Customs and traditions of Great Britain
Every nation and every country has its own traditions and customs.
Traditions make a nation special. Some of them are old-fashioned and
many people remember them, others are part of people’s life. Some
British customs and traditions are known all over the world: bowler
hats, tea and talking about the wether.
Englishmen have many traditional holidays, such as Christmas, St.
Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and others.
Britain is full of customs and traditions. A lot of them have very long
histories. Some are funny and some are strange. But they are all
interesting. There is the long menu of traditional British food. There
are many royal occasions. There are songs, saying and superstitions.
They are all part of the British way of life.
We can classify English traditions 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
festival, traditional ceremonies.
Here are some of them.
It is certain that Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Perhaps
no other holiday has developed a set of customs and symbols. This is the
day when many people are travelling home to be with their famillies on
Christmas Day, 25th December. The Christmas story comes from bible. An
angel appeared to shepherds and told them that a Savior had been born to
Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. Three Wise Men from the East
followed a wondrous star which led them to the baby Jesus to whome they
paid homage and presented gifts of gold, frankicense and myrrh. To
people all over the world, Christmas is a season of giving and receiving
presents. In Scandinavian and other European countries, Father
Christmas, or Saint Nicholas, comes into house at night and leaves gifts
for the children. Saint Nicholas is represented as a fidly man with a
red cloak and long white beard. He visited house and left giftes,
dringing people happiness in the coldest months of the year. Another
character, the Norse God Odin, rode on a magical flying horse across the
ages to make the present day Santa Claus.
For most British families, this is the most important festival of the
year, it combines the Christian celebration or the birth of Christ with
the traditional festivities of winter. On the Sunday before Christmas
many churches hold a carol service where special hymns are sung.
Sometimes carol-singers can be heard on the streets as they collect
money for charity. Most families decorate their houses with
brightly-coloured paper or holly, and they usually have a Christmas tree
in the corner or the front foom, glittering with coloured lights and
decorations. The Christmas tree was popularized by Prince Albert,
husband of Queen Victoria, who introduced one to the Royal Household in
1840. Since 1947, the country of Norway has presented Britain annually
with a large Christmas tree which stands in Trafalgar Square in
commemoration of Anglo-Norwegian cooperation during the Second World
There are a lot of traditions connected with Christmas but perhaps the
most important one is the giving of present. Familly members wrap up
their gifts and leave them bottom of the Christmas tree to be found on
Christmas morning. Children leave sock or stocking at the end of their
beds on Christmas Eve, 24th of December, hoping that Father Christmas
will come down the chimney during the night and bring them small
presents, fruit and nuts. They are usually not disappointe! At some time
on Christmas Day the familly will sit down to a big turkey dinner
followed by Christmas pudding. Christmas dinner consists traditionally
of a roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roast potatoes.
Mince pies and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy, which might
contain coins or lucky charms for children, follow this. (The pudding is
usually prepared weeks beforehand and is customarily stirred by each
member of the family as a wish is made.) Later in the day, a Christmas
cake may be served - a rich baked fruitcake with marzipan, icing and
The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas
Day. Invented by a London baker in 1846, a cracker is a brightly colored
paper tube, twisted at both ends, which contains a party hat, riddle and
toy or other trinket. When it is pulled by two people it gives out a
crack as its contents are dispersed.
26th December is also a public holiday, Boxing Day, which takes its
name from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box - a gift of money or
food inside a box - to the deliverymen and trades people who called
regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of
tipping the milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service
at Christmas time. This is the time to visit friends and relatives or
At midnight on 31th December throughout Great Britain people celebrate
the coming of the New Year, by holding hands in a large circle and
singing the song:
Should auld acquaintance be forget,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forget?
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!..
New Year's Eve is a more important festival in Scotland than it is in
England, and it even has a special name. It is not clear where the word
'Hogmanay' comes from, but it is connected with the provision of food
and drink for all visitors to your home on 31th December. It was
believed that the first person to visit one's house on New Year's Day
could bring good or bad luck. Therefore, people tried to arrange for the
person or their own choice to be standing outside their houses ready to
be let in the moment midnight had come. Usually a dark-complexioned man
was chosen, and never a woman, for she would bring bad luck. The first
footer was required to carry three articles: a piece of coal to wish
r was required to carry three articles: a piece of coal to wish
warmth, a piece of bread to wish food, and a silver coin to wish wealth.
