In Great Britain people celebrate festivals which are typical for their country. The British are known to be quite reserved and conservative. They don´t like to show their feelings in public, so they celebrate their festivals in a reserved manner unlike the Americans.
Some of the festivals in Great Britain are state holidays, when people have days off, like Easter or Christmas. There are also others holidays which are celebrated after people come back from work. They are for example Halloween, etc.
New Year´s Day is celebrated on the 1st of January. It is the time when people go to Trafalgar square and sing Auld Lang Syne.
On the 14th of February, people in GB celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. The history of this holiday goes back to the times of the Roman Empire. One story says that St. Valentine was a priest in ancient Rome. He went to prison where he fell in love with the jailer´s daughter, Juliette. He sent her letters and signed them ”From your Valentine“. Now people send Valentines Cards where there are Valentines wishes. The cards are not signed and you are to guess who the card is from.
St. Patrick´s Day is celebrated on the 17th of March. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. It is a national holiday for the Irish people. In Ireland, people take part in parades and on their clothes they wear a green leafy plant called a shamrock.The 1st of April in Great Britain is called April Fool´s Day. It is traditional for people to play tricks or practical jokes on each other on this day.
The evening and night of October 31st is called Halloween. It is observed much more energetically in the USA and Canada than it is in Britain. Children dress up in Halloween costumes of ghosts, wizards, and witches. They go from house to house and play trick or treat. If they don´t get a treat like sweets, etc. they try to play tricks and draw on the windows with toothpaste.
November 5th is Guy Fawkes´ Night in Great Britain. The history of this festival goes back to the 16th century. On November 5th, 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to kill King James I. He and group of his friends put gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament, but Guy Fawkes was found and the King´s men cut off his head. Now people build bonfires in their gardens. On top of each bonfire is a guy, which is a figure of Guy Fawkes.
Mother´s Day is on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is a day when people honor their mothers. Flowers are bought for them very often.
On the second or third Saturday in June is the Queen´s official birthday. It is official, because it is not her real one. Certain public ceremonies are performed on this day.
May Day is on the first Monday in May. The history if this festival goes back to the Middle Ages. In that time, young girls went to the fields and washed their faces with dew [dju:]. They believed this made them very beautiful. Also, young men of each village tried to win prizes with their bows and arrows and people danced around the maypole. In some villages, the custom of dancing around the maypole is still acted out.
The Summer Bank Holiday is on the last Monday in August.
The Spring Bank Holiday is on the last Monday in May. There used to be a holiday on “Whit Monday” celebrating the Christian feast of Pentecost. Because it is seven weeks after Easter, the date always varied.
Christmas is a family holiday in Britain. Unlike continental Europe, the English have no traditional celebration on Christmas Eve. Before the English children go to bed, they hang up Christmas stockings and they believe that Father Christmas will fill them with presents and toys. Christmas Day is on the 25th of December. It is very exciting for many British children. They open their presents at breakfast time. The Day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day. It is the day when people give money or food inside boxes which are distributed to the poor.
The British people are known for keeping their ancient traditions. In our country, traditions are changed over time. Only New Years, Easter, and Christmas are celebrated in each family. Others festivals are neglected among a lot of people.