Реферат: Customs and Traditions

Customsand Traditions

Somany countries so many customs, an English proverb says. The combination of thewords tradition & custom means a usual manner of doing smth, a believe ofprincipal, of conduct passed on from generation to generation. Englishtraditions can be subdivided into the traditions dealing with private life ofthe English national & religious holidays, public celebrations, traditionalceremonies & traditional sporting events. A great number of customs &traditions date back to the early days of GB & we can justly say that theyare the reflection of the country«s history & the peoples phyhology.To know the customs & traditions means to understand the people, their art& culture better. In the matter of holidays the British are less well offthan other Europeans. They have such holidays celebrated: New Years Day, GoodFriday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank Holiday,Christmas Day & Boxing Day.

TheBritish have many traditions, manners & customs of which they can be proud.England has preserved it's old ceremonies & traditions to a greater extendthan any other country in the world. Most of this traditions have been kept upwithout interruption since the thirteenth century. Foreigners coming to Englandare impressed by a great number of ceremonies which seem to be incompatiblewith the modern traffic & technical conditions of a highly developedcountry.

Some British customs and traditions are famousall over the world. Bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather, forexample. But what about the others? Who was Guy Fawkes? Why does the Queen havetwo birthdays? And what is the word „pub“ short for?

From Scotland to Cornwall,Britain is full of customs and traditions. A lot of them have very longhistories. Some are funny and some are strange. But they're all interesting.There are all the traditions of British sport and music. There's the long menuof traditional British food. There are many royal occasions.There are songs, sayings and superstitions. They are all part of the Britishway of life.

A yearin BritainJANUARYUp-HeIIy-Aa

The Shetlands are islands near Scotland. In theninth centurv, men from Norway came to the Shetlands. These were the Vikings.They came to Britain in ships and carried away animals, gold, and sometimeswomen and children, too.

Now, 1 ,OOO yearslater, people in the Shetlands remember the Vikings with a festival. Fhey callthe festival „Up-Helly-Aa“.

Every winter the peopleof Lerwick, a town in the Shetlands, make a model of a ship. It's a Viking»long-ship", with the head of a dragon at the front. Then, onUp-Helly-Aa night in January, the Shetlanders dress in Viking clothes. Theycarry the ship through the town to the sea. There they burn it. They do thisbecause the Vikings put their dead men in ships and burned them. But therearen't any men in the modern ships. Now the festival is a partyfor the people of the Shetland Islands.

FEBRUARYSt Valentine's Day

St Valentine is the saint of people in love, andSt Valentine's Day is February 14th. On that day, people send Valentine cardsand presents to their husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. You can alsosend a card to a person you don't know. But traditionally you must never writeyour name on it. Some British newspapers have a page for Valentine's Daymessages on Februarv 14th.

MARCHSt David's Day

March 1st is a very important day for Welshpeople. It's St David's Day. He's the «patron» or national saint ofWales.

On March 1st, the Welsh celebrate St David's Dayand wear daffodils in the buttonholes of their coats or jackets.


April Fool's Day

April 1st is April Fool's Day in Britain. This isa very old tr~dition from the Middle Ages (between the fifth and fifteenthcenturies). At that time the servants were masters for one day of the year.They gave orders to their masters, and their masters had to obey.

Now April Fool's Day is different. It's a day forjokes and tricks.

MAYMay Day

  May 1st was an important day in the Middle Ages. In the very earlymorning, young girls went to the fields and washed their faces with dew. Theybelieved this made them very beautiful for a year affer that. Also on May Daythe young men of each village tried to win prizes with their bows and arrows,and people danced round the maypole.

  Many English-villages still have a maypole, and on May 1st, the villagersdance round it. You can see one in the picture below.

JUNEMidsummer's Day

Midsummer's Day, June 24th, is the longest day ofthe year. On that day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, inWiltshire, England. Stonehenge is one of Europe's biggest stone circles. A lotof the stones are ten or twelve metres high. It's also very old. The earliestpart of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old.

