The most famous holidays of a Great Britain
Learning English tradition of celebrating New Year, Christmas , Easter , Thanksgiving , Valentine's Day , Halloween , St. Andrew "s Day, Mother's Day and Memorial Day. The analysis of the characteristic differences holiday customs in the Great Britain.
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famous holiday great britain
In Great Britain 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 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, 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 toasts and Auld Lang Syne (a song by Robert Burns) is sung. 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 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 programmes and usually show Scottish ones.
January 1st, New Year's Day, is now a public holiday, fortunately 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.
Christmas is Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. For millions of Christians throughout the world it is the happiest and the busiest time of the year. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25. The word Christmas comes from Christes masse, an early English phrase that means Mass of Christ.
People of different countries celebrate Christmas in various ways. People in the Great Britain, United States and Canada decorate their homes with Christmas trees, wreaths and ornaments. City streets are filled with coloured lights; the sound of bells and Christmas carols can be heard everywhere.
Children write letters to Santa Claus and tell him what presents they would like to get. Many department stores hire people to wear a Santa Claus costume and listen to children's requests. People send Christmas cards to relatives and friends. Many companies give presents to their employees.
A Christmas tree is one of the main symbols of Christmas in most homes. Relatives and friends may join in trimming the tree with lights, tinsel, and colourful ornaments. Presents are placed under the tree. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, families open their presents.
Many children believe that Santa Claus arrives on Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by a reindeer and brings presents. Some children hang up stockings so Santa Claus can fill them with candy, fruit and other small gifts.
In many parts of the Great Britain ,United States and Canada groups of people walk from house to house and sing Christmas carols. Some people give singers money or small gifts or invite them for a warm drink.
Many people attend church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. They listen to readings from Bible and singing Christmas carols.
A traditional Christmas dinner consists of stuffed turkey, ь mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and a variety of other dishes. Some families have ham or roast goose instead of turkey. Pumpkin pie, plum pudding, and fruitcake are favourite desserts.
For Christians Easter Sunday is the high point of the year. They celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As in many other European and New World countries, eggs and rabbits (signs of fertility and new life) are traditional symbols of Easter in the British Isles. Chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs, often adorned in colorful foil wrappers, are given to children as presents or are hidden for the Easter morning "egg hunt."
The tradition of decorating real eggs for Easter dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1290 the English king, Edward I, ordered 450 eggs to be covered in gold leaf to be given as Easter presents. It is thought that the bright hues used to decorate Easter eggs were meant to mirror the colors of the reawakening spring growth.
Another British Easter custom is egg rolling or the egg race, when competitors try to be the first to roll their egg across a course or down a hill… without breaking it!
Aside from eggs, the best-known English Easter food is probably the hot cross bun. Dating back to medieval times, the buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but they are now popular all around the Easter season. These sweet treats, fragrant with fruit and spices, are marked with a cross, either slashed into the dough before baking, or drizzled on in icing afterwards. The history of hot cross buns dates far back to the pre-Christian era. It is thought that they are descendants of the small cakes offered to Eostre, the goddess of spring. They may have been marked with a cross even in ancient times, to represent the four quarters of the moon. In later centuries the church, unable to stamp out ancient pagan traditions, decided instead to "Christianize" the buns by associating the cross with that of Jesus.
Easter Sunday in the British Isles is traditionally marked by church services, often held at dawn so that worshippers can view the sunrise, a symbol of Christ's resurrection. Afterwards Easter eggs are exchanged and eaten.
Easter parades were also once an important tradition, during which people would wear their new clothes - the ladies in particular would show off their new "Easter bonnets" - as another sign of spring's renewal. Later the family would gather for Easter lunch or dinner, which in England traditionally consisted of roast spring lamb with mint sauce, potatoes and green peas. There was time to rest from the celebrations the next day, since Easter Monday is traditionally a holiday in Britain.
Eight other holidays are uniquely American. For most Americans, two of these stand out above the others as occasions to cherish national origins: Thanksgiving Day and the 4th of July. Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November, but many Americans take a day of vacation on the following Friday to make a four day weekend, during which they may travel long distances to visit family and friends.
The holiday dates back to 1621, the year after the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts, determined to practise their dissenting religion without interference. After a rough winter, in which about half of them died, they turned for help to neighboring Indians, who taught them how to plant corn and other crops. The next fall's bountiful harvest inspired the Pilgrims to give thanks by holding a feast.
The Thanksgiving feast became a national tradition -- not only because so many other Americans have found prosperity but also because the Pilgrims' sacrifices for their freedom still captivate the imagination. To this day, Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion.
