HOLYDAYS IN ENGLAND

NEW YEAR IN ENGLAND

In England the New Year is not as widely observed as Christmas. Some
people ignore it. Many others do celebrate the New Year. The most common
type of celebration is a New Year party. It begins at 8 pm and goes on
until morning. There is a buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches,
cakes and biscuits. At midnight everyone can hear the chimes of Big Ben
and drink a toast to the New Year. Then the party goes on.

Another way of celebrating is to go to a New Year’s dance. Dance halls
are decorated and there are several bands playing merry music.

The most famous celebration is in London round the statue in Piccadilly
Circus where crowds welcome the New Year. In Trafalgar Square someone
usually falls into the fountain.

Some people watch others celebrating on television. There are no
traditional English New Year festivities, and television producers show
Scottish ones.

Some people send New Year cards and give presents and make «New Year
resolutions».

On New Year’s Day the «New Year Honours List » is published in the
newspapers of those who are to be given knighthoods, etc.

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY

Saint Valentine’s Day is observed on February 14. The first Valentine of
all was a bishop, who before he was put to death by the Romans sent a
note of friendship to his jailer’s blind daughter. Roman soldiers had no
right to get married. Valentine wed them secretly and for this he was
sentenced. February 14 is the date of an old pagan festival when Roman
maidens put love letters into an urn to be drawn out by their boy
friends.

EASTER

In England Easter is a time for the giving and receiving of presents
/Easter eggs/, for the Easter Bonnet Parade and hot cross buns. Nowadays
Easter eggs are made of chocolate but painting egg-shells is still
popular in some country districts. Emblems of Easter are also fluffy
chicks, baby rabbits, daffodils, catkins, and lily. They signify the
Nature’s reawakening.

London greets the spring with Easter Parade on Easter Sunday. The parade
begins at 3 p.m. It consists of many decorated floats bearing the Easter
Princess and her attendants. The finest bands take part in the parade.

LATE SUMMER BANK HOLIDAY

On Bank Holiday the town folk usually flock into the country and to the
coast. They take a picnic-lunch and enjoy their meal in the open.
Seaside towns near London are invaded by thousands of holiday-makers.

Bank holidays is also an occasion for big sports meeting. There are
large fairs, a Punch arid Judy show, and bingo. Many Londoners will
visit Whipsnade Zoo. There is also much boat activity on the Thames and
other rivers.

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS

Christmas Day is observed on December 25. In Britain this day was a
festival long before the conversion to Christianity. On that day people
began the year and it was called «modranecht» — mother’s night, Many
Christmas customs go back to pagan times. In 1644 the English puritans
forbade the keeping of Christmas by Act of Parliament. At the
restoration Charles II revived the feast in 1660.

On Christmas Eve everything is rush. Offices close at one o’clock, but
the shops stay open late. London and big cities are decorated with
coloured lights. In the homes there is a great air of expectation. The
children are decorating the Christmas tree with baubles and coloured
lights. The house is decorated with holly and mistletoe under which the
boys kiss the girls. Christmas cards are hung round the walls.

The housewife is busy in the kitchen. The Christmas bird, usually a
turkey, is being prepared. The pudding is inspected and the cake is
iced.

In villages carol-singers come and sing Christmas carols. They expect a
Christmas box for their musical efforts. The money collected is then
donated to some deserving cause.

BOXING DAY

Boxing Day is observed on December 26. It is a legal holiday in England,
Wales, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Scotland observes Boxing Day on January 12. Christmas boxes /tips/ are
traditionally given to dustmen and a few other public servants.

This is the day when one visits friends. Tradition demands a visit to
the pantomime to watch the story of Cinderella, Dick Whittington or
whatever it may be. There are pantomimes on ice, with a well-known pop
singers or pantomimes with a famous comedian.

In the country there are usually Boxing Day Meets for fox-hunting.

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