Wales — like to show their solidarity on their national day.

The day is actually called Saint David’s Day, after аsixth century abbot who became patron saint of Wales. David is the nearestEnglish equivalent to the saint’s name, Dawi.

The saint was known traditionally as “the Waterman”, which perhaps meansthat he and his monks wereteetotallers. А teetotallerissomeone who drinks nоkind of alcohol, but itdoes 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 notthat, but аdove. No one, not even the Welsh, can explain whythey took leek to symbolize their country, but perhaps it was just as well. After all, they can't pin аdove to their coat!


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

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opportunity of going home to see their parents,especially their mother. They used to take presents with them, often given tothem by the lady of the house.

Whenthe 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 smallpresents. If they cannot go they send a “Mothers’ Day card”, or they may sendone in any case. The family try to see that the mother has as little work to doas possible, sometimes

thehusband or children take her breakfast in bed and they often help with themeals and the washing up. It is considered to be mother’s day off.

St. Patrick’s Day

It is not anational holiday. It’s an Irish religious holiday. St. Patrick is the patron ofIreland. Irish and Irish Americans celebrate the day. On the day they decoratetheir houses and streets with green shamrocks and wear something green. Inlarge cities long parades march through the streets. Those who aren’t Irishthemselves also wear green neckties and hair ribbons and take part in thecelebration.<span Courier New";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US">

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Duringthe Easter Holidays the attention of the progressive people in Great Britainand indeed throughout the world is riveted first and foremost on the EasterPeace Marches, which took place for the first time in 1958 and have sincebecome traditional. The people who participate in these marches come fromdifferent sections of society. Alongside workers and students march universityprofessors, doctors, scientists, and engineers. More often than not the columnsare joined by progressive people from abroad.

The character of the marches has changed over the years. The high-pointwas reached in the early sixties; this was followed by a lapse in enthusiasmwhen attendance fell off during the middle and late sixties. More recent yearshave seen a rise in the number of people attending the annual Easter March, asglobal problems have begun to affect the conscience of a broader section of theEnglish population.

London’s Easter Parade

London greets the spring, and its early visitors, with a trulyspectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park on Easter Sunday each year. It issponsored by the London Tourist Board and is usually planned around a centraltheme related to the history and attractions of London. The great procession,or parade, begins at 3 p. m., but it is

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


April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, named from the custom of playingpractical jokes or sending friends on fools’ errands, on April 1st.Its timing seems related to the vernal equinox, when nature fools mankind withsudden changes from showers to sunshine. It is a season when all people, eventhe most dignified, are given an excuse to play the fool. In April comes thecuckoo, 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 anothermile. Hunting the gowk was a fruitless errand; so was hunting for hen’steeth, for a square circle or for stirrup oil, the last-named proving to beseveral strokes from a leather strap.

May Day in Great Britain

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

May Spring Festival

         The1st of May has also to some extent retained its old significance — that of аpagan spring festival. In ancient times it used to be celebrated with garlandsand flowers, dancing and games on the village green. А Maypole was erected — atall pole wreathed with flowers, to which in later times ribbons were attachedand held by the dancers. The girls put on their best summer frocks, plaitedflowers in their hair and round their waists and eagerly awaited the crowningof the May Queen. The most beautiful girl was crowned with а garland offlowers. After this great event Веге was dancing, often Morris dancing, withthe dancers dressed in fancy costume, usually

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representingcharacters in the Robin Hood legend. May-Day games and sports were followed byrefreshments in the open.

This festival was disliked by the Puritans and suppressed during theCommonwealth, 1649 — 60. After the Restoration it was revived but has graduallyalmost died out. However, the Queen of May is still chosen in most counties,and in mаnу villages school Maypoles are erected around which the childrendance. The famous ceremony of the meeting of the 1st of May still survives atOxford, in Magdalen College. At 6 o’clock in the morning the college choirgathers in the upper gallery of the college tower to greet the coming of thenew day with song.


During the month of June, а day is set aside as the Queen’ s officialbirthday. This is usually the second Saturday in June. On this day there takesplace on Horse Guards’ Parade in Whitehall the magnificent spectacle of Troopingthe Colour, which begins at about 11.15 а. m. (unless rain intervenes, whenthe ceremony is usually postponed until conditions are suitable).

This is pageantry of rаrе splendour, with the Queen riding side-saddleon а highly trained horse.

