Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

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о kind of alcohol, but it does not mean that he drinks only tea, as many people seem to think.

In spite of the leeks mentioned earlier, Saint Davids emblem is not that, but а dove. No one, not even the Welsh, can explain why they took leek to symbolize their country, but perhaps it was just as well. After all, they cant pin а dove to their coat!





Mothers Day is traditionally observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent (the Church season of penitence beginning on Ash Wednesday, the day of which varies from year to year). This is usually in March. The day used to be known as Mothering Sunday and dates from the time when many girls worked away from home as domestic servants in big households, where their hours of work were often very long Mothering Sunday was established as a holyday for these girls and gave them an


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


opportunity of going home to see their parents, especially their mother. They used to take presents with them, often given to them by the lady of the house.

When the labour situation changed and everyone was entitled to regular time off, this custom remained, although the day is now often called “Mothers Day”. People visit their mothers if possible and give them flowers and small presents. If they cannot go they send a “Mothers Day card”, or they may send one in any case. The family try to see that the mother has as little work to do as possible, sometimes

the husband or children take her breakfast in bed and they often help with the meals and the washing up. It is considered to be mothers day off.



St. Patricks Day


It is not a national holiday. Its an Irish religious holiday. St. Patrick is the patron of Ireland. Irish and Irish Americans celebrate the day. On the day they decorate their houses and streets with green shamrocks and wear something green. In large cities long parades march through the streets. Those who arent Irish themselves also wear green neckties and hair ribbons and take part in the celebration.






During the Easter Holidays the attention of the progressive people in Great Britain and indeed throughout the world is riveted first and foremost on the Easter Peace Marches, which took place for the first time in 1958 and have since become traditional. The people who participate in these marches come from different sections of society. Alongside workers and students march university professors, doctors, scientists, and engineers. More often than not the columns are joined by progressive people from abroad.

The character of the marches has changed over the years. The high-point was reached in the early sixties; this was followed by a lapse in enthusiasm when attendance fell off during the middle and late sixties. More recent years have seen a rise in the number of people attending the annual Easter March, as global problems have begun to affect the conscience of a broader section of the English population.




Londons Easter Parade


London greets the spring, and its early visitors, with a truly spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park on Easter Sunday each year. It is sponsored by the London Tourist Board and is usually planned around a central theme related to the history and attractions of London. The great procession, or parade, begins at 3 p. m., but it is

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


advisable to find a vantage-point well before that hour. The parade consists of a great many interesting and decorated floats, entered by various organizations in and outside the metropolis. Some of the finest bands in the country take part in the parade. At the rear of the parade is usually the very beautiful Jersey float, created from thousands of lovely spring blooms and bearing the Easter Princess and her attendants. It is an afternoon to remember.





April Fools Day or All Fools Day, named from the custom of playing practical jokes or sending friends on fools errands, on April 1st. Its timing seems related to the vernal equinox, when nature fools mankind with sudden changes from showers to sunshine. It is a season when all people, even the most dignified, are given an excuse to play the fool. In April comes the cuckoo, emblem of simpletons; hence in Scotland the victim is called “cuckoo” or “gowk”, as in the verse: On the first day of April, Hunt the gowk another mile. Hunting the gowk was a fruitless errand; so was hunting for hens teeth, for a square circle or for stirrup oil, the last-named proving to be several strokes from a leather strap.




May Day in Great Britain


As May 1st is not a public holiday in Great Britain, May Day celebrations are traditionally held on the Sunday following it, unless, of course, the 1st of May falls on a Sunday. On May Sunday workers march through the streets and hold meetings to voice their own demands and the demands of other progressive forces of the country. The issues involved may include demands for higher wages and better working conditions, protests against rising unemployment, demands for a change in the Governments policy, etc.



May Spring Festival


The 1st of May has also to some extent retained its old significance that of а pagan spring festival. In ancient times it used to be celebrated with garlands and flowers, dancing and games on the village green. А Maypole was erected a tall pole wreathed with flowers, to which in later times ribbons were attached and held by the dancers. The girls put on their best summer frocks, plaited flowers in their hair and round their waists and eagerly awaited the crowning of the May Queen. The most beautiful girl was crowned with а garland of flowers. After this great event Веге was dancing, often Morris dancing, with the dancers dressed in fancy costume, usually


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


representing characters in the Robin Hood legend. May-Day games and sports were followed by refreshments in the open.

This festival was disliked by the Puritans and suppressed during the Commonwealth, 1649 60. After the Restoration it was revived but has gradually almost died out. However, the Queen of May is still chosen in most counties, and in mаnу villages school Maypoles are erected around which the children dance. The famous ceremony of the meeting of the 1st of May still survives at Oxford, in Magdalen College. At 6 oclock in the morning the college choir gathers in the upper gallery of the college tower to greet the coming of the new day with song.





During the month of June, а day is set aside as the Queen s official birthday. This is usually the second Saturday in June. On this day there takes place on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall the magnificent spectacle of Trooping the Colour, which begins at about 11.15 а. m. (unless rain intervenes, when the ceremony is usually postponed until conditions are suitable).

This is pageantry of rаrе splendour, with the Queen riding side-saddle on а highly trained horse.

The colours of one of the five regiments of Foot Guards are trooped before the Sovereign. As she rides on to Horse Guards parade the massed array of the Brigade of Guards, dressed in ceremonial uniforms, await her inspection.

For twenty minutes the whole parade stands rigidly to attention while being inspected by the Queen. Then comes the Trooping ceremony itself, to be followed by the famous March Past of the Guards to the music of massed bands, at which the Queen takes the Salute. The precision drill of the regiments is notable.

The ceremony ends with the Queen returning to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards.

The Escort to the Colour, chosen normally in strict rotation, then mounts guard at the Palace.



Midsummers Day


Midsummers 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 one of Europes biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones are ten or twelve metres high. Its 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? We think 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


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


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 its just a strange old custom.





On Bank Holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to the coast. If the weather is fine many families take а picnic-lunch or tea with them and en