Customs and traditions of Great Britain icon

Customs and traditions of Great Britain



НазваниеCustoms and traditions of Great Britain
Дата конвертации18.07.2012
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Customs and traditions of Great Britain


Customs and traditions English customs and traditions, first of all, concerns United Kingdompolitical system. In Great Britain there is no written constitution, onlycustoms, traditions and precedents. After the English Revolution of GreatBritain is a constitutional monarchy headed by King (now Queen, Elizabeththe second). Traditionally the Queen acts only on the advice of herMinisters. She reigns but she does not rule.Englishmen have traditions not only in political, but in social life. Forexample, London, the capital of England, is traditionally divided intothree parts: the West End, the East end, and the City. The City is ahistorical, financial and business center of London. The East End is thedistrict inhabited by the workers, and the West End is a fashionableshopping and entertaining center. English people like to spend their freetime in numerous pubs where they can have a glass of beer and talk aboutdifferent things with their friends.The English are traditional about their meals. They eat eggs and bacon withtoasts for breakfast, pudding or apple pie for dessert. Every Englishfamily has five o'clock tea. аtypical feature of an English house is afireplace, even when there is central heating in the house.English people like domestic animals. Every family has a pet: a dog, a cator a bird.Politeness is a characteristic feature of Englishmen. They often say "Thankyou", "Sorry", "Beg your pardon". Russian people, I think, have to learnthis good custom.Englishmen have many traditional holidays, such as Christmas,St.Valentine's Day, Mother's day, Easter and others. Some English customs and traditions are famous all over the world.Bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather, for example. From Scotlandto Cornwall, the United Kingdom is full of customs and traditions. Hereare some of them.St. Valentine’s St. Valentine's Day roots in several different legends that havefound their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbolsof the day is Cupid, the Roman god of Love, Who is represented by the imageof a young boy with bow and arrow. Three hundred years after the death ofJesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe inthe Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prisonfor his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only becausehe was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. Hesupposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The night beforehe was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signingit, "from Your Valentine". Another legend tells us that this sameValentine, well-loved by all, wrote notes from his jail cell to childrenand friends who missed him. Whatever the odd mixture of origins, St.Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day that you showyour friend of loved one that you care. You can send candy to someone youthink is special. Or you can send "valentines" a greeting card named afterthe notes that St. Valentine wrote from jail. Valentines can besentimental, romantic, and heartfelt. They can be funny and friendly. Ifthe sender is shy, valentines can be anonymous. Americans of all ages asother people in different countries love to send and receive valentines.Handmade valentines, created by cutting hearts out of coloured paper, showthat a lot of thought was put into making them personal. Valentines can beheart-shaped, or have hearts, the symbol of love, on them. In elementaryschools, children make valentines, they have a small party withrefreshments. You can right a short rhyme inside the heart: There are gold ships And silver ships, But no ships Like friendship. Valentine cards are usually decorated with symbols of love andfriendship. These symbols were devised many centuries ago. Lace symbolisesa net for catching one's heart. If you get a Valentine with a piece of alace you may understand that the person who sent it must be crazy aboutyou. аsymbol should have several meanings, so some experts maintain thatlace stands for a bridal veil. аribbon means that the person is tired up,while hearts, which are the most common romantic symbol, denote eternallove. Red roses are also often used as a love emblem. Valentine's Day growsmore and more popular in many countries of the world. Some people havealready begun to celebrate it in Russia. They try to imitate EuropeanValentine customs and want to known more about their origin. St.Valentine's Day is the day when boys and girls. friends and neighbours,husbands and wives, sweethearts and lovers exchange greeting of love andaffection. It is the day to share one's loving feelings with friends andfamily, but it is young men and girls who usually wait it with impatience.This day has become traditional for many couples to become engaged. Thatmakes young people acknowledge St. Valentine's as the great friend andpatron of lovers.November, 5 is Guy Fawkes’s Day. On the 5th of November in almost every town and village in Englandone can see fire burning, fireworks, cracking and lighting up the sky,small groups of children pulling round in a home made cart, a figure thatlooks something like a man but consists of an old suit of clothes, stuffedwith straw. The children sing:" Remember, remember the 5th of November; Gunpowder, treason and plot". And they ask passers-by for "a penny for theGuy" But the children with "the Guy" are not likely to know who or what daythey are celebrating. They have done this more or less every 5th ofNovember since 1605. At that time James the First was on the throne. He washated with many people especially the Roman Catholics against whom manysever laws had been passed. аnumber of Catholics chief of whom was RobertCatesby determined to kill the King and his ministers by blowing up thehouse of Parliament with gunpowder. To help them in this they got GuyFawker, a soldier of fortune, who would do the actual work. The day fixedfor attempt was the 5th of November, the day on which the Parliament was toopen. But one of the conspirators had several friends in the parliament andhe didn't want them to die. So he