But what was Stonehenge? A holy place? A market?Or was it a kind of calendar? We think the Druids used it for a calendar. TheDruids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and thestones at Stonehenge to know the start of months and seasons. There are Druidsin Britain today, too. And every June 24th a lot of them go to Stonehenge. Onthat morning the sun shines on one famous stone — the Heel stone. For theDruids this is a very important moment in the year. But for a lot of Britishpeople it's just a strange old custom.




October 31st is Hallowe'en, and you can expect tomeet witches and ghosts that night. Hallowe'en is an old word for «HallowsEvening», the night before «All Hallows» or «All Saints'Day»

On thai one night of the year, ghosts and witchesare free. Well, that's the traditional story. A long timeago people were afraid and stayed at home on Hallowe'en. But now in Britain itsa time for fun. There are always a lot of parties on October 31st. At theseparties people wear masks and they dress as ghosts and witches, or as Draculaor Frankenstein's monster. And some people make special Hallowe'en lamps Irom alarge fruit   the pumpkin.

First they take out the middle of the pumpkin.Ihen they cut holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally they put a candleinside the pumpkin.

NOVEMBERGuyFawkes' Day

November 5th is Guy Faw kes Day in Britain. Allover the country people build wood fires or “bonfires”, in their gardens. On top of each bonfire is a guy. That's a figure ofGuy Fawkes. People make guys with straw, old clothes and newspapers. But beforeNovember 5th, children use their guys to make money They stand in the streetand shout «Penny for the guy». Then they spend the money onfireworks. But how did this tradition start? Who was Guy Fawkes and why do theBritish remember him on November 5th?

On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to killKing James I. He and a group of friends put a bomb under the Houses ofParliament in London. But the King's men found the bomb  and they found GuyFawkes, too. They took him to the Tower of London and there the King's men cutoff his head.


Christmas andthe New Year

There are lots of Christmas and New Yeartraditions in Britain.

For example...

London's Ghristmas decorations Every year the people 9f Norway give the city of London a present… It's a bigChristmas tree and it stands in Trafalgar Square. Also in central London,Oxford Street and Regent Street always have beautiful decorations at Christmas.Thousands of people come to look at them.

Cards, trees and mistletoe In 1846 the first Christmas cards began inBritain. That was five years after the first Christmas tree. Queen

Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought thisGerman tradition (he was German) to Britain. He and the Queen had a Christmastree at Windsor Castle in 1841. A few years after, nearly every house inBritain had one.

Traditionally people decorate their trees onChristmas Eve — that's December 24th. They take down the decorations twelvedays later, on Twelfth Night (January 5th).

An older tradition is Christmasmistletoe. People put a piece of thisgreen plant with its white berries over a door. Mistletoe brings good luck,people say. Also, at Christmas British people kiss their friends and familyunder the mistletoe.


Before Christmas, groups of singers go from houseto house. They collect money and sing traditional Christmas songs or carols. Thereare a lot of very popular British Christmas carols. Three fanous ones are:

«Good King Wenceslas», «The Hollyand The Ivy» and «We Three Kings».

Christmas Eve

British children don't open their presents onDecember 24th. Father Christmas brings their presents in the night. Then theyopen them on the morning of the 25th.

There's another name for Father Christmas inBritain — Santa Claus. That comes from the European namefor him — Saint Nicholas. In the traditional story he livesat the North Pole. But now he lives in big shops in towns andcities all over Britain. Well, that's where children see him inNovember and

December. Then on Christmas Eve he visits everyhouse. He climbs down the chimney and leaves lots ofpresents. Some people leave something for him, too. A glass of wine andsome biscuits, for example.

Christmas Day

In Britain the most important meal on December25th is

Christmas dinner. Nearly all Christmas food istraditional, but a lot of the traditions are not very old. For example, therewere no turkeys in Britain before 1800. And even in the nineteenth century,goose was the traditional meat at Christmas. But not now.

A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner isroast turkey with carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts and gravy. Thereare sausages and bacon too. Then, after the turkey, there's Christmas pudding.You can read about that in the chapter on food.