Saint Valentine's day
St. Valentine's Day has its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, observed on February 15. Lupercalia celebrated the coming of spring in the Roman calendar (February was observed later in the year than it is today). Lupercalia was associated with the Roman gods Lupercus and Faunus. Lupercus watched over shepherds and their flocks and the festival of Lupercalia became a celebration intended to ensure the fertility of flocks, fields and people.
The celebration of Lupercalia spread as the Roman Empire grew. When the Romans conquered France, the first Valentine-like cards were used, in which women had written their names (possibly accompanied by love notes) that later could be used in a lottery to search someone favours.
From its association with Lupercalia, St. Valentine's Day associates with love and romance. This led Valentine's enthusiasts to appoint the Roman god Cupid as a patron of Valentine's Day. Cupid is also known as Amour or Eros in Greek mythology. The ancient Greeks believed Eros was the force of «love» that is why Eros seems to have been responsible for impregnating a number of goddesses and mortals.
There are several legends about St. Valentine's Day. Each legend stems from real-life martyr known as Valentines who lived in the time of Roman Empire. It is unsure who St. Valentine was, but there are several possible candidates. One of these Valentines is believed to have been a Roman priest and physician. He was put into prison by roman authorities for his teachings and was beheaded on February 14 in the third century A. D. According to the legend he performed a miracle -he cured the blindness of his jailer's daughter. Before the execution, he wrote her a letter signed «From Your Valentine> Another legend says that the same Valentine wrote to children and friends who loved him from the jail. After his death this Valentine was buried in the Roman road Via Flaminia. Pope Julius I is said to have later built a basilica above his grave. One more Saint Valentine candidate, believed to be a bishop of Teni (a province in central Italy), was executed in Rome.
According to another legend, Valentine was an Italian bishop who lived at about the same time. He was thrown into prison because he secretly married couples, contrary to the laws of the Roman Empire. The legend says that he was burnt at the stake.
February 14 was also a Roman holiday. On this day, young men randomly chose the name of the girl to escort to the festival. The custom of choosing a sweetheart on this day became very popular in the medieval Europe. Later this custom spread to American colonies.
St. Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day that you show your friend or loved one that you care. You can send candy to someone you think is special. Or you can send roses, the flower of love. Most people send «valentines, a greeting card named after the notes that St. Valentine wrote from jail. Valentines can be sentimental, romantic and heartfelt. They can be funny and friendly. If the sender is shy, valentines can be anonymous.
Americans of all ages love to send and receive valentines. Handmade valentines are created by cutting hearts out of coloured paper. Valentines can be heart-shaped, or have hearts, the symbol of love, on them. In elementary schools, children make valentines for their classmates and put them in a large decorated box, similar to a mailbox. On February 14, the teachers open the box and distribute the valentines to each student. After the students read their valentines, they have a small party with refreshments.
You can write a short rhyme inside the heart:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!
Or you can buy valentines with messages in them. If you are shy, you can sign it, «Your Secret Admirer».
On October 31st, the eve of All Saints Day or just Halloween is celebrated.
The tradition of Halloween began in the fifth century B.C. by the Irish Celts, who organized their year according to the agricultural calendar and marked the transition from one year to the next on October 31.
The Celts, ancient inhabitants of Great Britain, celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival that marked the end of the «season of the sun» and the beginning of «the season of darkness and cold.
On the eve before their new year, October 31, it was believed that Samhain, who was the Lord of the Death and Prince of Darkness, called together all the dead people. The Celts believed the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on this night.
On October 31st, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest. They considered oak trees to be sacred. The Druids would light fires and offer sacrifices of crops, animals and possibly even human beings. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that had been sacrificed.
When the morning arrived, the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires at home. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.
The story tells us that during the transition, spirits return to earth, looking for living bodies to possess for the following year. The Celts dress up in ghoulish costumes and parade around to frighten them away.
In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church made November 1st a church holiday to honour all the saints. This day is called All Saint's Day. It used to be also known as Hallowmas. Gradually, over the years, October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow's Eve, and then Halloween as we know it today.
It was thought that even strangers could help a soul's passage to heaven by saying prayers.
The most known custom is the tradition of dressing.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, people placed bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter their home.
Fire has always played an important part in Halloween. Fire was very important to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old days people lit bonfires to ward away evil spirits and in some places they used to j ump over the fire to bring good luck. Today, we light candles in pumpkin and then put them outside our homes to ward of evil spirits.