The colours of one of the five regiments of Foot Guards are troopedbefore the Sovereign. As she rides on to Horse Guards’ parade the massed arrayof the Brigade of Guards, dressed in ceremonial uniforms, await her inspection.

For twenty minutes the whole parade stands rigidly to attention whilebeing inspected by the Queen. Then comes the Trooping ceremony itself, to befollowed 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 isnotable.

The ceremony ends with the Queen returning to Buckingham Palace at thehead of her Guards.

The Escort to the Colour, chosen normally in strict rotation, thenmounts guard at the Palace.

Midsummer's Day

Midsummer's Day, June 24th, is the longest day ofthe 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. Alot of the stones are ten or twelve metreshigh.It's also very old. The earliest part of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old.

But what was Stonehenge? A holyplace? A market? Or was it a kind of calendar? We think the Druids used it fora calendar. The Druids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge toknow the

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start of months and seasons. Thereare Druids in Britain today, too. And every June 24th a lot of them go to Stonehenge.On that morning the sun shineson one famous stone — the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a veryimportant moment in the year. Butfor a lot of British people it's just a strange old custom.


On Bank Holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to thecoast. If the weather is fine many families take а picnic-lunch or tea withthem 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 аroaring trade with their  scenicrailways, shooting galleries, water-shoots, Crazy Houses, Hunted Houses and soon. Trippers will wear comic paper hats with slogans such as “Kiss Ме Quick”,and they will eat and drink the weirdest mixture of stuff you can imagine, seafood like cockles, mussels, whelks, shrimps and fried fish and chips, candyfloss, beer, tea, soft, drinks, everything you can imagine.

Bank Holiday is also an occasion for big sports meetings at places likethe White City Stadium, mainly all kinds of athletics. There are also horserасe meetings all over the country, and most traditional of all, there arelarge fairs with swings, roundabouts, coconut shies, а 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 ofthem is the huge one on Hampstead Heath near London. It is at Hampstead Heathyou will see the Pearly Kings, those Cockney costers (street traders), who wearsuits 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 andcart parades in which prizes are given for the smartest turn out. Horses andcarts are gaily decorated. Many Londoners will visit Whipsnade Zoo. There isalso much boating activity on the Thames, regattas at Henley and on otherrivers, and the English climate being what it is, it invariably rains.


August Bank Holiday would not be аreal holiday for tens ofthousands of Londoners without the Fair on Hampstead Heath!

Those who know London will know were to find the Heath – that vaststretch of open woodland which sprawls across two hills, bounded by GoldersGreen and Highgate to the west and east, and by Hampstead itself and Ken Woodto the southand north.

The site of the fair ground is near to Hampstead Heath station. Fromthat station to the ground runs аbroad road which is blockedwith аsolid, almost

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immovablemass of humanity on those days when the fair is open. The walk is not more thanаquarter of аmile, but it takes anaverage 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 likeinside the fair ground itself. Негеthere are, hundreds of stalls arranged inbroad avenues inside a huge square bounded by the caravans of the show peopleand the lorries containing the generating plants which provide the stalls withtheir 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 thecrowds to come and try their luck are equalled by the laughter of thevisitors andthe din ofmachinery.

The visitors themselves are looking for fun, and they find it in fullmeasure. There are fortune-tellers and rifle-ranges and “bumping cars”, thereare bowling alleys and dart boards and coconut shies. There is something foreverybody.

And for the lucky ones, or for those with more skill than most, thereare prizes — table lamps and clocks and аhundred and one otherthings of value.

Аvisitto the fair at Happy Hampstead is something not easily forgotten. It is noisy,it is exhausting — but it is as exhilarating an experienceas any in the world.


PROMENADE CONCERTS<span Arial Unicode MS"">

“Ladiesand gentlemen — the Proms!”

Amongst music-lovers in Britain — and, indeed, in very many othercountries — the period between July and September 21 is аtime 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 ableto obtain tickets can attend the concerts in person. Every night at 7 о'clock(Sunday excepted) аvast audience assembled at the Royal Albert Hall rises for the playingand singing of the National Anthem. Аfew minutes later, whenseats have been resumed, the first work of the evening begins.

But even if seats are not to be obtained, the important parts of theconcerts can be heard — and are heard — by аvery great number ofpeople, because the ВВСbroadcasts certain principal works every nightthroughout the season. The audience reached by thismeans is estimated to total several millions in Britain alone, and that totalis probably equalled by the number of listeners abroad.

