Holidays and Festivals of Great Britain.
There are eight holidays a year in Great Britain. On these days people don’t go to work. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter, May Day, Spring Bank Day Holiday, Late Summer Bank Holiday.
Most of these holidays are of religious origin. But nowadays they have lost their religious significance and simply days on which people relax, visit their friends. All the public holidays ( except New Year’s Day, Christmas and Boxing Day) are movable. They don’t fall on the same date each year.
Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries, on which certain traditions are observed. But if they don’t fall on Sunday, they’re ordinary working days.
Christmas or ( Xmas).
The most popular holiday is Xmas. Every year the people of Norway give the city of London the present. It is a big Xmas tree and it stands in Trafalgar square. Central streets are beautifully decorated. Before Xmas groups of singers go from house to house. They collect money for charity and sing carols traditional Xmas songs. Many churches hold a carol serves on the Sunday before Xmas. This is the day when people decorate their trees. Children hang stocking at the end of their beds, hoping that Santa Claus will come at night and full them with toys and sweets. Xmas is a family holiday. Relatives prepare for the big Xmas dinner of turkey and Xmas pudding and every one gives and gets presents
The 26-th of December, Boxing Day are an extra holiday after Xmas. This is the time to meet friends or sit at home and watch TV. New Years day is less popular in Britain the Christmas.
Public holidays in Great Britain are called bank holidays because the banks as wеll as most of the offices and shops are closed. According to the Act of Parliament of 1871 there are 4 bank holidays. Easter Monday, white Monday, December 26-th- Boxing Day. Other public holidays are Good Friday, May Day. The Patron saints days are not celebrated with a holiday. They are St. David’s Day (March 1-st) in Wales, St. George’s Day ( April 23-rd) in England and St. Andrew’s Day ( November 30-th) in Scotland. Only Ireland, both North and South, has a holiday on St. Patrick’s Day ( March17th).
In England New Year is not as widely observed as Christmas. Some people just ignore it, but others celebrate it in one way or another. 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 is usually begins at about 8 o’clock p.m. and goes until the early hours of the morning. There is usually a buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, cakes, a big bowl of punch.
At midnight people listen to the chiming of Big Ben and sing “Auld Land Syne” ( a song by Robert Burns “The days of long ago”) Another way of celebrating 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 most famous celebration is round the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus. People sing, dance and welcome the New Year. Someone usually falls into the fountain. January 1-st is a public holiday. People don’t work. They send cards and give presents.
Ghosts and Witch
Hallowe'en means ‘ holy evening’ and takes place on 31-st October. Although it is a much more important festival in the United States than Britain, it is celebrated by many people in the UK. 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 candle inside, which shines through the eyes. People may play difficult games such as trying to eat an apple from a bucket of water without using their hands.
In recent years children dressed in white sheets knock on doors at Hallowe’en and ask if you would like a ‘trick or a treat’. If you give them something nice, a ‘treat’, they go away. However, if you don’t, they play a trick’ on you, such as making a lot of noise or spilling flour on your front doorstep!
Reverence: trick or treat- проказа или угощение
Although the Christian religion gave the world Easter as we know it today, the celebrations 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 word east, where the sun rises. Every spring northern European peoples celebrated the festival of Eostre to honour the awakening of new life in nature. Christians related the rising of the sun to the resurrection of Jesus and their own spiritual rebirth.
Many modern aster symbols come from pagan times. 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 time 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 ancestors 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.
References: 1. Easter- Пасха
2. pagan- языческий
3 a fertility symbol- символ плодородия
4. bunny- ласк. кролик, тж. Rabbit
Guy Fawkes Night ( November, 5)
It commemorates the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot and is widely celebrated throughout the country.
Conspiracy was going to destroy the English Houses of Parliament on November, 5, 1605.
In May 1604 the conspirators rented a house adjoining the House of Lords from which they dug a tunnel to a vault below the house. There they stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. It was planned that when King and Parliament were destroyed the Roman Catholics should attempt and seize power. But on October,26, one of the conspirators wrote to Lord Monteagle and warned him to stay away from the House of Lords. On November ,4, a search was made and the gunpowder was found together with Guy Fawkes, an English Roman Catholic. Fawkes had been commissioned to set off the explosion. Fawkes was hanged.
According to another theory the plot never existed at all. The Government just wanted to blacken the Catholics and tighten the laws against them. The truth is so deeply buried that we are not likely to discover it.
On November,5, children are allowed to let off fireworks to make a bonfire and burn on it the figure of a “guy” made of old clothes, straw and a hat.
May Day Celebrations
The beautiful springtime festival of May Day is observed in every nation, each according to its own customs and traditions. In most countries on May 1-st a new life begins for both nature and man.
May Day is more important in Northern Europe than I warmer countries farther south. People grow tired of snow and ice and short winter days to which May Day signifies an end. The people of Belgium welcome spring with parades and fairs. Holland celebrates with tulip festivals and Switzerland people offer up special May Day prayers. In France people buy flowers at sidewalk stand. They wear them and give to their friends for luck.
As summer comes, Britain likes to celebrate the end of winter. Much of this celebrations is connected with dancing, which is performed to encourage life and growth and drive away harmful spirits. Children may be seen dancing round the Maypole on village greens, wearing their brightly-coloured scarves into a beautiful pattern. Morris men dance all day long on May 1-st waving their white handkerchiefs to drive away the evil spirits and welcome in the new ones.
Llangollen is indeed a fine place for a romantic scene. Surrounded by tree-covered hills it lies in a valley of the River Dee. Its charm is very mild. Many visitors come here to the International Eisteddfod held each year.
The annual National Eisteddfod is certainly the most picturesque and most moving ceremony in Wales. Here the love of song and poetry of the Welsh is organized to make a spectacle unique in the world. Presided over by white-robed druids with their attendant blue- robed bards, the Eisteddfod calls upon the people of Wales each year to send forth its singers and poets to participate in this colourful tournament. The most important event is the choosing of the winning poet, and so great is the nationwide interest in this ceremony that special newspaper editions are read by those, who, unable to go to the Eisteddfod, follow it with the interest that in England is shown to dog races and football matches.
And the Welsh sing at Eisteddfod for days. The National Eisteddfod tekes place at some place in South Wales |9even years) and North Wales ( uneven years).
1. LLangollen [ laengolen]- Лланголлин
Clans and Tartans
The Gaelic word ‘clan’ means ‘family’ or ‘descendants’ and the great clans of the 16-th and17-th centuries were indeed very similar to enormous families, ruled by powerful chiefs. Sometimes there were fierce battles between different clans but nowadays the McDonalds and the Mc Kenzies, the Campbells and the Lindsays all live in peace with each other. It is possible to find people with these surnames in many English- speaking countries, and they all feel they share the same background.
The wearing of tartans or colored checks was common in the Highlands before the defeat by the English in 1745. Originally, the tartan was worn as a single piece of cloth, drawn in at the waist and thrown over the shoulder. The kilt did not become popular until the beginning of the 18-th century. Each clan has its own tartan and, since the first international gathering of the clans in 1972, many people have become interested in traditional forms of Scottish dress. Tartans are now part of international fashion.
Many people in Scotland have the name McDonald or McKenzie. ‘Mac’ means ‘son of’ and people with this name usually feel they belong to the same family or clan. Campbell or Cameron are other common surnames. Common boys’ Morag, Fiona or Jean. The names Jimmy and Jock are so common that many English people call a man from Scotland ‘ a Jimmy’ or ‘a Jock’.
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