English customs and traditions


Every nation and every country has its own customs and traditions. In Britain traditions play a more important part in the life of people than in other countries. Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. There are a lot of customs you can enjoy. Some of them are very old games or plays. There is e. g. the Marbles Championship, where the British Champion is crowned; he wins a silver cup known among folk dancers is Morris Dancing, where people in beautiful clothes with ribbons and bells on them dance to traditional music with handkerchiefs or big sticks. Of a completely different style is the Boat Race on the river Thames, often on Eastern Sunday.

A boat with a team from Oxford university and one with a team from Cambridge University hold a race. Hours before the race people arrive and sit along the river. The British think that the Grand National is the most exciting horse race in the world. It is at the Aintree Race Course, near Liverpool, every year. Sometimes it takes place on the same day as the Boat Race, sometimes a week later. Amateur riders as well as professional jockeys can take part. It is famous because the jumps are very high and the course is very long. If you don`t like boat racing you won`t have to stay at home on Easter Sunday. You can go Egg-rolling…: go to Avenham Park, with a hard boiled egg – it will look nicer if you have painted it. Take it to the top of the hill in Avenham Park – as you won`t be alone there that day just follow the other people – and roll it down. That`s it!!! If your egg doesn`t break the 1st time you can do it again and… Oh, Avenham Park is near the ton of Preston, in Lancashire. May 1st isn`t a public holiday in Britain, but the 1st Monday after it is.

There are many May Day Celebrations, especially in the country. People erect a maypole then, a tall pole with ribbons hanging from the top. Young children dance round it, holding the ribbons. Teenage girls sometimes enter for the May Queen competition. Halloween is a day on which many children dress up in unusual costumes. The day was originally called All Halloween`s Eve, because it fell on October 31, the eve of all Saint`s Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. "Remember, remember the 5th of November" are the words of an old English song. Why? Because in 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes had planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill king James 1st on that day (the king was to open Parliament then). But Guy Fawkes was caught and hanged. And still the British remember Guy Fawkes` Night or Bonfire Night. From early October you can see children with figures (called `guys`) made of sacks and straw and dressed in old clothes. The children say: "Penny for the Guy"- and with the money they collect in this way they buy fireworks. On November 5th the children put their `Guy` on the bonfire, born it, and light their fireworks…and the British sky is full of light. At the end of the year there are the famous New Year celebrations. In London many people go to Trafalgar Square on New Year`s Eve.

There is singing and dancing and at 12 o`clock on December 31st – or should we say January 1st? – they all sing the famous song "Auld Lang Syne". A popular Scottish event is the Edinburg Festival for music and drama each year. And perhaps even more known is the Edinburg Military Tattoo from Edinburg Castle early September. A truly Welsh event is the Eisteddfod, a national festival of traditional poetry and music, with a competition for the best new poem in Welsh and for the best choir.

Almost every nation has a reputation of some kind. The English are reputed to be cold, reserved, rather haughty people. They are steady, easy-going and fond of sports. There are certain kinds of behavior, manners and customs which are peculiar to England. The English are naturally polite and are never tired of saying "Thank you" and "I am sorry". They are generally disciplined, you never hear loud talk in the street. They don`t rush for seats in buses and trains, but they take their seats in queues at bus stops. English people do not shake hands when meeting one another, they do not show their emotions even in tragic situations. They seem to remain good-tempered and cheerful under difficulties. The English are a nation of stay-at-homes. There is no place like home. The Englishman says "My house is my castle" because he doesn`t wish his doings to be overlooked by his neighbours. It is true that English people prefer small houses, built for one family. The fire is the focus of the English Home. Other nations go out to cafes or cocktail bars. The fireplace is the natural centre of interest in the room. They like to sit round the fire and watch the dancing flames, exchanging the day`s experience. In many houses you will still see fireplaces, sometimes with columns on each side and a shelf above it on which there is often a clock or a mirror or photos. The love of gardens is deep-rooted in the British people. Most men`s conversations are about gardens. It may be a discussion of the best methods of growing cucumbers, a talk about the plot which differs from all the others. The British like growing plants in a window-box outside the kitchen or in the garden near the house. They love flowers very much. Britain is a nation of animal lovers. They have about five million dogs, almost as many cats, 3 million parrots and other cage birds, aquarium fish – and 1 million exotic pets such as reptiles. In Britain they have special dog shops selling food, clothes and other things for dogs. There are dog hair-dressing saloons and dog cemetries. In Britain pets can send Christmas cards to their friends, birthday cards. Owners can buy for their pets jewelled nylon collars, lambswool coat for a dog, lace-trimmed panties, nightgowns, pyjamas, and so on. There are special animal hotels at the airports. The English people believe that they are the only nation on the earth that is really kind to its animals. How do they spend their week-ends. Those who live in cities and towns like to go out of town.

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