TRADITIONS AND HOLIDAYS OF GREAT BRITAIN
Every nation and every country has its own traditions and customs. Traditions make a nation special. Some of them are very old and many people remember them, others are part of people’s life. Some British customs and traditions are known all over the world.
From Scotland to Cornwall, Britain is full of customs and traditions. A lot of them have a very long history. Some of them are funny and some are strange. But they all arre interesting. They all are part of the British way of life.
English traditions can be classified into several groups: traditions concerning the Englishmen’s private life (child’s birth, wedding, marriage, wedding anniversary); which are connected with families incomes; state traditions; national holidays, religious holidays, public festivals, traditional ceremonies.
Christmas is the most popular holiday in Britain. Christmas has been celebrated from the earliest days of recorded history, and each era and ethnic group has pasted a colourful sheet of new customs annd traditions.
On Sunday before Christmas many churches hold a carol service where special hymns are sung. Sometimes carol singers can be heard in the streets as they collect money for charity. There are many very popular British Christmas carols. Th
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world send and receive Christmas cards. Most of people think that exchanging cards at Christmas is a very ancient custom but it is not right. In fact it is barely 100 years old. The idea of exchanging illustrated greeting and presents is, however, ancient. The first commercial Christmas card was produced in Britain in 1843 by Henry Cole, who was the founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The hand coloured print was inscribed with the words “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to you”. It was horizontally rectangular in shape, printed on sttout cardboard by lithography.
December 26th is Boxing Day. It is called like that because traditionally boys from the shops in each town went to ask for money at Christmas. They went from house to house on December 26th and take boxes made of wood with them. At each house people gave them money. This was a Christmas present. So the name of December 26th does not come from the sport of boxing – it comes from the boys’ wooden boxes. Now Bo
Traditionally Boxing Day Hunts is a day for foxhunting. The huntsmen and huntswomen ride horses. They use dogs, too. The dogs (fox hounds) follow the smell of a fox. Then the huntsmen and huntswomen follow the hounds. Before a Boxing Day hunt, the huntsmen and huntswomen drink hot wine. But the tradition of the December 26th hunt is changing. Now, some people want to stop Boxing Day Hunts (and other hunts, too). They do not like foxhunting. For them it is not a sport – it is cruelty.
On October 31st British people celebrate Halloween. It is undoubtedly the most colourful and exciting holiday of the year. Though it is not a public holiday, it is very dear to those who celebrate it, especially to children and teenagers. This day was originally called All Hallow’s Eve because it fell on the eve of All Saints’ Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. According to old beliefs, Halloween is the time, when the veil between the living and the dead is partially lifted, and witches, ghosts and other super natural beings are about. Now children celebrate Halloween wearing unusual costumes and masks. It is a
Few holidays tell us much of the past as Halloween. Its origins date back to a time, when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts. Many Halloween customs are based on beliefs of the ancient Celts, who lived more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France.
Halloween customs today follow many of the ancient traditions, though their significance has long since disappeared.
A favourite Halloween custom is to make a jack-j’-lantern. Children take out the middle of the pumpkin, cut holes for the eyes, nose and mouth on its side and, finally, they put a candle inside the pumpkin to scare their friends. The candle burning inside makes the orange face visible from far away on a dark night. A delicious pumpkin-pie is made of the pulp.
People in England and Ireland carved out beets, potatoes, and turnips to make jack-o’-lanterns on Halloween. When the Scots and Irish came to the United States, they brought their customs with them. But they began to carve faces on pumpkins because they were more plentiful in autumn than turnips. Nowadays, British carve faces on
On Bank holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to the coast. If the weather is fine, many families take a picnic – lunch or tea with them and enjoy their meal in the open air. Seaside towns near London, such as Southend, are invaded by thousands of trippers, who come in cars and coaches, trains and bicycles. Great amusement parks like Southend Kursoal do a roaring trade with their scenic railways, shooting galleries, water-shoots, Crazy houses and so on. Trippers wear comic paper hats with slogans, and they eat and drink the weirdest mixture of stuff you can imagine, sea food like cockles, mussels, whelks, fish and chips, candy floss, tea, fizzy drinks, everything you can imagine.
Bank holiday is also an occasion for big sports meeting at places like the White City Stadium, mainly all kinds of athletics. There are also horse race meetings all over the country, and most traditional of all, there are large fairs with swings, roundabouts, a Punch and Judy show, hoop-la stalls and every kind of side-show including, in recent, bingo. There is also much boating activity on the Thames.
Although the Christian religion gave the world Easter as we know it today, the celebration owes its name and many of its customs and symbols to a pagan festival called Eostre. Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of springtime and sunrise, got her name from the world east, where the sunrises. Every spring northern European people celebrated the festival of Eostre to honour the awakening of new life in nature. Christians related the rising of the sun to the resurrection of Jesus and their own spiritual rebirth.
