Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

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Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

I. Britain round the calendar.


There are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, that is days on which people need not go in to work. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Years Day is also a public holiday. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it would be right to say that for the greater part of the population they have long lost their religious significance and are simply days on which people relax, eat, drink and make merry. All the public holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day observed on December 25th and 26th respectively, are movable, that is they do not fall on the same day each year. Good Friday and Easter Monday depend on Easter Sunday which falls on the first Sunday after a full moon on or after March 21st. the Spring Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of May or on the first Monday of June, while the Late Summer Bank Holiday comes on the last Monday in August or on the first Monday in September, depending on which of the Mondays is nearer to June 1st and September 1st respectively.

Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries and simply days, for example Pancake Day and Bonfire Night, on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, they are ordinary working days.


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 Years Eve. Many others, however, do celebration it in one way or another, the type of celebration varying very much according to the local custom, family traditions 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 oclock 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 buffer 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 toast is drunk to the New Year. Then the party goes on.

Another popular way of celebrating the New Year is to go to a New Years dance. Most hotels and dance halls hold a special dance on New Years 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

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

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 programmers and usually show Scottish ones.

January 1st, New Years Day, is not a public holiday, unfortunately 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 Years 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.

In Canada New Years Day has a long tradition of celebration. New Years Eve in French Canada was (and still is) marked by the custom of groups of young men, to dress in COLOURful attire and go from house to house, singing and begging gifts for the poor. New Years Day was (and is) a time for paying calls on friends and neighbours and for asking the blessing of the head of the family. The early Governors held a public reception for the men of the community on New Years morning, a custom preserved down to the present day. While New Years Day is of less significance in English Canada than in French Canada, its a public holiday throughout the country. Wide spread merry-making begins on New Years Eve with house parties, dinner dances and special theatre entertainment. A customary feature of the occasion that suggests the Scottish contribution to the observation is the especially those that couldnt be arranged for Christmas, are held on New Years Day. New Year isnt such important holiday in England as Christmas. Some people dont celebrate it at all.

: 1/05/2007