St. Valentine’s Day
St. Valentine's Day roots in several different legends that have found
their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbols of
the day is Cupid, the Roman god of Love, Who is represented by the image
of a young boy with bow and arrow. Three hundred years after the death
of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe
in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in
prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not
only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a
miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The
night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell
letter, signing it, "from Your Valentine". Another legend tells us that
this same Valentine, well-loved by all, wrote notes from his jail cell
to children and friends who missed him. Whatever the odd mixture of
origins, St. Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day
that you show your friend of loved one that you care. You can send candy
to someone you think is special. Or you can 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 as other people in different countries love to
send and receive valentines. Handmade valentines, created by cutting
hearts out of coloured paper, show that a lot of thought was put into
making them personal. Valentines can be heart-shaped, or have hearts,
the symbol of love, on them. In elementary schools, children make
valentines, they have a small party with refreshments. You can right a
short rhyme inside the heart:
There are gold ships
And silver ships,
But no ships
Valentine cards are usually decorated with symbols of love and
friendship. These symbols were devised many centuries ago. Lace
symbolises a net for catching one's heart. If you get a Valentine with a
piece of a lace you may understand that the person who sent it must be
crazy about you. A symbol should have several meanings, so some experts
maintain that lace stands for a bridal veil. A ribbon means that the
person is tired up, while hearts, which are the most common romantic
symbol, denote eternal love. Red roses are also often used as a love
emblem. Valentine's Day grows more and more popular in many countries of
the world. Some people have already begun to celebrate it in Russia.
They try to imitate European Valentine customs and want to known more
about their origin. St. Valentine's Day is the day when boys and girls.
Friends and neighbours, husbands and wives, sweethearts and lovers
exchange greeting of love and affection. It is the day to share one's
loving feelings with friends and family, but it is young men and girls
ving feelings with friends and family, but it is young men and girls
who usually wait it with impatience. This day has become traditional for
many couples to become engaged. That makes young people acknowledge St.
Valentine's as the great friend and patron of lovers.
Easter is a Christian spring festival that is usually celebrated in
March or April. The name for Easter comes from a pagan fertility
celebration. The word "Easter" is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon
goddess of spring. Spring is a natural time for new life and hope when
animals have their young and plants begin to grow. Christian Easter may
have purposely been celebrated in the place of a pagan festival. It is
therefore not surprising that relics of doing and beliefs not belonging
th the Christian religious should cling even to this greatest day in the
Church's year. An old-fashioned custom still alive is to get up early
and climb a hill to see the sun rising. There are numerous accounts of
the wonderful spectacle of the sun whirling round and round for joy at
our Saviour's Resurrection. So many people go outdoors on Easter morning
hoping to see the sun dance. There is also a custom of putting on
something new to go to church on Easter morning. People celebrate the
holiday according to their beliefs and their religious denominations.
Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Christ died and
Easter Sunday as the day that He was resurrected. Protestant settlers
brought the custom of a sunrise service, a religious gathering at dawn,
to the United States.
Today on Easter Sunday, children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny
has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that they
decorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around the
house. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the
child who first the most eggs wins a prize.
Americans celebrate the Easter bunny coming. They set out Easter
baskets for their children to anticipate the Easter bunnys arrival whi
leaves candy and other stuff. The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long
ago, he was called the "Easter Hare". Hares and rabbits have frequent
multiple births, so they became a symbol of fertility.
Christians fast during the forty days before Easter. They choose to eat
and drink only enough to feep themselves alive.
The day preceding Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day.
Shrove Tuesday recalls the day when people went to Church ti confess and
be shriven before Lent. But now the day is more generally connected with
relics of the traditional feasting before the fast. Shrove Tuesday is
famous for pancake calebration. There is some competition at Westminster
School: the pancakes are tossed over a bar by the cook and struggled for
by a small group of selected boys. The boy who manages to get the
largest piece is given a present. This tradition dates from 1445. In the
morning the first church bell on Orley is rung for the competitors to
make pancakes. The second ring is a signal for cooking them. The third
cakes. The second ring is a signal for cooking them. The third
bell set rung for the copetitors to gather at the Market Square. Then
the Pancake bell is sounded and the ladies set off from the church
porch, tossing their pancakes three times as they run. Each woman must
wear an apron and a hat or scarf over her head. The winner is given a
Prayer Book Dy the Vicar.
