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In England the New Year is not as widely or as enthusiastically observed as Christmas. Some people ignore it completely and go to bed at the same time as usual on New Year's Eve. Many others, however, do celebrate it in one way or another, the type of celebration varying very much according to the local custom, family tradition and personal taste.
Wherever Easter is celebrated, there Easter eggs are usually to be found. In their modern form, they are frequently artificial, mere imitations of the real thing, made of chocolate or marzipan or sugar, or of two pieces of coloured and decorated cardboard fitted together to make an egg-shaped case containing some small gift. These are the Easter eggs of commerce, which now appear in shop-windows almost as soon as, and sometimes even before, Ash Wednesday is past, and by so doing lose much of their original festival significance.
May is the month for traditional dancing around the maypole. Many English villages still have a maypole, and on May 1st, the villagers dance around it. The original maypoles were freshly felled trees, stripped of their branches, brought into the community and adorned with garlands and ribbons. The Maypole was originally a pagan fertility symbol.
In Great Britain there is a holiday now which people call Mother's Day. In the old days many girls from workers' families in towns and from farmers' families in the country worked in rich people's houses. They had to do all the housework. Their working day was usually very long and they often worked on Sundays, too.
Сheese-rolling on Cooper's Hill, in the Gloucestershire parish of Brock worth, is an old Whit Monday custom, which has now, like so many others, been transferred to the newly established Spring Bank Holiday. In the evening of that day, the youth of the neighbourhood run races down the precipitous hillside for the prize of a cheese.
Halloween is both a British and an American holiday. In Britain, it is celebrated in Scotland and Wales. In the United States it is celebrated in many towns and villages. It is a holiday for children and young people. In the evening of October 31 boys and girls 'dress up' in different old clothes and wear masks. As the night is usually dark they take with them a lantern made from a pumpkin. On an empty pumpkin they cut out slits for two eyes, a nose and a mouth and put a lighted candle inside. The pumpkin then looks like a jeering face with burning eyes. - The children go from house to house and knock on the doors calling 'trick or treat'. This means that they will, play no tricks on you if you 'treat' them - ask them in and give them sweets and fill their bags with fruit and cakes or anything else they like.
Christmas Day is the most popular of bank holidays. Christmas season is the most festive time of the year in Britain and the United States. Students and schools and colleges usually have a 2 weeks vacation, beginning before Christmas and ending soon after New Year. There are a lot of parties to celebrate the birth of Christ and the arrival of the New Year. Although no one knows exactly when Jesus was born, Christians everywhere in the world celebrate his birthday on December 25. This day was a festival long before Christianity because ancient people believed this was the time when the sun god started his journey back to earth and it was a custom to give presents to each other. Now children are told that Santa Claus or Father Christmas in a red hat and a long white beard puts presents for them into their stockings by the fireplace.
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