Holidays and traditions in english-speaking countries

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es of New England, but not on the same day. In October 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving. In 191, the US Congress Named fourth Thursday of November a Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day is a “day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. Regular annual observance began in 1879. Since 1957 Thanksgiving Day has been observed on the second Monday in October.



St. Andrews Day


In some areas, such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Northamptonshire, St Andrew was regarded as the patron saint of lace-makers and his day was thus kept as a holiday, or “tendering feast”, by many in that trade. Thomas Sternberg, describing customs in mid-19th-century Northampton shire, claims that St Andrews Day Old Style (11 December) was a major festival day “in many out of the way villages” of the country: “… the day is one of unbridled license- a kind of carnival; village scholars bar out the master, the lace schools are deserted, and drinking and feasting prevail to a riotous extent. Towards evening the villagers walk about and masquerade, the women wearing mens dress and the men wearing female

Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


attire, visiting one anothers cottages and drinking hot Elderberry wine, the chief beverage of the season …”. In Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, a future of the day was the making and eating of Tandry Wigs. A strange belief reported Wright and Lones dedicate that wherever lilies of the valley grow wild the parish church is usually to St Andrew.





Christmas Day is observed on the 25th of December. In Britain this day was а festival long before the conversion to Christianity. The English historian the Venerable Bede relates that “the ancient peoples of Angli began the year on the 25th of December, and the very night was called in their tongue modranecht, that is mothers night. Thus it is not surprising that many social customs connected with the celebration of Christmas go back to pagan times, as, for instance, the giving of presents. Indeed, in 1644 the English puritans forbade the keeping of Christmas by Act of Parliament, on the grounds that it was а heathen festival. At the Restoration Charles II revived the feast.

Though religion in Britain has been steadily losing ground and Christmas has practically no religious significance for the majority of the population of modern Britain, it is still the most widely celebrated festival in all its parts except Scotland. The reason for this is clear. With its numerous, often rather quaint social customs, it is undoubtedly the most colourful holiday of the year, and, moreover one that has always been, even in the days when most people were practising Christian, а time for eating, drinking and making merry.

However, despite the popularity of Christmas, quite а number of English people dislike this festival, and even those who seem to celebrate it wholeheartedly, have certain reservations about it. The main reason for this is that Christmas has become the most commercialized festival of the year. The customs and traditions connected with Christmas, for example giving presents and having а real spree once а year, made it an easy prey to the retailers, who, using modern methods of advertising, force the customer to buy what he neither wants nor, often, can reasonably afford.

It is not only children and members of the family that exchange presents nowadays. Advertising has widened this circle to include not only friends and distant relations, but also people you work with. An average English family sends dozens and dozens of Christmas cards, and gives and receive almost as many often practically useless presents. For people who are well off this entails no hardship, but it is no small burden for families with small budgets. Thus saving up for Christmas often starts months before the festival, and Christmas clubs have become а national institution among the working class and lower-middle class. These are generally run by shopkeepers and publicans over а period of about eight weeks or longer. Into these the housewives pay each week а certain amount of money for their Christmas bird


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


and joint, their Christmas groceries and so on, the husband as а rule paying into the club run by the local pub, for the drinks.

As much of this spending is forced upon people and often means that а family has to do without things they really need, it inevitably leads to resentment towards the

festival. Needless to say that it isnt the old customs and traditions that are to blame, but those who make huge profits out of the nationwide spending spree which they themselves had boosted beyond any reasonable proportion.




The Christmas Pantomime


А pantomime is а traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is meant for children, but adults enjoy just as much. It is а very old form of entertainment, and can be traced back to 16th century Italian comedies. Harlequin is а character from these old comedies.

There have been а lot of changes over the years. Singing and dancing and all kinds of jokes have been added; but the stories which are told are still fairy tales, with а hero, а heroine, and а villian. Because they are fairy tales we do not have to ask who will win in the end! The hero always wins the beautiful princess, the fairy queen it triumphant and the demon king is defeated. In every pantomime there are always three main characters. These are the “principal boy”, the “principal girl”, and the “dame”. The principal boy is the hero and he is always played by а girl. The principal girl is the heroine, who always marries the principal boy in the end. The dame is а comic figure, usually the mother of the principal boy or girl, and is always played by а man.

In addition, you can be sure there will always be а “good fairy” and а “bad fairy” perhaps an ogre or а demon king.

Pantomimes are changing all the time. Every year, someone has а new idea to make them more exciting or more up-to-date. There are pantomimes on ice, with all the actors skating; pantomimes with а well-known pop singer as the principal boy or girl; or pantomimes with а famous comedian from the English theatre as the dame. But the old stories remain, side by side with the new ideas.





This is the day when one visits friends, goes for а long walk or just sits around recovering from too much food everything to eat is cold. In the country there are usually Boxing Day Meets (fox- hunting). In the big cities and towns tradition on that day demands а visit to the pantomime, where once again one is entertained by the story of Cinderella, Puss in Boots or whoever it may be the story being protracted


Holidays and traditions in English speaking countries.


and elaborated into as many spectacular scenes as the producer thinks one can take at а sitting.





One of the most important functions of the Citys eighty-four Livery Companies is the election of Londons Lord Mayor at the Guildhall at 12 noon on Michaelmas Day (September 29th). The public are admitted to the ceremony. It provides one of the many impressive and colourful spectacles for which London is famed. The reigning Lord Мауоr and Sheriffs, carrying posies, walk in procession to the Guildhall and take their places on the dais, which is strewn with sweet-smelling herbs. The Recorder announces that the representatives of the Livery Companies have been called together to select two Aldermen for the office of Lord Мауоr of London. From the selected two, the Court of Aldermen will choose one. The Мауоr, Aldermen and other senior officials then withdraw, and the Livery select their two nominations. Usually the choice is unanimous, and the Liverymen all hold up their hands and shout “All!”. The Sergeant-at-Arms takes the mace from the table and, accompanied by the Sheriffs, takes the two names to the Court of Aldermen, who then proceed to select the Mayor Elect. The bells of the City ring out as the Мауоr and the Mayor Elect leave the Guildhall the state coach for the Mansion House.





II. Customs, Weddings, Births and Christenings.




In Britain the custom of becoming engaged is still generally retained, though many young people dispense with it, and the number of such couples is increasing. As а rule, an engagement is announced as soon as а girl has accepted а proposal of marriage, but in some cases it is done а good time afterwards. Rules of etiquette dictate that the girls parents should be the first to hear the news; in practice, however, it is often the couples friends who are taken into confidence before either of the parents. If а man has not yet met his future in-laws he does so at the first opportunity, whereas his parents usually write them а friendly letter. It is then up to the girls mother to invite her daughters future in-laws, to а meal or drinks. Quite often, of course, the man has been а frequent visitor at the girls house long before the engagement, and their families are