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Traditions and holidays of Great Britain

Traditions and holidays of Great Britain

Traditions and holidays of Great Britain.

Every nation and every country has its own traditions and customs.

Traditions make a nation special. Some of them are old-fashioned and many

people remember them, others are part of peopleТs life. Some British

customs and traditions are known all the world.

From Scotland to Cornwall, Britain is full of customs and traditions.

A lot of them have very long histories. Some are funny and some are

strange. But they are all interesting. There is the long menu of

traditional British food. There are many royal occasions. There are songs,

saying and superstitions. They are all part of the British way of life.

You cannot really imagine Britain without all its traditions, this

integral feature of social and private life of the people living on the

British Isles that has always been an important part of their life and


English traditions can classified into several groups: traditions

concerning the EnglishmenТs private life (childТs birth, wedding, marriage,

wedding anniversary); which are connected with families incomes; state

traditions; national holidays, religious holidays, public festival,

traditional ceremonies.

What about royal traditions? There are numerous royal traditions in

Britain, some are ancient, others are modern.

The Queen is the only person in Britain with two birthdays. Her real

birthday is on April 21st, but she has an УofficialФ birthday, too. That is

on the second Saturday in June. And on the QueenТs official birthday, there

is a traditional ceremony called the Trooping of the Colour. It is a big

parade with brass bands and hundreds of soldiers at Horse GuardТs Parade in

London. A УregimentФ of the QueenТs soldiers, the Guards, march in front of

her. At the front of the parade there is the regimentТs flag or УcolourФ.

Thousands of Londoners and visitors watch in Horse GuardsТ Parade. And

millions of people at home watch it on television. This custom is not very

old, but it is for very old people. On his or her one hundredth birthday, a

British person gets a telegram with congratulations from the Queen.

The changing of the Guard happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the

QueenТs home in London. The ceremony always attracts a lot of spectators Ц

Londoners as well as visitors Ц to the British capital.

So soldiers stand on front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers

(the УguardФ) change. One group leaves and another arrives. In summer and

winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11:30 every morning and watch

the Changing of the Guard.

Traditionally the Queen opens Parliament every autumn. But Parliament,

not the Royal Family, controls modern Britain. The Queen travels from

Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in a gold carriage Ц the

Irish State Coach. At the Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a УthroneФ

in the House of Lords. Then she reads the УQueenТs SpeechФ. At the State

Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown. She wears other jewels from

the Crown Jewels, too.

Every year, there is a new Lord Mayor of London. The Mayor is the

cityТs traditional leader. And the second Saturday in November is always

the day for the Lord MayorТs Show. This ceremony is over six hundred years

old. It is also LondonТs biggest parade.

The Lord Mayor drives to the Royal Courts of Justice in a coach. The

coach is two hundred years old. It is red and gold and it has six horses.

As it is also a big parade, people make special costumes and act

stories from LondonТs history.

In Britain as in other countries costumes and uniforms have a long


One is the uniform of the Beefeaters at the tower of London. This came

first from France. Another is the uniform of the Horse Guards at Horse

GuardТs Parade, not far from Buckingham Palace. Thousands of visitors take

photographs of the Horse Guards.

Britannia is a symbol of Britain. And she wears traditional clothes,

too. But she is not a real person.

Lots of ordinary clothes have a long tradition. The famous bowler hat,

for example. A man called Beaulieu made the first one in 1850.

One of the British soldiers, Wellington, gave his name to a pair of

boots. They have a shorter name today Ц УWelliesФ.

There is a very special royal tradition. On the River Thames there are

hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birds belong,

traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on the Thames

are about two months old. Then the QueenТs swan keeper goes, in a boat,

from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and marks the

royal ones. The name of this strange nut interesting custom is Swan Upping.

There are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, that is

days on which people need not go in to work. They are: Christmas Day, Good

Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday,

Boxing Day.

So the most popular holiday in Britain is Christmas. Christmas has

been celebrated from the earliest days of recorded history, and each era

and race has pasted a colourful sheet of new customs and traditions over

the old.

On the Sunday before Christmas many churches hold a carol service

where special hymns are sung. Sometimes carol singers can be heard in the

streets as they collect money for charity. There are a lot of very popular

British Christmas carols. Three famous ones are: УGood King WenceslasФ,

УThe Holly and The IvyФ and УWe Three KingsФ.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world send and

receive Christmas cards. Most of people think that exchanging cards at

Christmas is a very ancient custom but it is not right. In fact it is

barely 100 years old. The idea of exchanging illustrated greeting and

presents is, however, ancient. So the first commercial Christmas card was

produced in Britain in 1843 by Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria and

Albert Museum, London. The handcoloured print was inscribed with the words

ТA Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to youТ. It was horizontally

rectangular in shape, printed on stout cardboard by lithography.

