Christmas and New Year in Great Britain
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Christmas in Great Britain
Christmas is on the 25 –th of December is the greatest holiday in Britain. In Britain people have many interesting Christmas traditions.
People began to celbrate Christmas more than 2000 years ago. They began to decorate the evergreen tree. The Christmas tree tradition is an ancient one stretching back to ancient Teutonic cultures, where the enduring vitality if the winter evergreen was emblematic of the immortality of the soul. The trees were decorated with popcorn canes, gilded nuts, frosted coockies, paper dolls, ribbons, berries and fruits, small candels in gilded eggs cups shone from every limb.
In 1840 when Quine Victoria merried Prince Albert, he was the first who brought the Christmas tree to England, where its popularity quickly spread.
Nowadays the English people place a large shinning star at the top of the Christmas tree and many bright shinning balls(red, blue, yellow, green , silver) from top to the bottom
In the evening of the 24-th of December children hang their Christmas stockings on their beds or put them under the Christmas tree. They wait for Father Christmas (Santa Claus) and other miracles. Santa Claus comes and put presents into their stockings . A Christmas stocking is not a real stocking. It is big and beautifully decorated.
Christmas Eve is on the 24-th of December. On this day everybody is very busy and in a hurry. Offices close at one o’clock, but the shops stay open till late. Because people have to go there and to bye the present.
On the Christmas Eve people like to light candles. If there are children in the family, they often have Christmas crackers. When you pull a cracker it makes a bang and inside there is usually a Christmas Hat, a small toy and a piece of paper with a joke on it..
Before Christmas children make small flags. On these flags they paint British, American, French, German, Finnish and other flags. They hang Christmas flags on the Christmas tree or decorate the room with them.
Before Christmas the English people use holly and mistletoe to decorate not only the rooms but also their houses. Holly is an evergreen plant with sharp pointed leaves and red berries. People put holly on Christmas at their homes during the dark cold winters. They liked to look at holly and think about the spring and the sun. Mistletoe is an evergreen plant with small leaves and small white berries.(It is a parasite growing on other trees. It comes into leaf in wintry weather and symbolises life). On Christmas Eve there is a bunch of mistletoe in every house over the door, under this bunch boys kiss girls. The most interesting in this is that one can demand a kiss and one may not protest in such case.
Every English family sends and receives dosens and dosens of Christmas cards. The bells, candles and angels are on these Christmas cards. Many years ago postmen had bright red coats and they looked like robbins, that is why traditionally there is a robbin on almost every card. The robbin is a Christmas bird. Sometimes there is a bunch of holly on the Christmas card. You can read on the card:”Merry Christmas to you”,”Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, they decorate shelves, tables and mantle-pieсes in the houses with them.
You know already that Santa Clause comes into childrens homes on Christmas Eve. He has a white beard and white and red clothes. He is always merry. They say he comes from the North Pole. He brings presents for the children. Traditionally, people put their Christmas presents in two boxes. A Christmas box is a wrapped in brihgtcoloured paper with ribbons and the day on which people give and receive boxes with presents is called Boxing Day. Boxing Day comes after Christmas Day. It is on the 26-th of December. People do not go to work on that day. They visit friends or go to the theatre. There is a theatre in London where pantomimes are performed. It is called Players Theatre. A pantomime is a traditional performance for children at Christmas. All the children have much fun when they watch fairy tales with princes, beautifull princesses and fairies.The most popular is The Navity Play which tales the tale of Christ Birth. Children like to see it not only at the theatre but they like to performe it themselves. They perform it at schools before Christmas. Every pantomime shown in the theatre has a transformation scene. During this scene miracles happen, for example Cinderella changes into a beautifull princess. Children like these scenes very much. There are the following characters in the pantomime: the principal boy, the principal girl(who is always married to the principal boy in the end), and the dame who is a comic figure, ussually the mother of the principal boy or girl; a man often playes this role. There is also a good fairy and a bad fairy in the pantomime. There are two Brokers men. They are the two clowns who ussually take part in the pantomime. Children like to watch their funny tricks.
Yuletide begins in the midle of December and ends on the 6-th of Jenuary. All the Children like this wonderfull time because it is the time of much fun , presents and Christmas Dinner. Christmas Dinner is the big dinner people eat on Christmas day.They eat a turkey, a traditional Christmas bird for dinner, Christmas pudding and Mince Pies. Christmas pudding was made many-many years ago, now it is the highlihgt of Christmas dinner. Children often put holly on the pudding. Traditionally a coin is placed into the pudding. It brings good luck to a person who finds it. Mince pies are small round pies. Children like these sweet pies very much. Traditionally Christmas dinner ends with Mince pies.
A carol is a Christmas song. People often sing carols on Christmas Eve in the streets or at homes. The oldest known carol was written in 1410. From Italy the carol tradition passed to France and Germany and later to England. Carol-singing at Christmas is a very old tradition. Groups of young and old people sing in the streets. Trafalgar Square in London is the centre for carol singing. Every night during the week before Christmas it’s full of people and everybody joins in the singing. There is also a tradition to burn a piece of wood in the fire place on Christmas Eve. This Pieсe of wood is called Yulle Log.