Crackers are also usual at Christmas dinner.These came to Britain from China in the nineteenth century. Two people pull acracker. Usually there's a small toy in the middle. Often there's a joke on apiece of paper, too. Most of the jokes in Christmas crackers are not very good.Here's an example:

CUSTOMER: Waiter, there's a frog in my soup.

WAITER:Yes, sir, the fly's on holiday.


December 26th is Boxing Day. Traditionally boysfrom the shops in each town asked for money at Christmas. They went from houseto house on December 26th and took boxes made of wood with them. At each housepeople gave them money. This was a Christmas present. So the name of December26th doesn't come from the sport of boxing — it comes from the boys' woodenboxes. Now, Boxing Day is an extra holiday after Christmas Day.


 In Scotland the name for New Year's Eve is Hogmanay. Affer midnightpeople visit their friends. And they take a present — a piece of coal. Why?Because traditionally the first visitor of the year must carry coal into thehouse. This is «first footing». It brings good luck. It also helps tomake a fire in the middle of winter.

New Year Resolutions What are your worst faults? Do you want to changethem? In Britain a lot of people make New Year Resolutionson the evening of December 31st. For example, «I'll get up early everymorning next ~ or ''I'll clean my shoes every day.'' But there's a problem.Most people forget their New Year Resolutions on January 2nd.


The Queen is the only person in Britain with twobirthdays. Her real birthday is on April 21st, but she has an»official" birthday, too. That's on the second Saturday in June. Andon the Queen's official birthday, there is a traditional ceremony called theTrooping of the Colour. It's a big parade with brass bands and hundreds ofsoldiers at Horse Guards' Parade in London. A «regiment» of theQueen's soldiers, the Guards, march in front of her. At the front of the paradeis the regiment's flag or «colour».

The Guards are trooping the colour. Thousands ofLondoners and visitors watch in Horse Guards' Parade. And millions of people athome watch it on television.


This happens every day at Buckingham Palace, theQueen's home in London. Soldiers stand in front of the palace. Each morningthese soldiers (the «guard») change. One group leaves and anotherarrives. In summer and winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11.30 everymorning and watch the Changing of the Guard.


Maun4y Thursday is the day before Good Friday, atEaster. On that day the Queen gives Maundy money to a group of old people. Thistradition is over 1,000 years old. At one time the king or queen washed thefeet of poor, old pedple on Maundy Thursday. That stopped in 1754.


Here's a very different royal tradition. On theRiver Thames there are hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birdsbelong, traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on theThames are about two months old. Then the Queen's swan keeper goes, in a boat,from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and marks theroyal ones. The name of this strange but interesting custom is Swan Upping.          


This custom is not very old, but it's for veryold people. On his or her one hundredth birthday, a British person gets atelegram from the Queen.




Twice a year at Buckingham Palace, the Queengives titles or

«honours», once in January and once inJune. There are a lot of different honours. Here are a few:

C.B.E. — Companion of the British Empire

O.B.E. — Order of the British Empire

M.B.E. — Member of the British Empire

(These honours began in the nineteenth century.Then Britain

had an empire.)

Knighthood- a knight has «Sir» before his name. A new knight kneels infront of the Queen. She touches first his right shoulder, then his leftshoulder with a sword. Then she says «Arise, Sir… [his firstname]», and the knight stands.

Peerage — a pee~ is a lord. Peers sit in the House of Lords. That's one part ofthe Houses of Parliament. The other part is the House of Commons. Peers callthe House of Commons «another place».

Dame/Baroness — these are two of the highest honours for a woman.


Parliament, not the Royal Family, controls modern Britain. But traditionally the Queen opens Parliament everyautumn. She travels from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliamentin a gold carriage — the Irish State Coach. At the Housesof Parliament the Queen sits on a “throne” in the Houseof Lords. Then she reads the “Queen's Speech”. At State Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown. She wears other jewels from the Crown Jewels, too.



