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ENGLISH CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The British are said to be reserved in manners, dress and speech.

Their insularity, conservaticism and sticking to traditions are often pointed too. They are famous for their politeness, self - discipline and their specific sense of humour. May be many British are such in their nature but not at all. There are big differences in manners between individuals even within one nation. It is similar with customs and traditions. Many traditional British customs have changed as the way of life has changed.

Very popular always was Valentine's day on l4th February. It is a great day for all lovers. Originaly this day commemorated the Roman priest who gave aid and comfort to the persecuted Christians before he was put to death. On this day young people send Valentine's cards to a person of opposite sex, usually anymiously, and exchange gifts. Cards can have serious and loving text e.g. Roses are red, violets are blue, you will be mine cose I love you, or they can also have funny character e.g. My love for you is as big as elephant and on the next side is drown fat girl with text below but then, so are you.

In march there are two interesting days - St. David's day (the patron of Wales) and St. Patrick's day ( the patron of Ireland so people are often dressed in shamrocks). The day of the patron of England, St.George, is celebrated in April. The next tradition also on April is well know in our country too - it is All Fool's day. It is called after the simple shouting "Fool". You can shout it when you deceive someone else by funny joke or trick. But this tradition is not the last in this month. The greatest one only comes - it is Easter that is spring feast of Christian church. Good friday commemorates Jesus' crucufixion while Easter Sunday commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus. Dyed and decorated easter eggs - symbol of a new life, are given as presents. Than comes May Day when political parties of the left hold processions and public meetings. But for British May Day also means the traditional spring festival. In the days people went out into the woods before dawn to cellect flowers and green branches.The custom only survives in a few places but some maypoles are still to be seen and the election of a May Queen still takes place in parts of England. This day is connected with Morris dancing. It is performated specialy on religious holidays, weddings and events just like May Day. It has the real roots in Africa and Asia and in the l7th century the main performance was a kind of pageant or play. E.g. Elizabethan pegeant performed by Morris dancers was based on the Robin Hood legend. This involved a Lord of Misrule - choosen specialy for this occasion - being crowned and then choosing his own personal bodyguard. Other performers included drummers, pipers, dragons and hobby-horses. Teams of Morris dancers usually have a specially dressed Squire or Bagman in charge. Ordinary dancers normally wear white shirts and black trousers. Short round hats or taller topper are decorated with flowers and coloured ribbons. These all have special significance. Red poppies are sign of health, white poppies of plenty, blue cornflowers represent blessedness or holiness, white hankerchiefs waved from the hand symbolise the gathering and scattering of magical energy over earth and crops. Morris dancers usually perform the very old ritualistic ceremonies associated with fertility and the re-awaking of the earth after winter.

There is also Mother's day in May that honours all mothers. Fathers are

also no forgotten - the day dedicated to them is the 3rd Sunday in June. And only a few days before it is celebrating of Qeen's Official Birthday in the middle of June. There are various ceremonies associated with it as ceremony of the Trooping the colour and the Horse Guards Parade. The Queen, her husband, and the Prince of Wales, all on horseback, are present. Trooping the Colour is a military pageant that dates back to times before the Regular British Army came into existence. In these days soldiers were billeted in private houses, not in barracks. Every day the officers and men that were to be on the guard would assemble around the regimental colours or flag. The next step was to parade the flag and slowly the elaborate military display which makes up the modern Trooping of the Colour came into being. At the end of this ceremony, the pageant returns from Horse Guards' Parade back to Buckingham Palace. The route is line with many thousands of tourists, who usually enjoy this fine display of British pageantry.

Halloween is the next well known day. Among the old Celts it was the last day of the year and the beggining of winter when witches and ghosts were supposed to celebrate their rites. A favourite custom is to make a jack-o-lantern from a pumpkin that is scraped out and in which eyes, a nose and a mounth are cut and then a candle is light inside. Children celebrate it by dressing up in Halloween customs with masks over their faces. Carrying bascets or bags they go to their friends'and neighbours' houses adn they knock at the door or ring the bell. When people come to the door, children say " Trick or treat" which means "Give us a treat or we will play a trick on you." Then people treat the children with sweets, fruit or money. Rememberance day commemorates the coutry's war death, on that day in l9l8 World War I came to an end.Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November children celebrate with fireworks. On that day, in l605, the British parliament was saved from destruction when a plot to blow up the building was discovered in time. Christmas are well-known, so only in short. There are some differences between Slovak and English one. In our country ,the main emphasis is on Christmas Eve, and the festive meal is served in the evening. In England is Christmas more of a social event, the important day is Christmas day and the dinner is usually a midday meal. The meal in Britain is roast turkey and Christmas pudding, rather than fried carp, potato salad and various pastries. Slovak children hang up their stocking on 5 December while in Britain they do so on Christmas Eve. In the morning of the next day children enjoy unwrapping presents. New Year's Eve is a big festival in Scotland, where it is called Hogmanay. It begins with the arrival of the guests who have been invated to join the family to see in the New Year. They sit down to dinner which begins with haggins - Scotland's national food that consists of minced hearth, lungs and liver of a sheep, boiled in a sheep's stomach with oatmeal. Before midnight many townsfolk gather in the square, they sing and dance in the Scottish style. At midnight there is a great cheer, people cross arms, links hands for a traditional song "AULD LANG SYNE" Scottish people also considere lucky if a dark-haired man is the first to set foot in the house after midnight, bringing a coin,a piece of bread, and a coal as a symbol of plenty in the comming year.

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