A traditional feature of Christmas in Britain is the Christmas tree.

Queen VictoriaТs husband, Prince Albert, brought the German tradition (he

was German) to Britain. He and the Queen had a Christmas tree at Windsor

Castle in 1841. A few years after, nearly every house in Britain had one.

Traditionally people decorate their trees on Christmas Eve Ц thatТs

December 24th. They take down the decorations twelve days later, on Twelfth

Night (January 5th).

An older tradition is Christmas mistletoe. People put a piece of this

green plant with its white berries over a door. Mistletoe brings good luck,

people say. Also, at Christmas British people kiss their friends and family

under the mistletoe.

Those who live away try to get back home because Christmas is a family

celebration and it is the biggest holiday of the year. As Christmas comes

nearer, everyone is buying presents for relatives and friends. At Christmas

people try to give their children everything they want. And the children

count the weeks, than the days, to Christmas. They are wondering what

presents on December 24th. Father Christmas brings their presents in the

night. Then they open them on the morning of the 25th.

There is another name for Father Christmas in Britain Ц Santa Claus.

That comes from the European name for him Ц Saint Nicholas. In the

traditional story he lives at the North Pole. But now he lives in big shops

in towns and cities all over Britain. Well, thatТs where children see him

in November and December. Then on Christmas Eve he visits every house. He

climbs down the chimney and leaves lots of presents. Some people leave

something for him, too. A glass of wine and some biscuits, for example.

At Christmas everyone decorates their houses with holly, ivy colourful


In Britain the most important meal on December 25th is Christmas

dinner. Nearly all Christmas food is traditional, but a lot of the

traditions are not very old. For example, there were no turkeys in Britain

before 1800. And even in the nineteenth century, goose was the traditional

meat at Christmas. But not now.

A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner is roast turkey with

carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts and gravy. There are sausages and

bacon, too. Then, after the turkey, thereТs Christmas pudding. Some people

make this pudding months before Christmas. A lot of families have their own

Christmas pudding recipes. Some, for example, use a lot of brandy. Others

put in a lot of fruit or add a silver coin for good luck. Real Christmas

puddings always have a piece of holly on the top. Holly bushes and trees

have red berries at Christmas time, and so people use holly to decorate

their houses for Christmas. The holly on the pudding is part of the


Crackers are also usual at Christmas dinner. These came to Britain

from China in the nineteenth century. Two people pull a cracker. Usually

there is a small toy in the middle. Often there is a joke on a piece of

paper, too. Most of the jokes in Christmas crackers are not very good. Here

is on example:

Customer: Waiter, thereТs a frog in my soup.

Waiter: Yes, sir, the flyТs on holidays.

A pantomime is a traditional English entertainment at Christmas. It is

meant for children, but adults enjoy is just as much. It is a very old form

of entertainment, and can be traced back to 16th century Italian comedies.

There have been a lot of changes over the years. Singing and dancing and

all kinds of jokes have been added; but the stories that are told are still

fairy tales, with a hero, a heroine, and a villain.

In every pantomime there are always three main characters. These are

the Уprincipal boyФ, the Уprincipal girlФ, and the УdameФ. Pantomimes are

changing all the time. Every year, someone has a new idea to make them more

exciting or more up-to-date.

December 26th is Boxing Day. Traditionally boys from the shops in each

town asked for money at Christmas. They went from house to house on

December 26th and took boxes made of wood with them. At each house people

gave them money. This was a Christmas present. So the name of December 26th

doesnТt come from the sport of boxing Ц it comes from the boysТ wooden

boxes. Now, Boxing Day is an extra holiday after Christmas Day.

Traditionally Boxing Day Hunts is a day for foxhunting. The huntsmen

and huntswomen ride horses. They use dogs, too. The dogs (fox hounds)

follow the smell of the fox. Then the huntsmen and huntswomen follow the

hounds. Before a Boxing Day hunt, the huntsmen and huntswomen drink not

wine. But the tradition of the December 26th hunt is changing. Now, some

people want to stop Boxing Day Hunts (and other hunts, too). They donТt

like foxhunting. For them itТs not a sport Ц it is cruel.

