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Numer: 25941
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Dział: Języki obce

British Holidays

Britain has fewer holidays than any other European country. Average employee gets four weeks of paid holiday a year. The most well-known places where many British people spend their holidays are seaside resort towns like Blackpool. There are also other holidays – most of them are either before or after a weekend to make it more practical. Nowadays many people spend their holidays abroad – French coast. Many also decide on short 3 day holidays.
This is a calendar of holidays celebrated in Britain.

January
New Year’s Eve – all over Britain there are celebrations on this day - parties are organized but unlike in Poland they finish at midnight. In London many go to the traditional celebration in Trafalgar Square. People meet with their friends and relatives. In Scotland and the North of England people go first footing. They simply call at friends’ houses, trying to be the first person through the door after midnight. The visitor is to carry a piece of coal and a glass of water to bring luck for the family he is visiting. The luckiest type of first footer is a tall, dark man.
New Year’s Day is a public holiday in UK as well as is 2nd January in Scotland. On this day people make New Year’s resolutions.
Up-Helly-Aa – celebrated by people in Shetlands. They remember the Vikings, who came there in 9th century, with a festival called Up-Helly-Aa. Every winter the people from Lerwick – make a model of a Viking ship with the head of a dragon at the front. On the night of the festival people dress in Viking clothes. They carry the ship through the town to the sea. There the ship is burnt. It is done because the Vikings put their dead men in ships and burned them.
February
Crufts Dog Show – dog breeders from all over the world bring their valuable dogs to take part in this show in London. The best dog is given the title ‘Crufts Supreme Champion’.
Saint Valentine’s Day – 14th February. On this day people send one another Valentine’s cards but they usually do not sign them – so the recipient has to guess who this card is from. Every year this day thousands of people travel to a small village called Gretna Green on Scotland’s border with England. Many of them go there to get married and to go through mock wedding ceremonies. The tradition of Gretna Green dates back to 1754 when in England it was impossible for people under twenty one to get married without their parents permission. In Scotland this permission was not required so young people used this oportunity of marriage at the early age.
March
1st March - is a very important day for Welsh people. It’s St David’s Day. He’s the patron saint of Wales. The Welsh celebrate this day, wear daffodils in the buttonholes of their coats.
The Boat Race – this is a rowing race between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It has been held on the River Thames in London almost every year since 1836. The length of the course is 4,5 miles.
Pancake Day – which is otherwise called as Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent starts (41 days before Easter). Traditionally it is a last day before Easter when you can eat whatever you want. Pancakes are made of flour, eggs and milk. During this day a pancake race is organised. Each competitor carries a pancake in a frying pan. While running they have to throw the pancake in the air and catch it again in the pan.
Mother’s Day - it is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
April
April Fool’s Day – on 1st April you can play jokes on people.
Mauday Money – the day before Good Friday. On that day the Queen gives money to a group of old people. This tradition is over 1,000 years old. At one time the king or the queen would wash the feet of poor, old people on Maundy Thursday. That stopped in 1754.
Easter – includes Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday – Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays in England. Schools are closed for two weeks at Easter. On Good Friday people eat hot cross buns – small, sweet rolls. On Easter Sunday people give each other chocolate eggs. The eggs are usually hollow and contain sweets. On Easter Monday many people travel to the seaside for the day or go and watch one of the many sporting events, such as football or horse-racing.
The London Marathon – one of the biggest marathons in the world. Each year about 30,000 people start the race and about 25,000 finish. There is also a similar race for people in wheelchairs.
May
May Day – it is a pagan festival to celebrate the end of winter and welcome summer. May 1st was an important day in the Middle Ages. In the early morning young girls used to go to the fields this day to wash their faces with dew. They believed it made them beautiful for a year after that. Young man of each village tried to win prizes with their bows and arrows. People danced round the Maypole – which is a symbol of fertility. At school and in smaller villages children may dance traditional spring dances such as the Maypole, when they weave their brightly coloured scarves around a long pole. 1st May is a public holiday in England.
FA (Football Association) Cup Final – two English football clubs play to win the FA Cup. The match takes place at Wembley Stadium in London. In Scotland a similar FA Cup Final is played at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
Spring Bank Holiday – the last Monday in May is a public holiday in England.
June
Royal Ascot – one of the biggest horse-race meetings in Britain. It is held at Ascot – in the South of England. The queen arrives there from Windsor Castle. Ascot lasts for four days.