The Order of the Garter ceremony has a longhistory. King Edward III started theOrder in the fourteenth centur', that time, the people in the Order were thetwent', four bravest knights inEngland. Now the knights of thc Order aren't allsoldiers. They're members of the House of Lords, church leaders or politicians.There are some foreign knights, too. For example, the King of Norway, the GrandDuke of Luxembourg and the Emperor of Japan. They're called Extra Knights ofthe Garter. The Queen is the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. But she isn't the only royal person in the Order. Prince Charles and Prince Philip are Royal Knights, andthe Queen Mother is a Lady of the Garter.

In June the Order his a traditional ceremony atWindsor Castle. This is the Queen's favourite castle. It's also the home of theOrder ~ the Garter. All the knights walk from the castle to St George's Chapel.the royal church at Windsor. They wear the traditional Clt)thCS or«robes» of the Order. These robes are verv heavv. In tact King EdwardVIII once called them 'ridiculous". But they're an important part of oneot Britain's oldest traditions.



Now here's a modern royal custom. On ChristmasDay at 3.00 in the afternoon the Queen makes a speech on radio and TV. It's tenminutes long. In it she talks to the people of the United Kingdom and theCommonwealth. The Commonwealth is a large group of countries. In the past theywere all in the British Empire. Australia, India, Canada and New Zealand areamong the 49 members.

The B.B.C. (the British BroadcastingCorporation) sends the Queen's speech to every Commonwealth countrv. In herspeech the Queen talks about the past year. Traditionallv in speeches, kings orqueens say “we” not “I”Queen Elizabeth II doesn't do this. She says “My husband and I” or just 'I''.

The Queen doesn't make her speech on Christrnas Day. She films it a few weeks before. Then she spends Christmas with her familY atWindsor. Does she watch the speech on TV? Nobody knows.

Songs, sayings and superstitions

There are thousands of traditional songs andsayings in English. Many of them tell stones about British historv. Forexample, here's one about the Great Plague.

Ring-a-ring-a roses

A pocket full ofposies

A-tishoo, a-tishoo

We all fall down.

The Great Plague was an illness and it killedmillions of people in Europe in the seventeenth century. One of the signs of the illness was j circle of red marks. Thev looked likeroses, and that explains the first line of the song. In the second line,«posies» are small bunches of flowers. People carried flowers becauseof the smell of the Plague. «A-tishoo» is the sound of a sneeze. Thatwas another sign of the Plague. Then, after a few days, people «fell down»or died.

How many of these traditional songs do you know?

Happy Birthday To You — You sing this song at birthday parties. People all over the world singit.

Auld Lang Syne — This is asong from Scotland. Most people only sing it once a year, on New Year's Eve.«Auld Lang Syne» means «a long time ago». Thesong says, «we must never forget old friends».

God Save The Queen — Thisis Britain's national song or «anthem.»


Do vou believe in good luck and bad luck? Mostpeople in the world have some superstitions. These are a few Britishsuperstitions with long traditions.

Good Luck

-Black cats are lucky 

-Cloveris a small plant. Usually it has three leaves, but a few have four. A cloverwith four leaves brings good luck.

-A horseshoe over the door of a new home brings good luck. But thehorseshoe must be the right way up. l~he luck runs out of a horseshoe if it'supside down.

-On the first day of the month it's lucky to say'White rabbits".

-It's good luck to see two magpies (large blackand white birds).

-Catch falling leaves in autumn and you'll havegood luck. Everv leaf means a lucky month in the next year.

Bad Luck

-Never open an umbrella in the house. That's verybad luck. Never break a mirror — that means seven years' bad luck. It's badluck to see just one magpie.

-Don'twalk under a ladder.

-Don't walk past soinchody onthe stairs.

-The number thirteen i~ very unlucky (and Friday the 13th is a «cryunlucky date).



Here are ten British “proverbs” or sayings.

1.Nothing ventured nothing gained.

You have to try or you won't get anything.

2. Oneman's meal is another man's poison.

People often don't like the same things.

3.The other man's grass is a/way's greener.

You always think that other people's lives arebetter than yours.

4. Don't look a gift horse in themouth. Don't question good luck.

5.Every cloud has a silver lining.