In England people celebrate the New Year. But it is not as widely or

as enthusiastically observed as Christmas. Some people ignore it completely

and go to bed at the same time as usual on New YearТs Eve. Many others,

however, do celebrate it in one way or another, the type of celebration

varying very much according to the local custom, family tradition and

personal taste.

The most common type of celebration is a New Year party, either a

family party or one arranged by a group of young people. And another

popular way of celebrating the New Year is to go to a New YearТs dance.

The most famous celebration is in London round the statue of Eros in

Piccadilly Circus where crowds gather and sing and welcome the New Year. In

Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd and someone usually falls into

the fountain.

Every Year the people of Norway give the city of London a present.

ItТs a big Christmas tree and it stands in Trafalgar Square. Also in

central London, Oxford Street and Regent Street always have beautiful

decorations at the New Year and Christmas. Thousands of people come to look

at them.

In Britain a lot of people make New Year Resolutions on the evening of

December 31st. For example, УIТll get up early every morning next yearФ, or

УIТll clean, my shoes every dayФ. But there is a problem. Most people

forget their New Year Resolutions on January 2nd.

But New YearТs Eve is a more important festival in Scotland then it is

in England, and it even has a special name. It is not clear where the

СHogmanayТ comes from, but it is connected with the provision of food and

drink for all visitors to your home on 31st December.

There is a Scottish song that is sung all over the world at midnight

on New YearТs Eve. It was written by Robert Burns, the famous Scottish

poet, and you may find some of the traditional words a bit difficult to

understand, but thatТs the way itТs always sung Ц even by English people!

It was believed that the first person to visit oneТs house on New

YearТs Day could bring good or bad luck. Therefore, people tried to arrange

for the person of their own choice to be standing outside their houses

ready to be let in the moment midnight had come.

Usually a dark-complexioned man was chosen, and never a woman, for she

would bring bad luck. The first footer was required to carry three

articles: a piece of coal to wish warmth, a piece of bread to wish food,

and a silver coin to wish wealth. In some parts of northern England this

pleasing custom is still observed. So this interesting tradition called

УFirst FootingФ.

On Bank holiday the townsfolk usually flock into the country and to

the coast. If the weather is fine many families take a picnic Ц lunch or

tea with them and enjoy their meal in the open. Seaside towns near London,

such as Southend, are invaded by thousands of trippers who come in cars and

coaches, trains and bicycles. Great amusement parks like Southend Kursoal

do a roaring trade with their scenic railways, shooting galleries, water-

shoots, Crazy houses and so on. Trippers will wear comic paper hats with

slogans, and they will eat and drink the weirdest mixture of stuff you can

imagine, sea food like cockles, mussels, whelks, fish and chips, candy

floss, tea, fizzy drinks, everything you can imagine.

Bank holiday is also an occasion for big sports meeting at places like

the White City Stadium, mainly all kinds of athletics. There are also horse

race meetings all over the country, and most traditional of all, there are

large fairs with swings, roundabouts, a Punch and Judy show, hoop-la stalls

and every kind of side-show including, in recent, bingo. There is also much

boating activity on the Thames.

Although the Christian religion gave the world Easter as we know it

today, the celebration owes its name and many of its customs and symbols to

a pagan festival called Eostre. Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of

springtime and sunrise, got her name from the world east, where the

sunrises. Every spring northern European peoples celebrated the festival of

Eostre to honour the awakening of new life in nature. Christians related

the rising of the sun to the resurrection of Jesus and their own spiritual


Many modern Easter symbols come from pagan time. The egg, for

instance, was a fertility symbol long before the Christian era. The ancient

Persians, Greeks and Chinese exchanged eggs at their sping festivals. In

Christian times the egg took on a new meaning symbolizing the tomb from

which Christ rose. The ancient custom of dyeing eggs at Easter time is

still very popular.

The Easter bunny also originated in pre-Christian fertility lore. The

rabbit was the most fertile animal our ances tors knew, so they selected it

as a symbol of new life. Today, children enjoy eating candy bunnies and

listening to stories about the Easter bunny, who supposedly brings Easter

eggs in a fancy basket.