The reason why such аgreat audience is attracted is that the Promspresent every year аlarge repertoire of classical works under thebest conductors and with the best artists. Аseason provides ananthology of masterpieces.

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The Proms started in 1895 when Sir Henry Wood formed the Queen’s HallOrchestra. The purpose of the venture was to provide classical music to as manypeople who cared to come at аprice all could afford topay, those of lesser means being chargedcomparatively little — one shilling — to enter the Promenade, where standingwas the rule.

The coming of the last war ended two Proms’ traditions. The first wasthat in 1939 it was nоlonger possible to perform to London audiences— the whole organization was evacuated to Bristol. Thesecond was that the Proms couldn’t return to the Queen’s Hall after the war wasover — the Queen’s Hall had become аcasualty of the air-raids(in 1941), and was gutted.   


Halloween means «holy evening» and takes place on October 31st.Although it is аmuch more important festival in the USA than in Britain, it iscelebrated by many people in the United Kingdom. It is particularly connectedwith witches and ghosts.

At parties people dress up in strange costumes and pretend they arewitches. They cut horrible faces in potatoes and other vegetables and put аcandle inside, which shines through their eyes. People play different gamessuch as trying to eat an apple from аbucket of water withoutusing their hands.

In recent years children dressed in white sheets knock on doors atHalloween and ask if you would like а“trick” or “treat”. If yougive them something nice, а“treat”, they go away. However, if you don’t,they play а“trick” on you, such as making аlot of noise or spillingflour on your front doorstep.


Guy Fawkes Night is one of the most popular festivals in Great Britain.It commemorates the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot, and is widelycelebrated throughout the country. Below, the reader will find the necessaryinformation concerning the Plot, which, as he will see, may never have existed,and the description of the traditional celebrations.

Gunpowder Plot. Conspiracy to destroy theEnglish Houses of Parliament and King James I when the latter opened Parliamenton Nov. 5, 1605. Engineered by а group of Roman Catholics as а protest againstanti-Papist measures. In May 1604 the conspirators rented а house adjoining theHouse of Lords, from which they dug а tunnel to а vault below that house, wherethey stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. It was planned that when king andparliament were destroyed the Roman Catholics should attempt to seize power.Preparations for the plot had been completed when, on October 26, one of theconspirators wrote to а kinsman, Lord Monteagle, warning

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himto stay away from the House of Lords. On November 4 а search was made of theparliament vaults, and the gunpowder was found, together with Guy Fawkes (1570— 1606), an English Roman Catholic in the pay of Spain (which was makingpolitical capital out of Roman Catholics discontent in England). Fawkes hadbeen commissioned to set off the explosion. Arrested and tortured he revealedthe names of the conspirators, some of whom were killed resisting arrest. Fawkeswas hanged. Detection of the plot led to increased repression of English RomanCatholics. The Plot is still commemorated by an official ceremonial search ofthe vaults before the annual opening of Parliament, also by the burning ofFawkes'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 theUS. Many people go to church in the morning and at home they have a big dinnerwith turkey. People gather to give the God thanks for all the good things intheir lives.

    Thanksgiving is the harvest festival. Thecelebration was held in 1621 after the first harvest in New England. In the endof 1620 the passengers from the Mayflower landed in America and startedsettling there. Only half of the people survived the terrible winter. In springthe Indians gave the settlers some seeds of Indian corn and the first harvestwas very good.       Later, ThanksgivingDays following harvest were celebrated in all the colonies of New England, butnot on the same day. In October 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed anational Thanksgiving. In 191, the US Congress Named fourth Thursday ofNovember a Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day is a “day of General Thanksgivingto Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”.Regular annual observance began in 1879. Since 1957 Thanksgiving Day has beenobserved on the second Monday in October.

St. Andrew’s Day

         Insome areas, such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Northamptonshire, St Andrew was regarded as thepatron 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-centuryNorthampton shire, claims that St Andrew’s Day Old Style (11 December) was amajor festival day “in many out of the way villages” of the country: “… the dayis one of unbridled license- a kind of carnival; village scholars bar out themaster, the lace schools are deserted, and drinking and feasting prevail to ariotous extent. Towards evening the villagers walk about and masquerade, thewomen wearing men’s dress and the men wearing female

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attire, visiting one another’s cottages anddrinking hot Elderberry wine, the chief beverage of the season …”. In LeightonBuzzard, Bedfordshire, a future of the day was the making and eating of TandryWigs. A strange belief reported Wright and Lones dedicate that wherever liliesof the valley grow wild the parish church is usually to St Andrew.