There's always some thing good in bad times.

6. It's no use crying overspilt milk. Don't be too sadafter a small acciden~.

7. Out of the frying pan,into the fire. From one problemto another.

8. Fools rush in whereangels fear to tread.

Stupid people do things that other people neverdo.

9.You can lead a horse towater but you cannot make it drink.

You can give a person a chance, but you can'tmake him or her take it.

10. A stitch in time savesnine.

Act early and you can save a lot of trouble.


Food and drink


In a real English breakfast you have fried eggs,bacon, sausage, tomato and mushrooms. Then there's toast and marmalade. There'san interesting story about the word „marmalade“. It may come from theFrench „Marie est malade“, or „Mary is ill.“ That's becausea seventeenth-century Queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots, liked it. Shealways asked for French orange jam when she was ill.


British people eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday inFebruary or March. For pancakes you need flour, eggs and milk. Then you eatthem with sugar and lemon. In some parts of Britain there are pancake races onShrove Tuesday. People race with a frying pan in one hand. They have to»toss" the pancake, throw it in the air and catch it again in thefrying pan.



This is the traditional Sunday lunch fromYorkshire in the north of England. It is now popular all over Britain.Yorkshire pudding is not sweet. It's a simple mixture of eggs, flour and milk,but it's delicious.

Two common vegetables with roast beef andYorkshire pudding are Brussels sprouts and carrots. And of course there'salways gravy. That's a thick, brown sauce. You make gravy with the juice fromthe meat.



Haggis is a tradinonal food from Scotland. Youmake it with meat, onions, flour, salt and pepper. Then you boil it in the skinfrom a sheep's stomach — yes, a sheep's stomach.

In Scotland, people eat haggis on Burns Night.Robert Burns (Scots people call him «Rabbie» Burns), was a Scottishpoet in the eighteenth century. Every year Scots people all over the worldremember him and read his poems.


Tea is Britain's favourite drink.It's also a meal in the afternoon. You can eat tea at home or in a hotel. Teaat the Ritz hotel in London is very good. You can drink Indian or China tea.There are cucumber sandwiches and scones. (Scones are plain cakes. You eat themwith jam and cream.) There are chocolate cakes and cream cakes too.


Some people make this pudding months beforeChristmis.

A lot of families have thcir own Christmaspudding recipe~.

Some, for example, use a lot ofbrandy. Others put in a lot of

fruit or add a silver coin for good luck.

Real Christmas puddings always have a piece ofholly on the top. Holly bushes and trees have red berries at Chris~mas-ume, andso people use holly to decorate their houses for Christmas. The holly on thepudding is part of the decoration. Also, you can pour brandy over the puddingand light it with a match.



The first Christians in Rome made hot cross bunstwo thousand years ago. But now they're an Easter tradition in Britain. Here'sa storv about hot cross buns. In 1800 a widow lived in a house in East London.Her only son was a sailor and went to sea. Everv vear she made hot cross bunsand kept one for him. He never came back, but she kept a bun for him everyyear. Then, after many, years,she died. Now, her house is a pub. It's called 'The Widow's Son". For along time people remembered the widow. Every Easter they put a hot cross bun ina special basket in the pub. Now the tradition is different. The owner of thepub sells the special hot cross bun. Then he gives the money to the BritishSailors' Societv.


Pubs are an important part of British life.People talk, eat, drink, meet their friends and relax there. They are open atlunchtime and again in the evening. But they close at 11.00 (10.30 on Sundays).This surprises a lot of tourists. But vou can always go to Scotland — the pubsclose later there!

The word «pub» is short for«public house». There are thousands in Britain, and they nearly allsell pub lunches. One of these is a Ploughman's Lunch a very simplemeal. It's ust bread and cheese.

Pubs also sell beer. (British beer is always warm.) The traditional kind is called “real ale”. That’s a verystrong beer from an old recipe.

An important custom in pubs is 'buying a.round". In a group, one person buys all the others a drink. This is a«round». Then one by one all the otherpeople but rounds, too.