Also there is a spectacular parade on Easter. It is a truly

spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park. 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 advisable to find a vantage-point well before that


On October 31st British people celebrate Halloween. It is undoubtedly

the most colourful and exciting holiday of the year. Though it is not a

public holiday, it is very dear to those who celebrate it, especially to

children and teenagers. This day was originally called All HallowТs Eve

because it fell on the eve of All SaintsТ Day. The name was later shortened

to Halloween. According to old beliefs, Halloween is the time, when the

veil between the living and the dead is partially lifted, and witches,

ghosts and other super natural beings are about. Now children celebrate

Halloween in unusual costumes and masks. It is a festival of merrymaking,

superstitions spells, fortunetelling, traditional games and pranks.

Halloween is a time for fun.

Few holidays tell us much of the past as Halloween. Its origins

dateback to a time, when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts.

Many Halloween customs are based on beliefs of the ancient Celts, who lived

more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland, and

northern France.

Every year the Celts celebrated the Druid festival of Samhain, Lord of

the Dead and Prince of Darkness. It fell on October 31, the eve of the

Druid new year. The date marked the end of summer, or the time when the sun

retreated before the powers of darkness and the reign of the Lord of Death

began. The Dun god took part in the holiday and received thanks for the

yearТs harvest.

It was believed that evil spirits sometimes played tricks on October

31. They could also do all kinds of damage to property. Some people tried

to ward of the witches by painting magic signs on their barns. Others tried

to frighten them away by nailing a piece of iron, such as a horseshoe, over

the door.

Many fears and superstitions grew up about this day. An old Scotch

superstition was that witches Ц those who had sold their souls to the devil

Ц left in their beds on Halloween night a stick made by magic to look like

themselves. Then they would fly up the chime attended by a black cat.

In Ireland, and some other parts of Great Britain, it was believed,

that fairies spirited away young wives, whom they returned dazed and

amnesic 366 days later.

When Halloween night fell, people in some places dressed up and tried

to resemble the souls of the dead. They hoped that the ghosts would leave

peacefully before midnight. They carried food to the edge of town or

village and left it for the spirits.

In Wales, they believed that the devil appeared in the shape of a pig,

a horse, or a dog. On that night, every person marked a stone and put it in

a bonfire. If a personТs stone was missing the next morning, he or she

would die within a year.

Much later, when Christianity came to Great Britain and Ireland, the

Church wisely let the people keep their old feast. But it gave it a new

association when in the 9th century a festival in honour of all saints (All

Hallows) was fixed on November 1. In the 11th century November 2 became All

SoulsТ Day to honour the souls of the dead, particularly those who died

during the year.

Christian tradition included the lighting of bonfires and carring

blazing torches all around the fields. In some places masses of flaming

staw were flung into the air. When these ceremonies were over, everyone

returned home to feast on the new crop of apples and nuts, which are the

traditional Halloween foods. On that night, people related their experience

with strange noises and spooky shadows and played traditional games.

Halloween customs today follow many of the ancient traditions, though

their significance has long since disappeared.

A favourite Halloween custom is to make a jack-jТ-lantern. Children

take out the middle of the pumpkin, cut hole holes for the eyes, nose and

mouth in its side and, finally, they put a candle inside the pumpkin to

scare their friends. The candle burning inside makes the orange face

visible from far away on a dark night Ц and the pulp makes a delicious


People in England and Ireland once carved out beets, potatoes, and

turnips to make jack-oТ-lanterns on Halloween. When the Scots and Irish

came to the United States, they brought their customs with them. But they

began to carve faces on pumpkins because they were more plentiful in autumn

than turnips. Nowadays, British carve faces on pumpkins, too.

According to an Irish legend, jack-oТ-lanterns were named for a man

called Jack who was notorious for his drunkenness and being stingy. One

evening at the local pub, the Devil appeared to take his soul. Clever Jack

persuaded the Devil to Уhave one drink together before we goФ. To pay for

his drink the Devil turned himself into a sixpence. Jack immediately put it

into his wallet. The Devil couldnТt escape from it because it had a catch

in the form of a cross. Jack released the Devil only when the latter

promised to leave him in peace for another year. Twelve months later, Jack

played another practical joke on the Devil, letting him down from a tree

only on the promise that he would never purse him again. Finally, JackТs

body wore out. He could not enter heaven because he was a miser. He could

not enter hell either, because he played jokes on the Devil. Jack was in

despair. He begged the Devil for a live coal to light his way out of the

dark. He put it into a turnip and, as the story goes, is still wandering

around the earth with his lantern.

Halloween is something called BeggarsТ Night or Trick or Treat night.