Christmas Day is observed on the 25th of December. In Britainthis day was а festival long before the conversion to Christianity. The Englishhistorian the Venerable Bede relates that “the ancient peoples of Angli beganthe year on the 25th of December, and the very night was called intheir tongue modranecht, that is ‘mother’s night’. Thus it is notsurprising that many social customs connected with the celebration of Christmasgo back to pagan times, as, for instance, the giving of presents. Indeed, in1644 the English puritans forbade the keeping of  Christmas by Act ofParliament, on the grounds that it was а heathen festival. At the RestorationCharles II revived the feast.

Though religion in Britain has been steadily losing ground and Christmashas practically no religious significance for the majority of the population ofmodern Britain, it is still the most widely celebrated festival in all itsparts except Scotland. The reason for this is clear. With its numerous, oftenrather quaint social customs, it is undoubtedly the most colourful holiday ofthe year, and, moreover one that has always been, even in the days when mostpeople were practising Christian, а time for eating, drinking and making merry.

However, despite the popularity of Christmas, quite а number of Englishpeople dislike this festival, and even those who seem to celebrate itwholeheartedly, have certain reservations about it. The main reason for this isthat Christmas has become the most commercialized festival of the year. Thecustoms and traditions connected with Christmas, for example giving presentsand having а real spree once а year, made it an easy prey to the retailers,who, using modern methods of advertising, force the customer to buy what heneither wants nor, often, can reasonably afford.

It is not only children and members of the family that exchange presentsnowadays. Advertising has widened this circle to include not only friends anddistant relations, but also people you work with. An average English familysends dozens and dozens of Christmas cards, and gives and receive almost asmany often practically useless presents. For people who are well off thisentails no hardship, but it is no small burden for families with small budgets.Thus saving up for Christmas often starts months before the festival, andChristmas clubs have become а national institution among the working class andlower-middle class. These are generally run by shopkeepers and publicans over аperiod of about eight weeks or longer. Into these the housewives pay each weekа certain amount of money for their Christmas bird

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and joint, their Christmas groceries and so on, the husband as а rulepaying into the club run by the local pub, for the drinks.

As much of this spending is forced upon people and often means that аfamily has to do without things they really need, it inevitably leads toresentment 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 theythemselves had boosted beyond any reasonable proportion.

The Christmas Pantomime

Аpantomime is аtraditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is meant forchildren, but adults enjoy just as much. It is аvery old form ofentertainment, and can be traced back to 16th century Italiancomedies. Harlequin is аcharacter from these old comedies.

There have been аlot of changes over the years. Singing and dancing and all kinds of jokes have been added; but thestories which are told are still fairy tales, with аhero, аheroine, and аvillian. Becausethey are fairy tales we do not have to ask who will win in the end! The heroalways wins the beautiful princess, the fairy queen it triumphant and the demonking 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 isalways played by аgirl. The principal girl is the heroine, who always marries theprincipal boy in the end. The dame is аcomic figure, usually themother of the principal boy or girl, and is always played by аman.

 In addition, you can be surethere will always be а“good fairy” and а“bad fairy” — perhaps an ogre or аdemon king.

Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone has аnewidea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date. There are pantomimes onice, with all the actors skating; pantomimes with аwell-known pop singer as the principal boy or girl; or pantomimes with аfamous comedian from the English theatre as the dame. But the old storiesremain, side by side with the new ideas.


This is the day when one visits friends, goes for аlong walk or just sits around recovering from too much food — everythingto 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 аvisit to the pantomime, where once again one is entertained by the story ofCinderella, Puss in Boots or whoever it may be — the story being protracted

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and elaborated into as many spectacular scenes as the producer thinksone can take at аsitting.


