Otázka: Tradition, Holidays and Feastdays
The British are said to be conservative. They still use their traditional system of weights and measures, they drive on the left and they still wear tradition school uniforms at some schools. And it is important to know, that Britain is the oldest democracy in the world and that they consider the monarchy an inseparable part of their government.
The British are renowned for their politeness and goo table manners – they like to converse at table. They do not shake hands and kiss hello so often as we do and they are famous for their dry humor.
They are proud of their isles which have given them a feeling of security.
The British are fond of pets and children. Their mania for tea at any time of the day is world famous. Their country is notorious for rainy weather. People in Britain are allowed to walk on the grass and we can often see them picnicking on it.
The British are much advanced in science and technology. Many sports and games originated or were perfected in Britain.
New Year’s Day – January 1st
St. Valentine’s Day – February 14th
It’s lovers’ day. On this day young people send Valentine cards to a person of opposite sex, usually anonymously, and exchange gifts.
Originally this day commemorated the Roman priest who gave aid and comfort to the persecuted Christian before he was put to death.
St. David’s Day – March 1st
The patron saint of Wales
St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th
The patron saint of Ireland. It’s public holiday in Ireland
All Fools’ Day – April 1st
It’s named after the custom of playing practical jokes and tricks on people and then we can shout “April Fool!”
Easter – April
Spring feast of the Christian Church. Good Friday commemorates Jesus crucifixion while Easter Sunday commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus. It’s connected with pre-Christian tradition, originally it was festival celebrating the spring equinox.
It’s celebrated on Easter Sunday in Britain.
St. George’s Day – April 23rd
The patron saint of England
May Day – May 1st
Mother’s Day – 2nd Sunday in May
Spring Bank Holiday – Last Monday in May
Bank Holidays in England are also public holidays when shops and banks are closed
The Queen’s Official Birthday – June [Saturday after June 9th]
There are various ceremonies associated with it, such as the ceremony of Trooping the Colour at the Horse Guards Parade in London.
Father’s Day – 3rd Saturday in June
Summer Bank Holiday – last Monday in August
Halloween – October 31st
Among the old Celts it was the last day of the year and the beginning of winter when witches and ghost were supposed to celebrate their rites. When the pagans were Christianized, the holiday was converted to the Eve of All Saints’ Day.
In Britain it’s celebrated only in the North of England and in Scotland, but it’s generally celebrated in the USA and Canada. Children celebrate it by dressing up in Halloween costumes. They go to their friends’ and neighbors’ houses and they knock at the door or ring the bell. When people come to the door, children say “Trick or treat.” The people treat the children with sweets, fruit or money.
A favorite custom is to make a jack-o’-lantern from a pumpkin.
Guy Fawkes Day – November 5th
The anniversary of the Gunpowder plot in 1605 is celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and the burning of guys. The plot was discovered and the conspirator executed.
Remembrance Day – November 11th
There is a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, in which two minutes silence honors those killed in the two world Wars.
St. Andrew’s Day – November 30th
The patron saint of Scotland
- Christmas Eve – December 24th
The English have no traditional celebration on this day. It’s only day of the year reserved for the “office party”. A lot of people spend this day shopping. Children hang up Christmas stocking at the end of their bed and believe that Santa Claus fills up the stockings with presents.
- Christmas Day – December 25th
In the morning children enjoy unwrapping present and at midday Christmas dinner is great occasion. It consist of roast turkey with chestnut stuffing and roast potatoes and Christmas pudding.
There is also an old custom of stirring into the pudding the coin, a thimble and a ring to bring wealth, work and a weeding to those who find it. There is plenty of carols on the radio and TV and various professional choirs sing carols in old people’s homes, hospitals and outside churches.
On Christmas Day the monarch address the nation and the Commonwealth on radio and television.
- Boxing Day – December 26th
Lots of people go visiting on Boxing day or go to parties in the evening.
- New Year’s Eve – December 1st
On this day the English people stay up till midnight to see old year out and drink a toast to the New Year.
Hogmanay is Scottish name for New Year’s Eve which is more celebrated that Christmas. Before midnight many townsfolk gather in the square, they sing and dance in Scottish style. At midnight there is a great cheer, people cross arms, link hands for traditional song Auld Lang Syne.
The Americans are far from having the reputation of being conservative. The saying “Time is money” and stories about self-made men show that they value progress, success and prosperity. The Americans are not so reserved as many British people are.
The Americans have a fondness for grandiosity. Skyscrapers in many American cities and the way they competed in height may be a good example.
There are no national holidays in USA since each state has the right to decide about its own holidays.
Martin Luther King’s Day – 3rd Monday in January, federal public holiday
Lincoln’s Birthday – February 12th
Washington’s Birthday – February 22nd
Commemorated by public ceremonies.
Presidents’ Day – 3rd Monday in February, federal public holiday
On this day all presidents of the USA are honored.
Easter – not a national holiday
Most Americans spend Easter Sunday with the family. Many people give children dyed eggs and sweets. In some families they organize an egg hunt – children look for eggs which adults hid somewhere in the house, yard or garden.
Mother’s Day – 2nd Sunday in May
Memorial Day– 4th Monday in May, federal public holiday
It honours Americans killed in all the past wars and most recently all the dead. It also marks the beginning of the summer season.
Father’s Day – 3rd Sunday in June
Independence Day – July 4th, federal public holiday
Each city has its own ceremony and parades. This day commemorates the signing of Declaration of Independence in 1776, thus establishing the USA.
Labor Day – 1st Monday in September, federal public holiday
Honours all the working people. It’s celebrated by the day of rest. It marks the end of the summer season.
Columbus Day – October 12th, federal public holiday
It’s the anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Halloween – October 31st
Veterans Day – November 11th, federal public holiday
Thanksgiving – 4th Thursday in November, federal public holiday
National holiday in the USA, first celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrim settlers of Plymouth Colony, on their first harvest. Now it’s an occasion for the whole family to be together. It’s celebrated by traditional dinner whose main course is roast turkey.
Christmas is not a national holiday in the USA, but since most Americans are Christian, almost all shops are closed and people have a rest day on Christmas day and New Year’s Day. Christmas in the USA is not a family holiday, families invite friends to join them at Christmas dinner and often give parties t Christmas-time.
Beside the Christmas tree the Americans also decorate their houses with garlands and wreaths and electric colored lights inside and outside the house or on the trees in their gardens.