Some people celebrate BeggarsТ Night as Irish children did in the 17th

century. They dress up as ghosts and witches and go into the streets to

beg. And children go from house to house and say: УTrick or treat!Ф,

meaning УGive me a treat or IТll play a trick on youФ. Some groups of

УghostsФ chant BeggarsТ Night rhymes:

Trick or treat,

Smell our feet.

We want something

Good to eat.

In big cities Halloween celebrations often include special decorating

contests. Young people are invited to soap shop-windows, and they get

prizes for the best soap-drawings.

In old times, practical jokes were even more elaborate. It was quite

normal to steal gates, block house doors, and cover chimneys with turf so

that smoke could not escape. Blame for resulting chaos was naturally placed

on the УspiritsФ.

At Halloween parties the guests wear every kind of costume. Some

people dress up like supernatural creatures, other prefers historical or

political figures. You can also meet pirates, princesses, Draculas,

Cinderellas, or even FrankensteinТs monsters at a Halloween festival.

At Halloween parties children play traditional games. Many games date

back to the harvest festivals of very ancient times. One of the most

popular is called bobbing for apples. One child at a time has to get apples

from a tub of water without using hands. But how to do this? By sinking his

or her face into the water and biting the apple!

Another game is pin-the-tail-on-the Цdonkey. One child is blind folded

and spun slowly so that he or she will become dizzy. Then the child must

find a paper donkey haging on the wall and try to pin a tail onto the back.

And no Halloween party is complete without at least one scary story.

It helps too create an air of mystery.

Certain fortunetelling methods began in Europe hundreds of years ago

and became an important part of Halloween. For example, such object as a

coin, a ring, and a thimble were baked into a cake or other food. It was

believed that the person who found the coin in the cake would become

wealthy. The one who found the ring would marry soon, but the person who

got the thimble would never get married.

Unfortunately now most people do not believe in evil spirits. They

know that evil spirits do not break steps, spill garbage or pull down

fences. If property is damaged, they blame naughty boys and girls. Today,

Halloween is still a bad night for the policeЕ

March 1st is a very important day for Welsh people. ItТs St. DavidТs

Day. HeТs the УpatronФ or national saint of Wales. On March 1st, the Welsh

celebrate St. Davids Day and wear daffodils in the buttonholes of their

coats or jackets.

On February 14th itТs Saint ValentineТs Day in Britain. It is not a

national holiday. Banks and offices do not close, but it is a happy little

festival in honour of St. Valentine. On this day, people send Valentine

cards to their husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends. You can also

send a card to a person you do not know. But traditionally you must never

write your name on it. Some British newspapers have got a page for

ValentineТs Day messages on February 14th.

This lovely day is widely celebrated among people of all ages by the

exchanging of УvalentinesФ.

Saint Valentine was a martyr but this feast goes back to pagan times

and the Roman feast of Lupercalia. The names of young unmarried girls were

put into a vase. The young men each picked a name, and discovered the

identity of their brides.

This custom came to Britain when the Romans invaded it. But the church

moved the festival to the nearest Christian saintТs day: this was Saint

ValentineТs Day.

MidsummerТs 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 on of EuropeТs biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones are

ten or twelve metres high. It is 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? Many people think that 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 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 Ц the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important

moment in the year. But for a lot of British people it is just a strange

old custom.

Londoners celebrate carnivals. And one of them is EuropeТs biggest

street carnival. A lot of people in the Notting Hill area of London come

from the West Indies Ц a group of islands in the Caribbean. And for two

days in August, Nutting Hill is the West Indies. There is West Indian food

and music in the streets. There is also a big parade and people dance day

and night.

April 1st is April FoolТs Day in Britain. This is a very old tradition

from the Middle Ages (between the fifth and fifteenth centuries). At that

time the servants were masters for one day of the year. They gave orders to

their masters, and their masters had to obey.

Now April FoolТs Day is different. It is a day for jokes and tricks.

One of the most interesting competitions is the university boat race.

Oxford and Cambridge are BritainТs two oldest universities. In the

nineteenth century, rowing was a popular sport at both of them. In 1829

they agreed to have a race. They raced on the river Thames and the Oxford

boat won. That started a tradition. Now, every Spring, the University Boat

Race goes from Putney to Mortlake on the Thames. That is 6,7 kilometres.

The Cambridge rowers wear light blue shirts and the Oxford rowers wear dark

blue. There are eight men in each boat. There is also a УcoxФ. The cox

controls the boat. Traditionally coxes are men, but Susan Brown became the

first woman cox in 1981. She was the cox for Oxford and they won.