One of the most important functions of the City’s eighty-four LiveryCompanies is the election of London's Lord Mayor at the Guildhall at 12 noon onMichaelmas Day (September 29th). The public are admitted to the ceremony.It provides one of the many impressive andcolourfulspectacles for which London is famed. Thereigning LordМауоrand Sheriffs,carrying posies, walk in procession to the Guildhall and take their places onthe dais, which is strewn with sweet-smelling herbs. The Recorder announcesthat the representatives of the Livery Companies have been called together toselect two Aldermen for the office of LordМауоrof London. From the selected two, the Court ofAldermen will choose one. TheМауоr, Aldermen and other senior officials then withdraw, and the Liveryselect their two nominations. Usually the choice is unanimous, and theLiverymen all hold up their hands and shout “All!”. The Sergeant-at-Arms takesthe mace from the table and, accompanied by the Sheriffs, takes the twonames to the Court of Aldermen, who then proceed to select the Mayor Elect. Thebells of the City ring out as theМауоrand the Mayor Elect leave the Guildhall the state coach for the MansionHouse.

II. Customs, Weddings, Births and Christenings.


In Britain the custom of becoming engaged is still generally retained,though many young people dispense with it, and the number of such couples isincreasing. As а rule, an engagement is announced as soon as а girl hasaccepted а proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is done а good timeafterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the girl’s parents should be thefirst to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often the couple’s friendswho are taken into confidence before either of the parents. If а man has notyet met his future in-laws he does so at the first opportunity, whereas hisparents usually write them а friendly letter. It is then up to the girl’smother to invite her daughter’s future in-laws, to а meal or drinks. Quiteoften, of course, the man has been а frequent visitor at the girl’s house longbefore the engagement, and their families are already well acquainted.

When а girl accepts а proposal, the man generally gives her а ring intoken of the betrothal. It is worn on the third finger of the left hand beforemarriage and together with the wedding ring after it. Engagement rings rangefrom expensive

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diamond rings to rings with Victorian semi-precious stones costing onlyа few pounds.

In most cases the engagement itself amounts only to announcements beingmade to the parents on both sides and to friends and relations, but some peoplearrange an  engagement party, and among the better-off people it is customary to putan announcement in the newspaper.

In the book Etiquette the author writes that “as soon ascongratulations and the first gaieties of announcement are over, а man shouldhave а talk with the girl’s father about the date of their wedding, where theywill live, how well off he is and his future plans and prospects”. Nowadaysthis is often not done, one of the reasons being that today the young peopleenjoy а greater degree of financial independence that they used to, to be ableto decide these matters for themselves. However, in working class families,where the family ties are still strong and each member of the family is moreeconomically dependent upon the rest, things are rather different. Quiteoften, particularly in the larger towns, the couple will have no option but tolive after marriage with either the girl’s or the man’s people. Housingshortage in Britain is still acute, and the rents are very high. It is extremelydifficult to get unfurnished accommodation, whereas а furnished room, which iseasier to get, costs а great deal for rent. In any case, the young couple mayprefer to live with the parents in order to have а chance to save up for thingsfor their future home.

Butif the young people, particularly those of the higher-paid section of thepopulation, often make their own decisions concerning the wedding and theirfuture, the parents, particularly the girl’s, still play an important part inthe ensuing activities, as we shall see later.

The period of engagement is usually short, three or four months, but this is entirely а matter of choice and circumstances.

The Ceremony

The parents and close relatives of the bride and groom arrive а fewminutes before the bride. The bridegroom and his best man should be in theirplaces at least ten minutes before the service starts. The bridesmaids andpages wait in the church porch with whoever is to arrange the bride’s veilbefore she goes up the aisle.

The bride, by tradition, arrives а couple of minutes late but thisshould not be exaggerated. She arrives with whoever is giving her away. Theverger signals to the organist to start playing, and the bride moves up theaisle with her veil over her face (although many brides do not follow thiscustom). She goes in on her father’s right arm, and the bridesmaids follow heraccording to the plan at the rehearsal the day before. The bridesmaids andushers go to their places in the front pews during theceremony, except for the chief bridesmaid who usually stands behind the brideand holds her bouquet.

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After the ceremony the couple go into the vestry to sign the registerwith their parents, best man, bridesmaids and perhaps а close relation such asа grandmother. The bride throws back her veil or removes the front piece (if itis removable), the verger gives а signal to the organist and the bride andgroom walk down the aisle followed by their parents and those who have signedthe register. The bride’s mother walks down the aisle on the left arm of the bridegroom’sfather and the bridegroom’s mother walks down on the left arm of the bride’sfather (or whoever has given the bride away). Guests wait until the weddingprocession has passed

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