wrote a letter to Lord Monteagle begginghim to make some excuse to be absent from parliament if he valued his life.Lord Monteagle took the letter hurrily to the King. Guards were sent atonce to examine the cellars of the house of Parliament. And there theyfound Guy Fawker about to fire a trail of gunpowder. He was tortured andhanged, Catesby was killed, resisting arrest in his own house. In memory ofthat day bonfires are still lighted, fireworks shoot across the Novembersky and figures of Guy Fawker are burnt in the streets.Christmas. It is certain that Christmas is celebrated all over the world.Perhaps no other holiday has developed a set of customs and symbols. Thisis the day when many people are travelling home to be with their famillieson Christmas Day, 25th December. The Christmas story comes from bible. Anangel appeared to shepherds and told them that a Savior had been born toMary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. Three Wise Men from the Eastfollowed a wondrous star which led them to the baby Jesus to whome theypaid homage and presented gifts of gold, frankicense and myrrh. To peopleall over the world, Christmas is a season of giving and receiving presents.In Scandinavian and other European countries, Father Christmas, or SaintNicholas, comes into house at night and leaves gifts for the children.Saint Nicholas is represented as a fidly man with a red cloak and longwhite beard. He visited house and left giftes, dringing people happiness inthe coldest months of the year. Another character, the Norse God Odin, rodeon a magical flying horse across the ages to make the present day SantaClaus. For most British families, this is the most important festival of theyear, it combines the Christian celebration or the birth of Christ with thetraditional festivities of winter. On the Sunday before Christmas manychurches hold a carol service where special hymns are sung.Sometimes carol-singers can be heard on the streets as they collect money for charity. Mostfamilies decorate their houses with brightly-coloured paper or holly, andthey usually have a Christmas tree in the corner or the front foom,glittering with coloured lights and decorations. The Christmas tree waspopularized by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who introduced oneto the Royal Household in 1840. Since 1947, the country of Norway haspresented Britain annually with a large Christmas tree which stands inTrafalgar Square in commemoration of Anglo-Norwegian cooperation during theSecond World War. There are a lot of traditions connected with Christmas but perhapsthe most important one is the giving of present. Familly members wrap uptheir gifts and leave them bottom of the Christmas tree to be found onChristmas morning. Children leave sock or stocking at the end of their bedson Christmas Eve, 24th of December, hoping that Father Christmas will comedown the chimney during the night and bring them small presents, fruit andnuts. They are usually not disappointe! At some time on Christmas Day thefamilly will sit down to a big turkey dinner followed by Christmas pudding.Christmas dinner consists traditionally of a roast turkey, goose or chickenwith stuffing and roast potatoes. Mince pies and Christmas pudding flamingwith brandy, which might contain coins or lucky charms for children, followthis. (The pudding is usually prepared weeks beforehand and is customarilystirred by each member of the family as a wish is made.) Later in the day,a Christmas cake may be served - a rich baked fruitcake with marzipan,icing and sugar frosting. The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on ChristmasDay. Invented by a London baker in 1846, a cracker is a brightly coloredpaper tube, twisted at both ends, which contains a party hat, riddle andtoy or other trinket. When it is pulled by two people it gives out a crackas its contents are dispersed. 26th December is also a public holiday, Boxing Day, which takes itsname from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box - a gift of money orfood inside a box - to the deliverymen and trades people who calledregularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of tippingthe milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service atChristmas time. This is the time to visit friends and relatives or watchfootball. At midnight on 31th December throughout Great Britain peoplecelebrate the coming of the New Year, by holding hands in a large circleand singing the song: Should auld acquaintance be forget, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forget? And auld lang syne? For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll take a cup of kindness yet, For auld lang syne!..New Year's Eve is a more important festival in Scotland than it is inEngland, and it even has a special name. It is not clear where the word'Hogmanay' comes from, but it is connected with the provision of food anddrink for all visitors to your home on 31th December. It was believed thatthe first person to visit one's house on New Year's Day could bring good orbad luck. Therefore, people tried to arrange for the person or their ownchoice to be standing outside their houses ready to be let in the momentmidnight had come. Usually a dark-complexioned man was chosen, and never awoman, for she would bring bad luck. The first footer was required to carrythree articles: a piece of coal to wish warmth, a piece of bread to wishfood, and a silver coin to wish wealth.Easter. Easter is a Christian spring festival that is usually celebrated inMarch or April. The name for Easter comes from a pagan fertilitycelebration. The word "Easter" is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxongoddess og spring. Spring is a natural time for new life and hope whenanimals have their young and plants begin to grow. Christian Easter mayhave purposely been celebrated in the place of a pagan festival. It istherefore not surprising that relics of doing and beliefs not belonging ththe Christian religious should cling even to this greatest day in theChurch's year. An old-fashioned custom still alive is to get up early andclimb a hill to see the sun rising. There are numerous accounts of thewonderful spectacle of the sun whirling round and round for joy at ourSaviour's Resurrection. So many people go outdoors on Easter morning hopingto see the sun dance. There is also a custom of putting on something new togo to church on Easter morning. People celebrate the holiday according totheir beliefs and their religious denominations. Christians commemorateGood Friday as the day that Christ died and Easter Sunday as the day thatHe was resurrected. Protestant settlers brought the custom of a sunriseservice, a religious gathering at dawn, to the United States. Today on Easter Sunday, children wake up to find that the EasterBunny has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that theydecorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around thehouse. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the childwho first the most eggs wins a prize. Americans celebrate the Easter bunny coming. They set out easterbaskets for their children to anticipate the easter bunnys arrival whileaves candy and other stuff. The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Longago, he was called the "Easter Hare". Hares and rabbits have frequentmultiple births, so they became a symbol of fertility. Christians fast during the forty days before Easter. They choose toeat and drink only enough to feep themselves alive. The day preceding Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day.Shrove Tuesday recalls the day when people went to Church ti confess and beshriven before Lent. But now the day is more generally connected withrelics of the traditional feasting before the fast. Shrove Tuesday isfamous for pancake calebration. There is some competition at WestminsterSchool: the pancakes are tossed over a bar by the cook and struggled for bya small group of selected boys. The boy who manages to get the largestpiece is given a present. This tradition dates from 1445. In the morningthe first church bell on Orley is rung for the competitors to makepancakes. The second ring is a signal for cooking them. The third bell setrung for the copetitors to gather at the market square. Then the Pancakebell is sounded and the ladies set off from the church porch, tossing theirpancakes three times as they run. Each woman must wear an apron and a hator scarf over her head. The winner is given a Prayer Book dy the Vicar. Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is customary tovasit one's mother on that day. Mother ought to be given a present - tea,flowers or a simnel cake. It is possible to buy the cake, they are sold inevery confectionery. But it is preferrable to make it at home. The wayMothering Sunday is celebrated has much in common with the InternationalWomen's Day celebration in Russia. Good Friday is the first Friday before Easter. It is the day when allsorts of taboos on various works are in force. Also it is a good day forshifting beers, for sowing potatoes, peas, beans, parsley, and pruning rosetrees. Good Friday brings the once sacred cakes, the famous Hot Cross buns.These must be spiced and the dough marked with a cross before baking. Eggs, chickens, rabbits and flowers are all symbols of new life.Chocolate and fruit cake covered with marzipan show that fasting is over.Wherever Easter is celebrated, there Easter eggs are usually to be found.In England, just as in Russia, Easter is a time for giving and receiving ofpresents that traditionally take the form of an Easter egg. Easter egg is areal hard-boiled egg dyed in bright colors or decorated with some elaboratepattern. Coloring and decorating eggs for Easter is a very ancient custom.Many people, however, avoid using artificial dyes and prefer to boil eggswith the outer skin of an onion, which makes the eggs shells yellow orbrown. In fact, the color depends on the amount of onion skin added. Inancient times they used many different natural dyes fir the purpose. Thedyes were obtained mainly from leaves, flowers and bark. At present Easter eggs are also made of chocolate, sugar, metals,wood, ceramics and other materials at hand. They may differ in size,ranging from enormous to tiny, no bigger than a robin's egg. Easter Sundayis solemnly celebrated in London. Each year the capital city of Britaingreets the spring with a spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park. Thegreat procession, or parade, begins at 3 p.m. The parade consists of manydecorated floats, entered by various organizations in and outside London.Some of the finest bands in the country take part in the parade. At therear of the parade is usually the very beautiful float richly decoratedwith flowers. It is called the Jersey one because the spring flowers bloomearly on the Island of Jersey. In England, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a gamehas been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ's tombthen He was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to the NewWorld. It consists of rolling coloured, hardboiled egg down a slope untilthey are cracked and broken after whish they are eaten by their owners. Insome districts this is a competitive game, the winner being the playerwhose egg remains longest undamaged, but more usually, the fun consistssimply of the rolling and eating.HarvestCorn Dollies Many countries seem to have had a similar custom to the British oneof making a design from the last sheaf of corn to be harvested. In Britaina corn dolly is created by plaiting the wheat stalks to create a strawfigure. The corn dolly is kept until the Spring. This is because peoplebelieved that the corn spirit lived in the wheat and as the wheat washarvested, the spirit fled to the wheat which remained. By creating thecorn dolly the spirit is kept alive for the next year and the new crop.Sometimes the corn dolly is hung up in the barn, sometimes in thefarmhouse, and sometimes in the church. In Spring the corn dolly would beploughed back into the soil. There are many types of corn dolly.The story of John Barleycorn аstory to the corn dolly is to be found in the folksong JohnBarleycorn. Three men swear that John Barleycorn must die. They take aplough and bury him alive. But the Spring comes and John rises through thesoil. After a while he grows big and strong, even growing a beard, so thethree men cut him down at the knee, tie him on to a cart, beat him, stripthe flesh off his bones and grind him between two stones. But at the end itis John Barleycorn who defeats his opponents, proving