Does Britain have a National Day? Scotlands National Day is St. Andrews Day (30 November), which has now largely been overshadowed by Burns Night. St.Andrew, one of Christs twelve apostles, is the patron saint of Scotland. St. Davids Day (1 March) is the national day of Wales. St.David (c ), the patron saint of Wales. The day is commemorated by the wearing of daffodils or leeks by patriotic Welsh people. Both plants are traditionally regarded as the national emblems of Wales. E nglands national day is St.Georges Day (23 April). St.George is the patron saint of England. A story that first appeared in the 6th century tells that St.George rescued a hapless maid by slaying a fearsome fire- breathing dragon! The saints name was shouted as a battle cry by English knights who fought beneath the red-cross banner of St.George during the Hundred Years War ( ). Today the red cross of St.George still flies above every English parish church to mark the saints day. St.Patricks Day (17th March) is an official Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland. The work of St.Patrick (c.389-c.461) was a vital factor in the spread of Christianity in Ireland. Born in Britain, he was carried off by pirates, and spent six years in slavery before escaping and training as a missionary. The day is marked by the wearing of shamrocks (a clover-like plant), the national badge of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
How do the British celebrate traditional and religious holidays? Christmas Day It is spent at home, with the family. Preparations start with the sending of Christmas cards and installation of a decorated Christmas tree in a prominent place in the home. It is a firmly established tradition, the Christmas tree was first popularised by Queen Victorias husband, Prince Albert, who introduced the custom from his native Germany in Houses are decorated with evergreens, a wreath of holly on the front door and Garlands of holly, ivy and fir indoors. Bunches of mistletoe are often hung above doorways – any couple passing underneath must exchange kisses! Traditional food is prepared: sweet mince pies, a rich Christmas cake and the Christmas pudding. Everyone has their own favourite recipe, but theyre all packedfull of spices, nuts, dried fruit and brandy. Presents are bought and placed under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Children hang up their stockings (an old sock or, more ambitiously, pillow cases) around the fireplace or at the foot of the bed for Father Christmas to fill with presents. The English Father Christmas or Santa Claus is first recorded in his traditional red and white outfit in a woodcut of 1653, but the story of Santa arriving in his reindeer-drawn sleigh and descending down the chimney to fill childrens stockings with presents derives from the USA.
Boxing Day Boxing Day (26 December) is so-called because its a time when tradespeople receive a "Christmas Box" - some money in appreciation of the work theyve carried out all year. New Year Merrymaking begins on New Years Eve and builds up to midnight. The stroke of midnight is the cue for much cheering, hooting, whistling, kissing and the drinking of toasts. There is the tradition known as First Footing. At midnight on 31 December, particularly in Scotland and northern England, "first footers" (traditionally a tall, dark, good-looking man) step over the threshold bringing the New Years Luck. Halloween Halloween (31 October) and its associations with witches and ghosts derives from the Celtic Old Years Night - the night of all witches, when spirits were said to walk the earth. Witches and supernatural beings are still remembered all over Britain, when bands of children roam the streets in ghoulish costumes, carrying Halloween lanterns - pumpkins hollowed out with a ghostly face cut into one side, which glows when a candle is placed inside. In recent years the custom of "trick or treating" has gained in popularity. Easter Easter day is named after the Saxon goddess of spring. Easter is now the spring feast of the Christian church. It falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April, according to the church calendar. Traditionally Easter eggs, dyed and decorated or made of chocolate, are given as presents symbolising new life and the coming of spring.
What and when are "bank" holidays? Many public holidays in Britain are known as bank holidays - so called because these are days on which banks are legally closed. Most fall on a Monday. In England and Wales there are six bank holidays: New YearТs Day, Easter Monday, May Day (not necessarily 1 May), Spring and Late Summer Holidays at the end of May and August respectively, and Boxing Day. There are also two common law holidays on Good Friday and Christmas Day. What is Pancake Day? Pancake day or "Shrove Tuesday" (the Tuesday which falls 41 days before Easter) is the eve of the Lenten fast. On this day in earlier times all Christians made their compulsory confessions or "shrifts" from which the name "Shrove Tuesday" derives, and took their last opportunity to eat up all the rich foods prohibited during Lent. Thus all eggs, butter and fat remaining in the house were made into pancakes, hence the festivalТs usual nickname of Pancake Day. Though the strict observance of Lent is now rare, everyone enjoys eating the customary pancakes and some regions celebrate the day with pancake races.
What is Guy Fawkes Night? In 1605 Guy Fawkes, a Roman Catholic, and his fellow conspirators attempted to blow up King James I and the Houses of Parliament, but before Parliament opened on November 5th, the "gunpowder plot", as it has come to be known, was discovered. Guy Fawkes and his colleagues were executed for treason. Since then, the 5th of November has been celebrated in England by the burning on bonfires of stuffed figures of Guy Fawkes, usually accompanied by firework displays. These may be large organised events open to members of the public, or smaller, private gatherings of family and friends held in peoples gardens. "Guy Fawkes Night" is also known as "Bonfire Night" or "Firework Night". In the days leading up to the 5th of November children traditionally take their home-made Guys out onto the streets of their town or village and ask passers-by for "a penny for the Guy". This money is supposedly used as a contribution towards their fireworks.
What are Britains national costumes? England Although England is a country rich in folklore and traditions, it has no definitive "national" costume. The most well-known folk costumes are those of the Morris dancers. The costume consists of white trousers, a white shirt, a pad of bells worn around the calf of the leg, and a hat made of felt or straw, decorated with ribbons and flowers. The bells and ribbons are said to banish harm and bring fertility. Scotland Perhaps the most famous national costume in Britain is the Scottish kilt with its distinctive tartan pattern. The kilt is a length of woollen cloth, pleated except for sections at each end. The kilt is worn around the waist, with the pleats at the back and the ends crossed over at the front and secured with a pin. Each Scottish Clan or family has its own distinctive tartan pattern, made up of different colours, and an official register of tartans is maintained by the Scottish Tartans Society in Perthshire.
Wales The national costume of Wales is based on the peasant costume of the 18th and 19th centuries. Because Wales was isolated geographically from the rest of Britain, many of the individual traits of costume and materials were retained in Welsh dress long after they had died out elsewhere. Folk costume of Wales was worn by the women, consisting of a long gown or skirt, worn with a petticoat and topped with a shawl folded diagonally to form a triangle and draped around the shoulders, with one corner hanging down and two others pinned in front. The most distinctive part of the costume was the tall black "Welsh hat" or "beaver hat", thought to have originated in France at the end of the 18th century. The hats had a tall crown, cylindrical or conical in shape with a wide brim, and were usually trimmed with a band of silk or crêpe. Northern Ireland Early Irish dress, based on Gaelic and Norse costumes, consisted of check trews for men, worn with a fringed cloak or mantle, or a short tunic for both men and women, worn with a fringed cloak. This style of dressing was prohibited in the 16th century. In particular, the wearing of the fringed cloak was forbidden; as was the wearing of trews or any saffron-coloured garment (saffron yellow was an important feature of Irish costume). Although a strong tradition of wearing folk costume does not survive in Northern Ireland today, folk music and folk dancing are very important.