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British Culture , Customs & Traditions

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  • 1. BRITISH CULTURE , CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS
  • 2. HALLOWEEN Halloween is an ancient festival, which has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain (Sah-ween), this was when the Celts (the ancient inhabitants of Great Britain) celebrated their New Year and the day they believed that the souls of those who had died that year progressed to the underworld. It was said to be a night when ghosts, demons and witches roamed the earth and people tried to placate them with offerings of nuts and berries. Nowadays these offerings are more likely to be the Mars Bars and Snickers (formerly Marathons) given out to children trick or treating, but it remains a day when we can acknowledge our fears and celebrate forces we do not understand. Today in the UK it is celebrated on All Hallows Eve, the night of October 31, the last night of October which was originally the eve of Samhain.
  • 3. CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Christmas Eve (December 24th) is traditionally the day for decorating churches and homes. It marks the beginning of the period formally known as Christmas-tide. Night time on Christmas Eve is a very exciting time for young children. It is the time when Father Christmas / Santa comes. Christmas Day . ( December 25th). This is the favourite day for all children. They wake up very early in the morning to find their stockings have been filled by Father Christmas and excitedly unwrap the presents before going down to breakfast. Family presents are opened either late morning or during the afternoon. The family gather together to open the presents found under the Christmas tree. Christmas Dinner . A traditional English Christmas dinner consists of roast turkey and stuffing, roast potatoes and vegetables, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding with brandy butter.
  • 4. BONFIRE NIGHT – GUY FAWKES For 400 years, bonfires have burned on November 5th to mark the failed Gunpowder Plot. The tradition of Guy Fawkes-related bonfires actually began the very same year as the failed coup. The Plot was foiled in the night between the 4th and 5th of November 1605. Already on the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, joyfully lit bonfires in thanksgiving. As years progressed, however, the ritual became more elaborate. Preparations for Bonfire Night celebrations include making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, whOn the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and fireworks displays fill the sky. ich is called "the Guy". Some children even keep up an old tradition of walking in the streets, carrying "the Guy" they have just made, and beg passersby for "a penny for the Guy." The kids use the money to buy fireworks for the evening festivities. On the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and fireworks displays fill the sky.
  • 5. MAYDAY The first day of the month of May is known as May Day. It is the time of year when warmer weather begins and flowers and trees start to blossom. It is said to be a time of love and romance. It is when people celebrate the coming of summer with lots of different customs that are expressions of joy and hope after a long winter. Although summer does not officially begin until June, May Day really marks its beginning. May Day celebrations have their origins in the Roman festival of Flora, goddess of fruit and flowers, which marked the beginning of summer. It was held annually from April 28th to May 3rd. Maypole Dancing A traditional May day dance is known as Maypole Dancing. On May day, people used to cut down young trees and stick them in the ground in the village to mark the arrival of summer.
  • 6. Easter eggs are a very old tradition going to a time before Christianity. Eggs after all are a symbol of spring and new life. Exchanging and eating Easter eggs is a popular custom in many countries. In the UK before they were replaced by chocolate Easter eggs real eggs were used, in most cases, chicken eggs. The eggs were hard-boiled and dyed in various colors and patterns. The traditionally bright colours represented spring and light. EASTER TRADITIONS Easter is one of the great Christian festivals of the year. It is full of customs, folklore and traditional food. In Britain Easter occurs at a different time each year. It is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that the festival can occur on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Not only is Easter the end of the winter it is also the end of Lent, traditionally a time of fasting in the Christian calendar. It is therefore often a time of fun and celebration.