the stronger man, byturning into beer.Harvest Festivals In churches all over Britain there are services to thank God for theHarvest. As part of these services local people bring baskets of fruit andvegetables to decorate the church. The produce is then distributed to thepoor.Halloween The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in theCatholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve.November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day ofobservance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in CelticIreland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was calledSamhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year. One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of allthose who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in searchof living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be theironly hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and timewere suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to interminglewith the living. Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on thenight of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes,to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all mannerof ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being asdestructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking forbodies to possess. Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished theirfires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtictribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic firethat was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach. Some accounts tell of how the Celts would burn someone at the stakewho was thought to have already been possessed, as sort of a lesson to thespirits. Other accounts of Celtic history debunk these stories as myth. TheRomans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first centuryAD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Romantraditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona,the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple,which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing forapples on Halloween. The thrust of the practices also changed over time tobecome more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practiceof dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a moreceremonial role. The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irishimmigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, thefavorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses andunhinging fence gates. The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated notwith the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom calledsouling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk fromvillage to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces ofbread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, themore prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives ofthe donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbofor a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expeditea soul's passage to heaven. The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As thetale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard andtrickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image ofa cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made adeal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he wouldpromise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entranceto Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hellbecause he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a singleember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placedinside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally. Butwhen the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far moreplentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-outpumpkin, lit with an ember. So, although some pagan groups, cults, and Satanists may have adoptedHalloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out ofevil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year,and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even manychurches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids.After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it. Fire has always played an important part in Halloween. Fire was veryimportant to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old dayspeople lit bonfires to ward away evil spirits and in some places they usedto jump over the fire to bring good luck. Now we light candles in pumpkinlanterns. Halloween is also a good time to find out the future. Want to findout who you will marry? Here are two ways you might try to find out:- Apple-bobbing - Float a number of apples in a bowl of water, and try tocatch one using only your teeth. When you have caught one, peel it in oneunbroken strip, and throw the strip of peel over your left shoulder. Theletter the peel forms is the initial of your future husband or wife.- Nut-cracking - Place two nuts (such as conkers) on a fire. Give the nutsthe names of two possible lovers and the one that cracks first will be theone.There are several unusual traditions:"Wrong side of the bed" When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out ofbed on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. Peoplebelieve that the way they rose in the morning affected their behaviorthroughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The leftalways having been linked with evil."Blowing out the candles" The custom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to theancient Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting,used to place honey cakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. Thecakes were round like the full moon and lit with tapers. This custom wasnext recorded in the middle ages when German peasants lit tapers onbirthday cakes, the number lit indicating the person's age, plus an extraone to represent the light of life. From earliest days burning tapers hadbeen endowed with mystical significance and it was believed that when blownout they had the power to grant a secret wish and ensure a happy yearahead.




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