Trooping the Colour – this is the second Saturday in June and celebrates the Queen’s official birthday (her real birthday is 21st April). Queen watches a parade of hundred of soldiers dressed in colourful uniforms.
Midsummer’s Day – 24th June is the longest day of the year. On that day very old custom can be observed at Stonehenge in Wiltshire in England. Every year on that day Druids go to Stonehenge. On that day the sun shines on one famous stone – the Heel Stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment in the year.
Father’s Day – the third Sunday in June. However, most British fathers do not even know that such a special day exists at all. It is rather a commercial invention.
July
Wimbledon – one of the world greatest tennis championship and the only one which is played on grass. It is held in the last week of June and the first week of July at Wimbledon in south-west London
Henley Regatta – the largest rowing competition in Britain. It is held at Henley-on-Thames. The regatta – boat racing competition has been held there almost every year since 1839.
Orangemen’s Day – 12th July – this is a public holiday only in Northern Ireland. On this day both the catholic part of the community as well as the protestant part has its special day. It’s St Patrick’s Day for the Catholic part.
August
Notting Hill Carnival – it is the biggest carnival outside Brazil. It is held at Notting Hill in West London. People who take part in it dress up in fabulous, colourful costumes. African and Caribbean music is played.
Proms – this is a popular series of classical music concerts. The season lasts seven weeks and there are concerts every night. The season ends in the middle of September. Most of the concerts are performed at the Royal Albert Hall, in London. Many people like to go to the Last Night of the Proms as the orchestra plays popular tunes so people like to dance to them.
Summer Bank Holiday – the last Monday in August is a public holiday.
September
Blackpool Illuminations – Blackpool is the most popular holiday resort in Britain. Every year 16 million visitors arrive there. Even when summer ends there are still things to see. From 1st September to 1st November seven miles of promenades are illuminated at night. The theme of the illumination changes every year
Harvest Festivals – these are Christian festivals. Churches are decorated with fruit, vegetables and flowers brought by people. This is held to thank God for good harvest.
October
Hallowe’en – this is a pagan festival when ghosts and witches are free. It celebrates the return of the souls of dead who come back to visit the places where they used to live. It takes place on 31st October. There are lots of Hallowe’en parties at night when people wear masks and dress as ghosts, witches or monsters. Some people make special lamps from a large fruit – pumpkin. Some children follow American custom called ‘Trick or Treat’. They knock at other people’s houses and ask, ‘Trick or treat?’. If they are given some money, they go away. Otherwise they play a trick on you.
November
London to Brigton Veteran Car Rally – usually on the first Sunday in November. Hundreds of veteran cars head for Brighton from London.
Guy Fawkes’ Night (Bonfire Night) – Guy Fawkes is Britain’s most famous terrorist. On November 5th 1605 he tried to kill King James I and blow up the Houses of Parliament. He and a group of friends put a bomb under the Houses of Parliament in London but the plot was discovered. Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London and there the King’s men cut off his head. People celebrate this event every November. They build wood fires or ‘bonfire’ in their gardens. They also make models of Guy Fawkes. On top of each bonfire they put the guy. Guy is made of straw, old clothes and newspapers. Before 5th November, children use their guys to make money. They stand in the street and shout ‘Penny for the guy’.
Remembrance Sunday - second Sunday in November. This day commemorates the dead of both World Wars and of more recent conflicts. On and before this day money is collected in the street on behalf of charities. The people who give money are given paper poppies to pin to their clothes.
December
Pantomimes – plays performed before Christmas usually by children. They are based on fairy tales, such as Cindirella, and mix comedy, song and dance.
Christmas - this is the most important holiday for British people. In fact Christmas period starts in Britain in the beginning of December. People send each other Christmas cards, pay each other visits, organise parties. The most important day is 25th December – Christmas Day. This day people open their presents and have family dinner. A traditional Christmas dinner includes a roast turkey, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts and Christmas pudding. In the afternoon they watch the Queen on television as she delivers her traditional Christmas message to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. On 26th December – Boxing Day, they visit friends or relatives.

Bibliography
1. Peter Bromhead, Life in Modern Britain, London Group Unlimited, 1991
2. Adrian Room, An A to Z of British Life, Oxford University Press, 1990
3. David Mc Dowall, Britain in close-up
4. James O’Driscoll, Britain, Oxford University Press, 1995
5. Michael Vaughan – Rees, In Britain, Chancerel International Publishers, 1995
6. Susan Sheerin, Jonathan Seath, Gillian White, Spotlight on Britain, Oxford University Press, 1995
7. John Oakland, British Civilization, 1995

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