If they are with friends, British peoplesometimes lift their glasses before they drink and sav «Cheers  This means»Good luck".

In the pubs in south-west Lngland there~s another traditional drink — scrumpy. You make scrumpy with apples, but it's not a simple fruit juice. It'svery very strong.

Pub names often have a long tradition. Some come from the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

Every pub has a name and every pub has a signabove its door. The sign shows a picture of the pub's name.



Each country also has a national«emblem» or sign. The English emblem is a red rose. The Welsh emblemis a vegetable or flower — a leek or a daffodil. The Scottish emblem is a wildplant — a thistle. And the Irish emblem is another wild plant — ashamrock.

It's traditional in Britain to wear yourcountry's emblem on its saint's day. The leek doesn't go in a buttonhole, sothe Welsh often wear a daffodil. These are Britain's patron saints and theirdays.

England — St George — April 23rd. Ireland — SiPatrick — March 17th. Scotland — St Andrew — November 30th. Wales — St David — March 1st.

The Scots, Welsh and English don't reallycelebrate their national saint's days. But St Patrick's Day is important for Irishpeople all over the world. In New York, for example, the Irish people alwayshave a big St Patrick's Day parade.

Costumes and clothes


Many British costumes and uniforms have a longhistory. One is the uniform of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. This camefirst from France. Another is the uniform of the Horse Guards at Horse Guards'Parade, not far from Buckingham Palace. Thousands of visitors take photographsof the Horse Guards, but the Guards never move or smile. In fact some visitors think the Guards aren't real. And that brings us to...Britannia. She wears traditionalclothes, too. But she’s not a real person. She is symbol of Britain.

Lots of ordinary clothes have a long tradition.The famous bowler hat, for example. A man called Beaulieu made the first one in1850.

  The very cold winters in the Crimea in the war of 1853-56 gave us thenames of the cardigan and the balaclava. Lord Cardigan led the Light Brigade atthe Battle of Balaclava (1854). A «cardigan» is now a warm woollenshort coat with buttons, and a «balaclava» is a woollen hat.

Another British soldier, Wellington, gave hisname to a pair of boots. They have a shorter name today — «Wellies».raced on the river Thames and the Oxford boat won. Thatstarted a tradition. Now, every Spring, the University Boat Race goes fromPutney to Mortlake on the Thames. That's 6.7 kilometres. The Cambridge rowerswear light blue shirts and the Oxford roWers wear dark blue. There are eightmen in each boat. There's also a «cox». The cox controls the boat.Traditionally coxes are men, but Susan Brown became the first woman cox in1981. She was the cox for Oxford and they won.



Ascot is a small, quiet town in the south ofEngland. But in June for one week it becomes the centre of the horse-racingworld. It's called Royal Ascot because the Queen always goes to Ascot. She hasa lot of racehorses and likes to watch racing. But Ascot week isn't just forhorseracing. It's for fashion, too. One woman, Mrs Gertrude Shilling, alwayswears very big hats. You can see the racecourse in the picture below.


The world's most famous tennis tournament isWimbledon. It started at a small club in south London in the nineteenthcentury. Now a lot of the nineteenth-century traditions have changed. Forexample, the women players don't have to wear long skirts. And the men playersdon't have to wear long trousers.

But other traditionshaven't changed at Wimbledon. The courts are still grass, and visitors stilleat strawberries arid cream. The language of tennis hasn't changed either. Didyou know that «love» (zero) comes from «l'oeuf» (the egg)in French?


 «Vintage» cars have to be.    morethan fifty years old and in very good condition. Lots ofpeople keep or collect vintage cars. And on the first Sunday in Novemberthere's a race or «Tally» for them. It starts in London and itfinishes in Brighton, a town on the south coast of England. That's a distanceof seventy kilometres.

Before 1896 a man with a red flag had to walk infront of cars. In 1896 that changed. A group of happy drivers broke their flagsand drove to Brighton. There they had a party. Now the rally is a sportingtradition.

