Let’s talk about customs and traditions of an English-speaking country
The British have many traditions, manners & customs of which they can be proud. English traditions can be subdivided into the traditions dealing with private life of the English national & religious holidays, public celebrations, traditional ceremonies & traditional sporting events. To know the customs & traditions means to understand the people, their art & culture better.
England has preserved its old ceremonies & traditions to a greater extend than any other country in the world. Most of these traditions have been kept up without interruption since the thirteenth century. Foreigners coming to England are impressed by a great number of ceremonies which seem to be incompatible (íåñîâìåñòèìûé) with the modern traffic & technical conditions of a highly developed country.
Though there are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, the days on which people need not go to work. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Year’s 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 simply days on which people relax, eat, drink and make merry.
Besides public holidays, there are other holidays, anniversaries and simply days off, 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.
1. Do you find some British holidays and traditions special? Why (not)?
When people come from other countries they usually look for something special and traditional in this country.
Every year on the 5th of November Bonfire night is celebrated all over the UK. It goes back to the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot. The event is commemorated by fireworks and burning “guys” on bonfires.
Traditionally, 41 days before Easter Sunday is a special day for Christians, called Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. It is the day before Lent starts. On Pancake Day people used to celebrate the last day before Easter when they could eat what they wanted. All over England there were pancake races on or near Shrove Tuesday. The tradition is still around today. The rules of pancake races are different in different places, but each participant, usually a woman, has to wear an apron and a hat or a scarf.
2. Would you like to take part in a British holiday celebration? Why?
If I had such a chance it would be Christmas.
Christmas is the main public holiday in Britain. It is celebrated on the 25th 0f December. Christmas is a Christian festival to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. This holiday is celebrated together with family, relatives and friends who share the much loved customs and traditions which have been around for centuries.
Long before Christmas time shops become very busy, because a lot of people buy Christmas presents. People also buy Christmas cards to send to their friends and relatives, whatch nativity plays and go carol singing. They put up Christmas decorations inside and outside homes and decorate Christmas trees too. The traditional Christmas decorations are evergreens, such as holly, mistletoe and ivy.
On Christmas Eve (the 24th of December) some people go to a special church service called Midnight Mass which starts at 12 o’clock at night. In churches people sing Christmas carols – special religious songs. Sometimes groups of people walk along the streets and sing carols at the doors of houses. One of the well-known carols is “Silent Night”.
Young children are told that Santa Claus will bring them presents if they are good. Before going to bed on Christmas Eve the children hang stockings at the back of their beds, for Santa Claus to put the presents in when he comes in the middle of the night through the chimney.
Christmas is the day when people stay at home, open their presents and eat and drink together. The most important meal is Christmas dinner. The typical meal consists of turkey with potatoes and other vegetables, followed by a Christmas pudding. Other traditional foods include a special Christmas cake and mince pies — small round cakes filled with a mixture of apples, raisins and spices.
The day after Christmas, the 26th of December, is also a public holiday. It is called Boxing Day. The name goes back to the old tradition: some time before Christmas, boxes were placed in churches for the people to put some money or presents for the poor. On the day after Christmas, the 26th of December, the priest opened the box and gave the contents away to poor people.
3. What questions can you ask a British teenager about his/her birthday celebration?
Birthdays are always happy events for all children and teens. And of course it’s interesting to know about these celebrations in Britain. So the questions may be:
Where do you like to celebrate your birthday party?
Do you prefer to invite your friends and relatives together?
What presents do you usually get for your birthday?
4. What national souvenirs would you buy in Britain?
Typical English presents (souvenirs) to take back home are rather various.
Common themes depicted on many English souvenirs include The Royal Family, Policemen, Royal Guards, London Transport, Union Flag and famous London buildings.
You can buy thimbles (íàï¸ðñòêè), bells, T-shirts, soft toys, models, magnets, pens and pencils, mouse mats, caps, pin badges, post boxes, aprons and much more.
5. Nowadays more and more people are getting interested in customs and traditions of different countries. What do you think about it?
So many countries so many customs, an English proverb says. The combination of the words tradition & custom means a usual manner of doing something, of conduct passed on from generation to generation.
By comparing the customs and cultures of people from other countries, we can learn how others view the world and why they think the way they do. By understanding others, we can not only form deeper friendships with others but can also learn more about ourselves and our own culture.