The British love and honor their holidays and traditions: they took shape over the centuries and included pagan and Christian rituals, official state dates, musical and sporting events. Today, cultural symbols and traditional rites are borrowed and mixed, but for Britain with its multicultural population, the history of the mutual influence of the colonies and colonialists, attention to their own ancient pre-Christian culture, the diversity of traditions has always been characteristic. For foreign tourists, students and expats, some holidays will be familiar - for example, international Valentine's Day and Halloween - and others, like Queen's Birthday or Guy Fawkes Day, will be an interesting discovery. Not all English holidays are accompanied by weekends, but certainly everyone has their own history, symbolism and rituals.
Valentine's Day is celebrated in many countries of the world - it is a holiday of romantics and lovers, sellers of cards and plush toys. The history of secret weddings in the circle of Jeffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages, in the era of courtly love, is associated with the name of the priest Valentine. In 18th-century England , the tradition of celebrating Valentine's Day became entrenched and took on stable forms: lovers confess their love, give flowers, sweets and Valentine greeting cards, originally handmade. The symbols of Valentine's Day today are the heart, pigeons and the figure of a winged cupid.
Pancake week, or Pancake week Tuesday - Tuesday in the week before Lent, the traditional Christian custom of abstaining from animal food for 40 days before Easter. Fasting ends on Easter Sunday. Today, few Christians fast, but the tradition of baking pancakes on the eve of fasting, using all the eggs, milk and butter remaining in the house, has been preserved, although it has lost its original meaning. Researchers of pagan traditions say that pancakes symbolized the sun, and Pancake Week was a holiday of seeing off winter, when festivals and fist fights were held in the villages. Today, for many people, this is an occasion to get together and eat a traditional dish with various additives.
Mother's Day is a holiday of mothers and grandmothers, a day of gratitude for everything that they did and are doing. Traditionally, children of all ages give gifts and postcards to their mothers, invite them to a cafe or do household chores for them, some mothers even get breakfast in bed. Initially, the custom of honoring mothers on the fourth Sunday of Lent was religious, but by the first third of the 20th century. the holiday became popular among all residents of Britain.
St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday, celebrated annually on March 17 - the day the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, died. According to legend, St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. Today, a clover leaf, the image of the saint and green color have become symbols of the holiday along with the image of leprechaun, the brightest character of Irish folklore. Festivals, parades and fairs dedicated to Irish culture are held throughout the country.
April 1 - April Fool's Day
April Fool's Day reflects the British love for paradoxical jokes, black humor and practical jokes. At this time, it is customary to joke with each other - even newspapers, television and radio programs often contain fake stories. There are lists of the most successful and unusual hoaxes and practical jokes that happened on this day, as some Englishmen very thoroughly prepared for this day. For example, on April 1, 1976, during an early morning interview on BBC Radio 2, British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that a unique astronomical event should occur at 9.47: "Pluto should pass behind Jupiter, planetary alignment will temporarily reduce Earth's gravity." Moore announced to the audience that if they jumped in the air the moment alignment occurs, they would felt the lack of gravity of the earth. At 9.47 in the morning, hundreds of phone calls from listeners began to arrive at the station, claiming that they felt a lack of gravity. One woman said that she and her friends even got up from their chairs and swam around the room. Traditionally, the British make jokes until noon, and if someone gets caught, he will hear the cry of “April Fools!”
Easter is the main Christian holiday, popular in Britain and in all European countries, the USA, Canada and Russia. It is most in demand among religious holidays. This popularity is associated with the original positive meaning - overcoming death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter falls in the spring, coinciding with the revival of nature, and colorful ceremonies have made this holiday popular among children. For Easter people go to church, give Easter eggs, go hunting for chocolate eggs. The tradition of hiding chocolate eggs in the garden or at home is especially loved by children: parents lay out treats around the house, and children in the morning look for sweets. Chocolate Easter Eggs have become a traditional Easter gift in Britain.
St. George's Day
St. George is the patron saint of England: according to biblical legend, he boldly killed the dragon and saved the princess. Over the centuries of the existence of the legend, he became the hero of many works of art, folklore texts around the world. On April 23, people raise the national flag of England - the red cross of St. George on a white background, pin red roses symbolizing England to their clothes, markets open in the central squares of cities. This is not exclusively a national holiday, but it is perceived by many English as one of the most important for the country.
Father's Day, June 21 is a day of honoring, expressing gratitude to dads and grandfathers. Sons and daughters give fathers gifts, postcards, treat them with lunch, take joint walks.
Queen's official birthday
The Queen's real birthday is April 21, but since 1748 it has been a tradition for England to celebrate the birthday of the king or queen in June. This is due to the fact that in June the weather is more favorable for festivities. An important part of the holiday is the military parade, known as Trooping the Color, held in London, and the presence of the royal family.
The summer solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year, June 21st. According to pagan tradition, many people gather at the ancient Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire and watch the sunrise.
Wimbledon Tournament (June-July)
Wimbledon in southwest London is the venue for one of the four annual Grand Slam tournaments around the world. Wimbledon is synonymous with unpredictable weather and, oddly enough, strawberries with cream. Few Britons are interested in tennis, but in the Wimbledon season everything changes.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the world's largest art festival: annually there are more than 40,000 performances of street artists, dancers, musicians, mimes, drama artists. Every year in August he gathers a lot of creative people and spectators, he is best known for his comedic performances.
Notting Hill Carnival
Every August, the last weekend of bank holidays, a carnival takes place on the streets of Notting Hill in West London. This is the largest street festival in Europe, which attracts more than 1 million people to watch a colorful procession, dance to music from salsa to reggae, and taste Caribbean food from street stalls.
London Fashion Week
In September, London hosts the second largest fashion week of the year. In addition to professional events, many bright events are held for citizens and guests of events.
Halloween is held October 31st on the eve of the Western Christian holiday of All Saints Day. This is a time dedicated to the memory of the dead, saints, martyrs. Unlike the United States, this is a relatively calm event: children put on costumes and walk around the neighborhood with the famous phrase Trick or treat, collecting treats. Neighbors very rarely let children play themselves, but prefer to treat them with sweets.
Guy Fawkes Night
Bonfire Night is held on November 5th, associated with the tradition of celebrating Guy Fawkes' failed attempt to blow up the parliament in 1605. Participants make bonfires, admire the fireworks, take part in street processions and festivities.
Memorial Day, November 11
Every year on November 11, the British remember the soldiers who died in the fields of the First World War. Royal British Legion sell paper poppy flowers - a symbol of Memorial Day, sending all the proceeds to charity to raise funds for war veterans and their families. At 11.00 am, a two-minute silence is announced throughout the country.
The British celebrate Christmas December 25th - this is the main family and state holiday. Christmas markets are held in many UK cities and are becoming popular places to visit with friends and family. At this time, it is customary to buy gifts for loved ones, to cook traditional dishes - turkey, pudding, hot alcoholic drinks. Christmas trees, garlands and candles are put in the houses. Children hang socks near the Christmas tree or fireplace, where in the morning parents will lay out gifts.
England celebrates the New Year, having parties with friends and family and waiting for the countdown before midnight. This holiday is given less attention than Christmas, because many choose to spend New Year's Eve out of the house, on street walks, admiring the fireworks.