A lot of the people inthe rally wear «vintage» clothes, too. In a 1910 car, for example,the driver and passengers wear 1910 hats and coats.


Traditionally Boxing Day is a day for foxhunting.The huntsmen and huntswomen ride horses. They use dogs, too. The dogs (foxhounds) follow the smell of the fox. Then the huntsmen and huntswomen followthe hounds.

Before a Boxing Dayhunt, the huntsmen and huntswomen drink hot wine. But the tradition of theDecember 26th hunt is changing. Now, some people want to stop Boxing Day hunts(and other hunts, too). They don't like foxhunting. For them it's not a sport — it's cruel.



This sporting tradition is Scottish. In theHighlands (the mountains of Scotland) families, or «clans», startedthe Games hundreds of years ago.

Some of the sports at the Games areinternational: the high jump and the long jump, for example. But other sportshappen only at the Highland Games. One is tossing the caber «Tossing»means throwing, and a «caber» is a long, heavy piece of wood. Intossing the caber you lift the caber (it can be five or six metres tall). Thenyou throw it in front of you.

At the Highland Games a lot of men wear kilts.These are traditional Scottish skirts for men. But they're not all the same.Each clan has a different «tartan». That's the name for the patternon the kilt. So at the Highland Games there are traditional sports and traditionalclothes. And there's traditional music, too, from Scotland's nationalinstrument -the bagpipes. The bagpipes are very loud. They say Scots soldiersplayed them before a battle. The noise frightened the soldiers on the otherside.


The grouse is a small bird. It lives in the northof England and in Scotland. It tastes very good. But people can't shoot grouseall the time. They can only shoot them for a few months of the year. And thefirst day ofthe grouse «season» is August 12th. On that day,«the glorious twelfth», hunters send their grouse to Londonrestaurants. There, people wait for the first grouse of the year. But there'sgood news for the grouse, too — the season ends on December 10th each year!

The Arts


Do you like classical music? Every summer inLondon there are two months of special concerts at the RoyalAlbert Hall. These are the «Proms». Sir Henry Woodstarted the Proms (short for «promenade» concerts) in thenineteenth century

Now they're a tradition in British musical life.

A lot of young people go to the Proms. They buycheap tickets and stand up for the concerts. They are the«promenaders». There are seats too, but the tickets for those costmore.

The music at theProms comes from some of the best singers and orchestras in the world. And onthe last night there's a big party at the Royal Albert Hall. People bringballoons and paper hats. The orchestra plays popular classical music and at theend everyone sings «Rule Britannia».



Actors have lots of traditions and superstitions.For example, you don't say «good luck» to an actor. You say«break a leg It's strange but true. „Good luck“ is bad luck.Also, actors never say the name of Shakespeare's famous play»Macbeth". They always call it «The Scottish Play». Intheatres the name Macbeth brings bad luck.

A third tradition is about whistling. You mustnever whistle in a theatre dressing room. Someone who whistles must go out ofthe room and turn around three times. Only affer that, can they knock on thedoor and come in again.


Every August, Edinburgh in Scotland has thebiggest art festival in Europe. There are plays, concerts and exhibitions fromcountries all over the world. That's the «official» festival. Butthere's an «unofficial» festival, too. This is called the Edinburgh«Fringe». At the Fringe, visitors can see cheaper concerts and playsby students.


Pantomimes are traditional British plays. Theyare for children, and you them at Christmas. Some famous pantomimes are: Cinderella, Aladdin, Peter Pan andBabes in the Wood. A lot of these stories are very old.In pantomime there's always a young hero. He's the Principal Boy, but theactor is usually a woman. Also,there's always a funny, old woman. She's the Pantomime.


An Eisteddfod is an arts festivalin Wales. People sing and read their poetry in the Welsh language. The Welshname for there poets is «bards». People also play music. The harp isvery popular in Wales. You can always hear harp music at an Eisteddfod. ButEisteddfods aren't lust festivals. They're also competitions to find the bestsingers, musicians and poets in Wales.



Britain's capital city is full of traditions andcustoms. Here's a guide to just a few of them.