Christmas is a time for joy, parties, dances and celebrations. At Christmas London like all big cities has a special atmosphere. There is a big Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, sent by the people of Norway to the people of Britain.
New Year in Great Britain
The first day of the calendar year, New Year’s Day, has been celebrated since ancient times. Most Western cultures recognise January 1 as New Year’s Days. New Year’s Day customs have changed over time and vary from culture to culture. In ancient times, the Romans gave sacred tree branches for New Year’s gifts. In later years, gold covered nuts or coins were more common presents. People in many countries have customs to bring good luck in the coming year. Today a lot of people in America usе it in the New Year with parties on the eve of the holiday and parades, football games and family gathering on January1.
In England the New Year is not as widely observed as Christmas. Some people ignore it conmpletely and go to bed at the same time as usual on New Year’s Eve.
The most common type of celebration is a New Year party, either a family party or one arranged by a group of young people. This usually begins at about eight o’clock and goes on until the early hours of the morning. There is usually an informal supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, cakes. There is a lot of drinking, mainly beer, wine, gin and whisky and usually a buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, savouries, cakes and biscuits.
The most famous celebration is in Picadily Circus, where crowds of people gather and sing and welcome the New Year. In Trafalgar Square there is also a big crowd and someone usually falls into the fountain. At midnight the radio set is turned on, so that everyone can hear the chimes of Big Ben. Then the party goes on.
Another popular way of celebratinng the New Year is to go to a New Year dance. Most hotels and dance halls hold a dance on the New Year’s Eve. The hall is decorated, there are several different bands and the atmosphere is very gay.
There are a lot of parties organized by people to celebrate this wonderful holiday. Young people like to spend it together in good companies. There is a lot of fun and jokes on that day. Meeting the New Year’s Eve is held in the family circle in England. Some people in Scotland go outside and meet New Year in Squares singing songs or dancing. There is a very interesting New Year tradition in the North of England and Scotland. It’s an old custom of First-Footing. The first visitor who comes into a house in thr New Year morning is called the First Foot. He brings some symbolic presents: a peace of bread, a coin, a piece of coal,which mean that the family will have good luck, will be happy and reach in the coming year. The First Foot also brings an evergreen brunch as a promice of continuing life. To be a true luck bringer, the First Foot must be healthy, young, good-looking and have black or fair hair. Bread symbolises wealth and coal - warmth.
Senturies ago, it was the custom to put an ivy leaf in water on the Ne Year’s Eve and leave it there untill Twelfth Night (the 6-th of Jenuary). If the leaf remained fresh and green, it foretold a good healthy year; if black spots appeared on it this meant illness and death in the family.
In Scotland most traditional ceremonies are connected with the New Year. There is a New Year’s Eve Fire Festival in each city; man parade with blazing tar barrels, then throw them into a great bonfire. The twelwth night is on the eve of yhe 6-th of Jenuary, this is the 12-th day after Christmas Day. It s the last day of Yuletide. People eat the Twefth Cacke onthe Twelfth night. This is a big cake with a coin baked inside. The person who finds the coin in his peace of cake becomes the king of the Twelfth night.
Children like New Year’s holidays very much. They go from house to house, sing songs and congratulate people. People treat them to candies or give them little money.
Bank holidays are celebrated four times a year. This day is a day-off for everybody, because all banks and all offices are closed. Englishman like to spend New Year holiday in the country. There are also great fairs with a lot of gooods for sail, with fun, jokes, and choosing the Pearl Queen and King. The Pearl King and Queen are people at the fair who have the most unusual costume with a lot of pearl buttons on it. Englishman are aknowleged about the coming of the New year with the strikes of Big Bеn, and the people which don’t live in the capital hear them on the radio. They go out of the houses cogratulate each other and sing the song which is rathe famous all over the world. It is “Auld Land Syne”, the word are by Robert Burns, Scotland’s greatest poet. It is sung everywhere and people cross and joing their hands.
Right after the clock of Big Ban has pointed “12” British people open the back door of their house in order to let the old year out, and open the front door in order to let the new year in. But in England New Year is not a big holiday. It is not so popular as Christmas. Very many people go to bed before twelwe o’ckocl on New Year’s Eve, although some families celebrate this evening at home. If the people live in London they are used to go to the Trafalgar Square. In this square they see a great tree brightly decorated with little lamps.
In the USA New Year’s Day of course is in January. The celebration of this holiday begins the night before, when americans gather to wish each other a happy and prosperous coming year.
New Year’s Day had been the most popular holiday in the colony during the Dutch rule. It was a traditional day of visiting and exchanging of gifts. The English took over the Dutch customs and added a turkey shoot. People remain awake untill after midnight on December 31-st to wath the old year out and the new year in. Many parties are given on this night. The favourite song at parties as in Great Britain “Auld Land Syne”. The people make noise everyway they can.
As for Scotland, the 1-st of Jenuary is a big holiday there, Scotish people celebrate new Year’s Eve in every family. Friends usually come on that day,they have a good diner. After dinner there are apples, other fruits and different sweets to eat. Then all the family and the friends begin to play games and dance. Before twelwe o’clock at night many people in the towns go out into the streets to dance and to sing songs. .