An annual British tradition, which captures the imagination of the

whole nation is the London to Brighton Car Rally in which a fleet of

ancient cars indulges in a lighthearted race from the Capital to the Coast.

When the veteran cars set out on the London Ц Brighton run each

November, they are celebrating one of the great landmarks in the history of

motoring in Britain Ц the abolition of the rule that every Уhorseless

carriageФ had to be preceded along the road by a pedestrian. This extremely

irksome restriction, imposed by the Locomotives on Highways Act, was

withdrawn in 1896, and on November of that year there was a rally of motor-

cars on the London - Brighton highway to celebrate the first day of freedom

Ц Emancipation Day, as it has known by motorists ever since.

Emancipation is still on the first Sunday of the month, but nowadays

there is an important condition of entry Ц every car taking part must be at

least 60 years old.

The Run is not a race. Entrants are limited to a maximum average speed

of 20 miles per hour. The great thing is not speed but quality of

performance, and the dedicated enthusiasts have a conversation all their


The Highland Games Ц this sporting tradition is Scottish. In the

Highlands (the mountains of Scotland) families, or УclansФ, started the

Games hundreds of years ago.

Some of the sports are the Games are international: the high jump and

the long jump, for example. But other sports happen only at the Highland

Games. One is tossing the caber. УTossingФ means throwing, and a УcaberФ is

a long, heavy piece of wood. In tossing the caber you lift the caber (it

can be five or six metres tall). Then you throw it in front of you.

At the Highland Games a lot of men wear kilts. These are traditional

Scottish skirts for men. But they are not all the same. Each clan has a

different УtartanФ. That is the name for the pattern on the kilt. So at the

Highland Games there are traditional sports and traditional instrument Ц

the bagpipes. The bagpipes are very loud. They say Scots soldier played

them before a battle. The noise frightened the soldiers on other side.

The worldТs most famous tennis tournament is Wimbledon. It started at

a small club in south London in the nineteenth century. Now a lot of the

nineteenth century traditions have changed. For example, the women players

donТt have to wear long skirts. And the men players do not have to wear

long trousers. But other traditions have not changed at Wimbledon. The

courts are still grass, and visitors still eat strawberries and cream. The

language of tennis has not changed either.

There are some British traditions and customs concerning their private

life. The British are considered to be the worldТs greatest tea drinkers.

And so tea is BritainТs favourite drink. The English know how to make tea

and what it does for you. In England people say jokingly: СThe test of good

tea is simple. If a spoon stands up in it, then it is strong enough; if the

spoon starts to wobble, it is a feeble makeshiftТ.

Every country has its drinking habits, some of which are general and

obvious, others most peculiar. Most countries also have a national drink.

In England the national is beer, and the pub УpubФ, where people talk, eat,

drink, meet their friends and relax.

The word УpubФ is short for Уpublic houseФ. Pubs sell beer. (British

beer is always warm). An important custom in pubs is Уbuying a roundФ. In a

group, one person buys all the others a drink. This is a УroundФ. Then one

by one all the people buy rounds, too. If they are with friends, British

people sometimes lift their glasses before they drink and say: УCheersФ.

This means УGood luckФ.

In the pubs in south-west England there is another traditional drink-


Pub names often have a long tradition. Some come from the thirteenth

or fourteenth century. Every pub has a name and every pub has a sign above

its door. The sign shows a picture of the pubТs name.

And as you know, the British talk about the weather a lot. They talk

about the weather because it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun, cloud, snow

Ц they can all happen in a British winter Ц or a British summer.

Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to

show that they did not have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in most


Frenchman shake hands every time they meet, and kiss each other on

both cheeks as a ceremonial salute, like the Russians, while Englishmen

shake hands only when they are introduced, or after a long absence.

Victorian England made nearly as many rules about hand shaking as the

Chinese did about bowing. A man could not offer his hand first a lady;

young ladies did not shake menТs hands at all unless they were old friends;

married ladies could offer their hands in a room, but not in public, where

they would bow slightly.

I have chosen the topic British customs traditions because I enjoy

learning the English language and wanted to know more about British ways of

life and traditions. Working on this topic I have to conclusion that

British people are very conservative. They are proud pf their traditions

and carefully keep them up. It was interesting to know that foreigners

coming to England are stuck at once by quite a number of customs and


So I think of Britain as a place a lot of different types of people

who observe their traditions.


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