Every year there's a new Lord Mayor of London.The Mayor is the city's traditional leader. And the second Saturday in Novemberis always the day for the Lord Mayor's Show. This cercnionv is over sixhundred years old. It's also London's biggest parade.

The Lord Mayor drives to the Royal Courts ofJustice (near Fleet Street) in a coach. The coach is twohundred years old. It's red and gold and it has six horses. You can see it inthe picture above.

There'salso a big parade. People make special costumes and act stories from London'shistory.


This is Europe's biggest street carnival. A lotof people in the Notting Hill area of London come from the West Indies — agroup of islands in the Caribbean. And for two days in August, Notting Hill isthe West Indies. There's West Indian food and music in the streets. There'salso a big parade and people dance day and night.


Londoners from the east of the citv are«Cockneys». There are a lot of traditional Cockney expressions. Forexample, Cockneys don't say «stairs' — they say „apples andpears“. And they don't sav „face“ — they say „boatrace“. This is Cockney rhyming slang.

The Cocknevs have kingsand queens, too — the 'pearly' kings and queens. They wear speLial costumes on important days.Each costume has thousands of pearl buttons.


William the Conqueror and his army landed inEngland from France in the year 1066. In 1078 he started to build the Towerof London. Now, nine hundred years later, this famous castle is full of historyand tradition.

The guards at the Towerare called Beefeaters. Uheir name comes from a French word — boufitiers. Boufitierswere guards in the palaces of French kings. They proiceted the king's food.

You will see somelarge, black birds at the Tower of London. Fliese are the ravens at theTower. Ravens have lived al the Tower of London forhundreds of vears.

People go to see the Beefeaters and the ravens,but that's not all. Visitors to the Tower go to see the CrownJewel, too.Thereare eight crowns. There are also a lot of other verv famous jewels in the jewelroom. In fact the Crown Jewels arc the biggest tourist attraction in London.

In the evening there is another old custom at thel~ower of London — the Ceremony of the Keys. At 9.53 exactly, the Beefeatersclose the Tower. Then at 10.00 they give the keys to the Governor of the Tower.That's because a long time ago the Tower of London was a prison for importantprisoners:

Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII's second wife), SirWalter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes, and many others.




The British talk about the weather a lot. Forexample, ''Isn't it a beautiful morning?» or, '’Verycold today, isn't it?" They talk about the weatherbecause it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun cloud, snow — they can all happen in a British winter — ora British summer.



At British banks, shops, cinemas, theatres or busstops you can always see people in queues. They stand in a line and waitquietly, often for a long time. Each new person stands at the end of the queue- sometimes in rain, wind or snow.



Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began thiscustom. They shook hands to show that they didn't have a sword. Now, shakinghands is a custom in most countries. In Britain you don't shake hands with yourfriends and familv. But you do shake hands when you meet a person for thefirst time. You also sav «How do you do?» This is not reallv aquestion, it's a tradition. The correct answer is exactlv the same, «Howdo you do?»


The British sen'd birthday cards and often givebirthday presents. There are cards for other days, too:

Christmas cards, Valentine's Dav cards, Mother'sDay cards, Father's Day cards, Easter cards, Wedding Anniversary cards, GoodLuck cards, «Congratulations On Your New Baby» cards, and «GetWell Soon» cards.


It's the custom to have a party to celebrate:

A person's birthday

A new house

Christmas (at home, and often in offices, too)

An engagement (a promise to marry)

A wedding (marriage)

New Year's Eve


Whenpeople are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed on the wrongside. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People believe that the waythey rose in the morning affected their behavior throughout the day. The wrongside of the bed was the left side. The left always having been linked withevil.



Thecustom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to the ancient Greeks.Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting, used to place honeycakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. The cakes were round likethe full moon and lit with tapers. This custom was next recorded in the middleages when German peasants lit tapers on birthday cakes, the number litindicating the person's age, plus an extra one to represent the light of life.From earliest days burning tapers had been endued with mystical significanceand it was believedthat when blown out they had the power to grant a secretwish and ensure a happy year ahead.

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