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is customary to vasit
one's mother on that day. Mother ought to be given a present - tea,
flowers or a simnel cake. It is possible to buy the cake, they are sold
in every confectionery. But it is preferrable to make it at home. The
way Mothering Sunday is celebrated has much in common with the
International Women's Day celebration in Russia.
Good Friday is the first Friday before Easter. It is the day when all
sorts of taboos on various works are in force. Also it is a good day for
shifting beers, for sowing potatoes, peas, beans, parsley, and pruning
rose trees. Good Friday brings the once sacred cakes, the famous Hot
Cross buns. These must be spiced and the dough marked with a cross
Eggs, chickens, rabbits and flowers are all symbols of new life.
Chocolate and fruit cake covered with marzipan show that fasting is
over. Wherever Easter is celebrated, their Easter eggs are usually to be
found. In England, just as in Russia, Easter is a time for giving and
receiving of presents that traditionally take the form of an Easter egg.
Easter egg is a real hard-boiled egg dyed in bright colors or decorated
with some elaborate pattern. Coloring and decorating eggs for Easter is
a very ancient custom. Many people, however, avoid using artificial dyes
and prefer to boil eggs with the outer skin of an onion, which makes the
eggs shells yellow or brown. In fact, the color depends on the amount of
onion skin added. In ancient times they used many different natural dyes
fir the purpose. The dyes were obtained mainly from leaves, flowers and
At present Easter eggs are also made of chocolate, sugar, metals, wood,
ceramics and other materials at hand. They may differ in size, ranging
from enormous to tiny, no bigger than a robin's egg. Easter Sunday is
solemnly celebrated in London. Each year the capital city of Britain
greets the spring with a spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park.
The great procession, or parade, begins at 3 p.m. The parade consists of
many decorated floats, entered by various organizations in and outside
London. Some of the finest bands in the country take part in the parade.
At the rear of the parade is usually the very beautiful float richly
decorated with flowers. It is called the Jersey one because the spring
flowers bloom early on the Island of Jersey.
In England, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game
has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ's
tomb then He was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to
the New World. It consists of rolling coloured, hardboiled egg down a
olling coloured, hardboiled egg down a
slope until they are cracked and broken after whish they are eaten by
their owners. In some districts this is a competitive game, the winner
being the player whose egg remains longest undamaged, but more usually,
the fun consists simply of the rolling and eating.
St. David’s Day
March 1st is a very important day for Welsh people. It’s St. David’s
Day. He’s the “patron” or national saint of Wales. On March 1st, the
Welsh celebrate St. Davids Day and wear daffodils in the buttonholes of
their coats or jackets.
May 1st was an important day in the Middle Ages. In the very early
morning, young girls went to the fields and washed their faces with dew.
They believed this made them very beautiful for a year affer that. Also
on May Day the young men of each village tried to win prizes with their
bows and arrows, and people danced round the maypole.
Many English-villages still have a maypole, and on May 1st, the
villagers dance round it.
Midsummer’s Day, June 24th, is the longest day of the year. On that day
you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England.
Stonehenge is on of Europe’s biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones
are ten or twelve metres high. It is also very old. The earliest part of
Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old. But what was Stonehenge? A holy
place? A market? Or was it a kind of calendar? Many people think that
the Druids used it for a calendar. The Druids were the priests in
Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge
to know the start of months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain
today, too. And every June 24th a lot of them go to Stonehenge. On that
morning the sun shines on one famous stone – the Heel stone. For the
Druids this is a very important moment in the year. But for a lot of
British people it is just a strange old custom.
November, 5 is Guy Fawkes’s Day
On the 5th of November in almost every town and village in England one
can see fire burning, fireworks, cracking and lighting up the sky, small
groups of children pulling round in a home made cart, a figure that
looks something like a man but consists of an old suit of clothes,
stuffed with straw. The children sing:" Remember, remember the 5th of
November; Gun powder, treason and plot". And they ask passers-by for "a
penny for the Guy" But the children with "the Guy" are not likely to
know who or what day they are celebrating. They have done this more or
less every 5th of November since 1605. At that time James the First was
on the throne. He was hated with many people especially the Roman
Catholics against whom many sever laws had been passed. A number of
Catholics chief of whom was Robert Catesby determined to kill the King
and his ministers by blowing up the house of Parliament with gunpowder.
