Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

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In USA many people have New Year parties. A party usually begins at about 8 oclock and goes on until early morning. At midnight they listen to the chimes of Big Ben, drink a toast to the New Year and Sing Auld Lang Syne.

In London crowds usually gather round the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus and welcome the New Year.

There are some traditions on New Years Day. One of them is the old First Footing. The first man to come into the house is very important. The Englishman believes that he brings luck. This man (not a woman) must be healthy, young, pretty looking. He brings presents-bread, a piece of coal or a coin. On the New Years Day families watch the old year out and the New Year in.

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

In Scotland the New Years Day is also a public holiday. Some people ignore it completely and go to bed at the same time as usual on New Years 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.

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 buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savories, 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.

Hogmanay Celebrations

Hogmanay is a Scottish name for New Years Eve, and is a time for merrymaking, the giving of presents and the observance of the old custom of First Footing. One of the most interesting of Scottish Hogmanay celebrations is the Flambeaux Procession at Comrie, Perthshire. Such processions can be traced back to the time of the ancient Druids. There is a procession of townsfolk in fancy dress carrying large torches. They are led by pipers. When the procession has completed its tour, the flambeaux (torches) are thrown into a pile, and everyone dances around the blaze until the torches have burned out.

The Night of Hogmanay

Nowhere else in Britain is the arrival of the New Year celebrated so wholeheartedly as in Scotland.

Throughout Scotland, the preparations for greeting the New Year start with a minor spring-cleaning. Brass and silver must be glittering and fresh linen must be put on the beds. No routine work may be left unfinished; stockings must be darned, tears mended, clocks wound up, musical instruments tuned, and pictures hung straight. In addition, all outstanding bills are paid, overdue letters written and borrowed books returned. At least, that is the idea!

Most important of all, there must be plenty of good things to eat. Innumerable homes reek of celestial grocery plum puddings and currant buns, spices and cordials, apples and lemons, tangerines and toffee. In mansion and farmhouse, in suburban villa and city tenement, the table is spread with festive fare. Essential to Hogmanay are cakes and kebbuck (oatcakes and cheese), shortbread, and either black bun or currant loaf. There are flanked with bottles of wine and the mountain dew that is the poetic name for whisky.

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.

In the cities and burghs, the New Year receives a communal welcome, the traditional gathering-place being the Mercat Cross, the hub and symbol of the old burgh life. In Edinburgh, however, the crowd has slid a few yards down the hill from the Mercat Cross to the Tron Kirk being lured thither, no doubt, by the four-faced clock in the tower. As the night advances, Princes Street becomes as thronged as it normally is at noon, and there is growing excitement in the air. Towards midnight, all steps turn to the Tron Kirk, where a lively, swaying crowd awaits the Chaplin o the Twal (the striking of 12 oclock). As the hands of the clock in the tower approach the hour, a hush falls on the waiting throng, the atmosphere grows tense, and then suddenly there comes a roar from a myriad throats. The bells forth, the sirens scream the New Year is born!

Many families prefer to bring in the New Year at home, with music or dancing, cards or talk. As the evening advances, the fire is piled high for the brighter the fire, the better the luck. The members of the household seat themselves round the hearth, and when the hands of the clock approach the hour, the head of the house rises, goes to the main door, opens it wide, and holds it thus until the last stroke of midnight has died away. Then he shuts it quietly and returns to the family circle. He has let the Old Year out and the New Year in. now greetings and small gifts are exchanged, glasses are filled and already the First-Footers are at the door.

: 1/05/2007