Another tradition is Apple Bobbing. It has the roman origins. The Roman festival for remembering the dead was also in October. During this time, the Romans remembered their goddess, Pomona. She was the goddess of the trees and fruits, and when the Romans came to Britain, they began to hold these two festivals on the same day as Samhain. Apples probably became associated with Halloween because of this festival. Some people believe that, if you slice an apple through the equator (to reveal the five-pointed star within) and then eat it by candlelight before a-mirror, your future spouse will appear over your shoulder.
Trick or Treat was first known as Mischief Night. Halloween was a time for making mischief -- many parts of England still recognize this date as Mischief Night -- when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches or ghosts, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders.
Halloween was sometimes called Nut Crack Night or Snap Apple Night in England. Families would sit by the fire and tell stories while they ate apples and nuts.
St. Andrew"s Day
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles (disciples of Jesus) and brother of Simon Peter (Saint Peter). He was a fisherman by trade, who lived in Galilee (in present-day Israel.) . He was the second person to be baptised by John the Baptist after Jesus. Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Romania and Russia.
St Andrew's day is celebrated on the 30th November. St. Andrew 's Day is also connected with Advent, which begins on the nearest Sunday to 30 November.
The Scottish flag is the cross of St. Andrew, also known as the Saltire. It is said to be one of the oldest national flags of any country, dating back at least to the 12th century. St. Andrew is believed to have died on a diagonally transversed cross, similar to a crucifix, which the Romans sometimes used for executions and which, therefore, came to be called St. Andrew's cross. The blue stands for the sky.
St. Andrew 's Day marks the opening of Christmas Markets. Many Midwinter customs and folk superstitions are also connected to St. Andrew 's day. Around midnight on Nov 29th, the day before St Andrew's Day, it was traditional for girls to pray to St. Andrew for a husband. They would make a wish and look for a sign that they had been heard. A girl wishing to marry could:
Throw a shoe at a door. If the toe of the shoe pointed in the direction of the exit, then she would marry and leave her parents' house within a year.
Peel a whole apple without breaking the peel and throw the peel over the shoulder. If the peel formed a letter of the alphabet, then this suggested the name of her future groom.
Mother's Day in the United States is an annual holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Mother's Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well the positive contributions that they make to society. Although many Mother's Day celebrations world-wide have quite different origins and traditions, most have now been influenced by the more recent American tradition established by Anna Jarvis, who celebrated it for the first time in 1908, then campaigned to make it an official holiday. Previous attempts at establishing Mother's Day in the United States sought to promote peace by means of honoring mothers who had lost or were at risk of losing their sons to war.
Traditions on this day include churchgoing, the distribution of carnations, and family dinners. The holiday has been heavily commercialized by advertisers and retailers.
The first attempts to establish a "Mother's Day" in the United States came from women's peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.
In 1868, Ann Jarvis - mother of Anna Jarvis - created a committee to establish a "Mother's Friendship Day", the purpose of which was "to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War." Jarvis - who had previously organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak - wanted to expand this into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular. Her daughter would continue her mother's efforts.
There were several limited observances in the 1870s and the 1880s but none achieved resonance beyond the local level. At the time, Protestant schools in the United States already held many celebrations and observations such as Children's Day, Temperance Sunday, Roll Call Day, Decision Day, Missionary Day and others. In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a "Mother's Day for Peace" anti-war observance on June 2, 1872, which was accompanied by a Mother's Day Proclamation. The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe's personal sponsorship, then died out.
Several years later a Mother's Day observance on May 13, 1877 was held in Albion, Michigan over a dispute related to the temperance movement. According to local legend, Albion pioneer Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperance advocates to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. From the pulpit Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley's two sons, both traveling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers.
Frank E. Hering, President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made a plea for "a national day to honor our mothers" in 1904.
Anna Jarvis never mentioned Howe or Mothering Sunday, and she never mentioned any connection to the Protestant school celebrations, always claiming that the creation of Mother's Day was hers alone.
Remembrance Day - also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates) or Veterans Day - is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918--major hostilities were formally ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. The holiday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials, involving the laying of wreaths of poppies on the memorials and two-minutes' silence at 11A.M.
After World War II the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the commemoration extended to include veterans of that and later wars. "Poppy Day" is also a popular term used, particularly in Malta and South Africa, due to the connection of poppies with the day, an association that derives from the poem In Flanders Fields that described poppies growing among the crosses marking the graves of those who died in World War I. On Remembrance Day, public readings of this poem stress our debt to those who lost their lives as well as the importance of honoring their memory in ceremonies that focus on the sacrifice and sorrow of war.
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