To help them in this they got Guy Fawker, a soldier of fortune, who
would do the actual work. The day fixed for attempt was the 5th of
November, the day on which the Parliament was to open. But one of the
ay on which the Parliament was to open. But one of the
conspirators had several friends in the parliament and he didn't want
them to die. So he wrote a letter to Lord Monteagle begging him to make
some excuse to be absent from parliament if he valued his life. Lord
Monteagle took the letter hurrily to the King. Guards were sent at once
to examine the cellars of the house of Parliament. And there they found
Guy Fawker about to fire a trail of gunpowder. He was tortured and
hanged, Catesby was killed, resisting arrest in his own house. In memory
of that day bonfires are still lighted, fireworks shoot across the
November sky and figures of Guy Fawker are burnt in the streets.
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic
Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve.
November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day
of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic
Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called
Samhain (sowen), the Celtic New year.
One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those
who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of
living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their
only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and
time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to
intermingle with the living.
Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the
night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their
homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in
all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the
neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away
spirits looking for bodies to possess.
Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires
was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic
tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire
that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach.
Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stake who
was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to the
spirits. Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth.
The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first
century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the
other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to
honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona
is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of
bobbing for apples on Halloween. The thrust of the practices also
changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit
possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts,
and witches took on a more ceremonial role.
The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish
840's by Irish
immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the
favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and
unhinging fence gates.
The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with
the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called
souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from
village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces
of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive,
the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead
relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead
remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by
strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.
The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the
tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and
trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image
of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack
made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he
would promise to let him down the tree.
According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to
Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell
because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single
ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed
inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.
The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. But when
the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more
plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a
hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
So, although some pagan groups, cults, and Satanists may have adopted
Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out
of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a New
Year, and out of medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even
many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the
kids. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.
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 jump over the fire to bring good luck. Now we light candles in
Halloween is also a good time to find out the future. Want to find out
who you will marry? Here are two ways you might try to find out:
- Apple-bobbing - Float a number of apples in a bowl of water, and try
to catch one using only your teeth. When you have caught one, peel it in
one unbroken strip, and throw the strip of peel over your left shoulder.
The letter the peel forms is the initial of your future husband or wife.
Nut-cracking - Place two nuts (such as conkers) on a fire. Give the nuts
the names of two possible lovers and the one that cracks first will be
The trooping of the colour
The Queen is the only person in Britain with two birthdays. Her real
birthday is on April 21st, but she has an "official" birthday, too.
That's on the second Saturday in June. And on the Queen's official
birthday, there is a traditional ceremony called the Trooping of the
Colour. It's a big parade with brass bands and hundreds of soldiers at
Horse Guards' Parade in London. A "regiment" of the Queen's soldiers,
the Guards, march in front of her. At the front of the parade is the
regiment's flag or "colour".
The Guards are trooping the colour. Thousands of Londoners and visitors
watch in Horse Guards' Parade. And millions of people at home watch it
The changing of the guard
This happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's home in London.
Soldiers stand in front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers (the
"guard") change. One group leaves and another arrives. In summer and
winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11.30 every morning and
watch the Changing of the Guard.
Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday, at Easter. On that day
the Queen gives Maundy money to a group of old people. This tradition is
over 1,000 years old. At one time the king or queen washed the feet of
poor, old pedple on Maundy Thursday. That stopped in 1754.
Here's a very different royal tradition. On the River Thames there are
hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birds belong,
traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on the
Thames are about two months old. Then the Queen's swan keeper goes, in a
boat, from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and
marks the royal ones. The name of this strange but interesting custom is
The Queen’s telegram
This custom is not very old, but it's for very old people. On his or her
one hundredth birthday, a British person gets a telegram from the Queen.
The state opening of parliament
Parliament, not the Royal Family, controls modern Britain. But
traditionally the Queen opens Parliament every autumn. She travels from
Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in a gold carriage - the
Irish State Coach. At the Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a
“throne” in the House of Lords. Then she reads the “Queen's Speech”. At
State Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown. She wears other
jewels from the Crown Jewels, too.