Many modern Easter symbols come from the pagan time. The egg, for instance, was a fertility symbol long before the Christian era. The ancient Persians, Greeks and Chinese exchanged eggs at their spring festivals. In Christian times the egg took on a new meaning symbolizing the tomb from which Christ rose. The ancient custom of dyeing eggs at Easter time is still very popular.
The Easter bunny also originated in pre-Christian fertility lore. The rabbit was the most fertile animal our ances tors knew, so they selected it as a symbol of new life. Today, children enjoy eating candy bunnies and listening to stories about the Easter bunny, who supposedly brings Easter eggs in a fancy basket.
Also there is a spectacular parade on Easter. It is a truly spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park. It is sponsored by the London Tourist Board and is usually planned around a central theme related to the history and attractions of London. The great procession, or parade, begins at 3 p.m. but it is advisable to find a vantage-point well before that hour.
So I think of Britain as a place of a lot of different types of people who observe their traditions.
MY IMPRESSIONS OF EDINBURGH
Last summer I visited Edinburgh. I was impressed by the beauty of the city, the incredible history of Edinburgh castle and the expositions of the museums, which are known all over the world.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. This distinction is partly an accident of Nature, for the city is built upon jumble of hills and valleys; however, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the natural geography was enhanced by the works of a succession of distinguished Georgian and Victorian architects.
The Royal Castle of Edinburgh is the most powerful symbol of Scotland. For centuries, this mighty fortress has dominated its surroundings with a majesty, which has deeply impressed many generations.
The volcanic castle rock in Edinburgh was born over 340 million years ago following a violent eruption deep in the earth’s crust. Its story as a place of human habitation stretches back a mere 3,000 years, to the late Bronze Age. It was evidently a thriving hill-top settlement when Roman soldiers marched by in the first century AD.
The place had become an important royal fortress by the time of Queen Margaret’s death there in November 1093. Throughout the Middle Ages Edinburgh Castle ranked as one of the major castles of the kingdom and its story is very much the story of Scotland. But within the building of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the early 16th century, the castle was used less and less as a royal residence, though it remained symbolically the heart of the kingdom.
Edinburgh Castle is the home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain. The Honours of Scotland – the Crown, Sword and Sceptre – were shaped in Italy and Scotland during the reigns of King James IV and king James V and were first used together as coronation regalia in 1543.
After the 1707 Treaty of Union between Scotland and England, the Honours were locked away in the Crown Room and the doors were walled up. 111 years later, the Honours were rediscovered and immediately displayed to the public. Displayed with the Crown Jewels is the Stone of Destiny, returned to Scotland after 700 years in England.
In the field of arts, Edinburgh has a host of outstanding attractions for different tastes and interests. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery provides a unique visual history of Scotland, told through portraits of the figures whoshaped it: royals and rebels, poets and philosophers, heroes and villains. All the portraits are of Scots, but not all are by Scots. The collection also holds works by great English, European and American masters. Since the Gallery first opened its doors, the collection has grown steadily to form a kaleidoscope of Scottish life and history. Among the most famous portraits are Mary, Queen of Scots, Ramsay’s portrait of philosopher David Hume, Nasmyth’s portrait of Robert Burns, and Raeburn’s Sir Walter Scott. In addition to paintings, it displays sculptures, miniatures, coins, medallions, drawings, watercolours and photographs.
The Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland are two museums under one roof. The Royal Museum is Scotland’s premier museum and international house of treasure. It contains material from all over the world. A vast range of objects are on display – from the endangered Giant Panda to working scale models of British steam engines. The Museum of Scotland tells the remarkable story of a remarkable country from the geological dawn of time to modern-day life in Scotland. The variety and richness of Scotland’s long and vibrant history, is brought to life by the fascinating stories each object and every gallery has to tell.
At the heart of the museum is the Kingdom of the Scots. This is the story of Scotland’s emergence as a distinctive nation able to take its place on the European stage. Here are the icons of Scotland’s past – objects connected with some of the most famous events and best-known figures in Scottish history, from the Declaration of Arbroath to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Described as “the noisiest museum in the world”, the Museum of Childhood is a favourite with adults and children alike. It is a treasure house, full of objects telling of childhood, past and present. The museum has five public galleries. A list of their contents makes it sound like a magical department store. There are riding toys, push and pull toys, doll’s prams, yachts and boats, slot machines, a punch, a nickelodeon, a carousel horse, dolls’ houses, toy animals, zoos, farms and circuses, trains, soldiers, optical toys, marionettes, soft toys, games and much, much more.
In addition, the museum features a time tunnel (with reconstructions of a school room, street scene, fancy dress party and nursery from the days of our grandparents) an activity area, and video presentations. The museum opened in 1955 was the first museum in the world to specialize in the history of childhood. It also helps to find out how children have been brought up, dressed and educated in decades gone by.
My trip to Edinburgh was unforgettable. I hope I will come back here some day