Festivals and Traditions in the UK
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Some of English festivals are usual for any other country, some of them are celebrated only in the UK.
Every part of the UK has its own Saint and their days are celebrated, of course. At St. David's Day (March, the 1st) the Welsh wear daffodils in their buttonholes. St. Patrick's Day (March, the 17th) is the day of Ireland, the Irish celebrate it loudly and joyous, with parades, much bear, dances. Now this festival is celebrated in many countries. On St. George's Day, (April, the 23th) people in England raise the St. George Cross, wear rot roses as an emblem of England and sing folk songs. St. Andrew’s Day is celebrated in Scotlland for the on November, the 30th.
On February, the 14th the St. Valentine's Day is celebrated. Valentine is the Saint patron for all loving people. Every loving person sends his lover a special heart-postcard with warm words inside.
On Mother's Day (March, the 26th) – children present their mothers flowers and help them around the house.
April Fool's Day (April, the 1st) dates back to the Middle Ages. That days bosses and their servants changed their roles. But now this is a day for funny jokes.
Easter (April or May) is an important church festival. Many British attend the Eastern service which begins in the evening at Saturday and closes only at midnight. After the service people congratulate each other with the end of the Lent and with Christ’s resurrection. Then people come home and eat Easter Simnel cake.
On the second Saturday of June the official Birthday of the ruling Monarch is celebrated in the United Kingdom. A ceremonial parade takes place on this day in Whitehall attended by all the members of the Royal family, invited guests and other spectators. And when the real Birthday comes (now it is the 21st of April) all mass media of the UK congratulate the Queen.
Hallowe'en (October, the 1st) is a cheerful holiday. Children dress as ghosts, monsters and walk along the streets, come to neighbours and demand some sweets. The well-known symbol of this day is a hollow pumpkin with cut eyes and a mouth and burning candles inside.
Guy Fawkes' Day (November, the 5th) is a very unusual festival. Its history isn’t funny. In 1605 some people wanted to murder the Royal family. And they prepared explosives in the basement of the Houses of Parliament. But one of them, Guy Fawkes, gave notice of this action his relative who told about it to the police. The crime was prevented. The 5th of November is the day to remember about this unsuccessful act of terrorism. Every year people arrange big bonfires on the streets, burn down Guy Fawkes’ scarecrows and let off fireworks.
Advent is actually preparing for Christmas (December, 1-24th). This is time to think about the sense of Christianity, about all bad and good deeds of the last year. Traditionally people of Britain make wreathes with 5 candles, four are red and one candle is white. Every Sunday of December – at meals, or during a pray - they light a red candle. And on Christmas’ Eve they light the last candle, the white one.
Christmas (December, 24-25th) is a solemn family holiday. In many houses there are decorated Christmas trees. Children wait for presents from Santa Claus to be put in their striped socks hanging at the fireplace, and before they have prepared meat-cakes for him and carrots for his deers. In the morning there are the wished presents in the socks, of course. And there are more presents under the Christmas tree too! All the family unpacks the beautiful boxes with joy and happiness and then they have Christmas dinner.
It is usual to celebrate Christmas with the family, but New Year is a public festival. People gather at bars and in the streets and have much fun. New Year is traditionally a very merry and noisy festival.
There are other festive traditions in the UK. Most of them are connected with ceremonies of the Royal house. The Opening of the Parliament takes place every year, usually in October or November. The Queen opens every new Parliament’s session. She starts from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in the State Coach. Before she enters the Houses of Parliament the guards must conduct a search around the basement to prevent an explosion. This tradition dates back to 1605 (see above the Guy Fawkes' Day). The Investitures take place in Buckingham Palace 20 times a year. The Queen gives government awards to people who made something very important for the United Kingdom. And the Queen also dubs some people if they deserve a knight's title.