The order of the Garter Ceremony
The Order of the Garter ceremony has a long history. King Edward III
started the Order in the fourteenth centur', that time, the people in
the Order were the twent', four bravest knights in England. Now the
knights of thc Order aren't all soldiers. They're members of the House
of Lords, church leaders or politicians. There are some foreign knights,
too. For example, the King of Norway, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and
the Emperor of Japan. They're called Extra Knights of the Garter. The
r of Japan. They're called Extra Knights of the Garter. The
Queen is the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. But she isn't the
only royal person in the Order. Prince Charles and Prince Philip are
Royal Knights, and the Queen Mother is a Lady of the Garter.
In June the Order his a traditional ceremony at Windsor Castle. This is
the Queen's favourite castle. It's also the home of the Order ~ the
Garter. All the knights walk from the castle to St George's Chapel. The
royal church at Windsor. They wear the traditional "robes" of the Order.
These robes are verv heavv. In tact King Edward VIII once called them
'ridiculous". But they're an important part of one ot Britain's oldest
The Queen’s Christmas speech
Now here's a modern royal custom. On Christmas Day at 3.00 in the
afternoon the Queen makes a speech on radio and TV. It's ten minutes
long. In it she talks to the people of the United Kingdom and the
Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a large group of countries. In the
past they were all in the British Empire. Australia, India, Canada and
New Zealand are among the 49 members.
The B.B.C. (the British Broadcasting Corporation) sends the Queen's
speech to every Commonwealth countrv. In her speech the Queen talks
about the past year. Traditionallv in speeches, kings or queens say “we”
not “I” Queen Elizabeth II doesn't do this. She says “My husband and I”
or just 'I''.
The Queen doesn't make her speech on Christmas Day. She films it a few
weeks before. Then she spends Christmas with her familY at Windsor. Does
she watch the speech on TV? Nobody knows.
Talking about the weather
The British talk about the weather a lot. For example, ''Isn't it a
beautiful morning?" or, '’Very cold today, isn't it?" They talk about
the weather because it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun cloud, snow -
they can all happen in a British winter - or a British summer.
At British banks, shops, cinemas, theatres or bus stops you can always
see people in queues. They stand in a line and wait quietly, often for a
long time. Each new person stands at the end of the queue - sometimes in
rain, wind or snow.
Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to
show that they didn't have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in
most countries. In Britain you don't shake hands with your friends and
family. But you do shake hands when you meet a person for the first
time. You also say "How do you do?" This is not really a question, it's
a tradition. The correct answer is exactly the same, "How do you do?"
The British sen'd birthday cards and often give birthday presents. There
are cards for other days, too:
Christmas cards, Valentine's Day cards, Mother's Day cards, Father's Day
cards, Easter cards, Wedding Anniversary cards, Good Luck cards,
"Congratulations On Your New Baby" cards, and "Get Well Soon" cards.
It's the custom to have a party to celebrate:
- A person's birthday
- A new house
- Christmas (at home, and often in offices, too)
- An engagement (a promise to marry)
- A wedding (marriage)
- New Year's Eve
Wrong side of the bed
When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed
on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People
believe that the way they rose in the morning affected their behavior
throughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The
left always having been linked with evil.
Blowing out the cand candles
The custom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to the ancient
Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting, used to
place honey cakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. The
cakes were round like the full moon and lit with tapers. This custom was
next recorded in the middle ages when German peasants lit tapers on
birthday cakes, the number lit indicating the person's age, plus an
extra one to represent the light of life. From earliest days burning
tapers had been endued with mystical significance and it was
believedthat when blown out they had the power to grant a secret wish
and ensure a happy year ahead.
I have chosen the topic ‘British customs and traditions’ because I enjoy
learning the English language and wanted to know more about British ways
of life and traditions. Working on this topic I came to the conclusion
that British people are very conservative. They are proud of their
traditions and carefully keep them up. It was interesting to know that
foreigners coming to England are stuck at once by quite a number of
customs and peculiarities.
So I think of Britain as a place with a lot of different types of people
who observe their traditions.
Стивен Раблей «Customs and traditions in Britain», изд. «Longman Group»,
Усова Г. С. «British history», изд. «Лань», г. С.-Петербург, 1999г.;
Хишунина Т. Н. «Customs, traditions and holidays in Britain», изд.
«Просвещение», г. С.-Петербург, 1975г.;
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