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British customs and traditions


British nation is considered to be the most conservative in Europe. It is not a secret that every nation and every country has its own customs and traditions. In Great Britain people attach greater importance to traditions and customs than in other European countries. Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. The best examples are their queen, money system, their weights and measures.

There are many customs and some of them are very old. There is, for example, the Marble Championship, where the British Champion is crowned; he wins a silver cup known among folk dancers as Morris Dancing. Morris Dancing is an event where people, worn in beautiful clothes with ribbons and bells, dance with handkerchiefs or big sticks in their hands, while traditional music sounds.

Another example is the Boat Race, which takes place on the river Thames, often on Easter Sunday. A boat with a team from Oxford University and one with a team from Cambridge University hold a race.

British people think that the Grand National horse race is the most exciting horse race in the world. It rakes place near Liverpool every year. Sometimes it happens the same day as the Boat Race takes place, sometimes a week later. Amateur riders as well as professional jockeys can participate. It is a very famous event.

There are many celebrations in May, especially in the countryside.

Halloween is a day on which many children dress up in unusual costumes. In fact, this holiday has a Celtic origin. The day was originally called All Halloween’s Eve, because it happens on October 31, the eve of all Saint’s Day. The name was later shortened to Halloween. The Celts celebrated the coming of New Year on that day.

Another tradition is the holiday called Bonfire Night. On November 5, 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament where the king James 1st was to open Parliament on that day. But Guy Fawkes was unable to realize his plan and was caught and later, hanged. The British still remember that Guy Fawkes’ Night. It is another name for this holiday. This day one can see children with figures; made of sacks and straw and dressed in old clothes. On November 5th, children put their figures on the bonfire, burn them, and light their fireworks.



In the end of the year, there is the most famous New Year celebration. In London, many people go to Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve. There is singing and dancing at 12 o’clock on December 31st.

A popular Scottish event is the Edinburgh Festival of music and drama, which takes place every year. A truly Welsh event is the Eisteddfod, a national festival of traditional poetry and music, with a competition for the best new poem in Welsh.

If we look at English weights and measures, we can be convinced that the British are very conservative people. They do not use the internationally accepted measurements. They have conserved their old measures. There are nine essential measures. For general use, the smallest weight is one ounce, and then 16 ounce is equal to a pound. Fourteen pounds is one stone. The English always give people’s weight in pounds and stones. Liquids they measure in pints, quarts and gallons. There are two pints in a quart and four quarts or eight pints are in one gallon. For length, they have inches, foot, yards and miles.

If we have always been used to the metric system therefore the English monetary system could be found rather difficult for us. They have a pound sterling, which is divided into twenty shillings, half-crown is cost two shillings and sixpence, shilling is worth twelve pennies and one penny could be changed by two halfpennies.



 

Vocabulary:

A bank holiday-национальный праздник

A religious holiday-религиозный праздник

To make marry - веселиться

To be celebrated- отмечаться

Great-heartedness- доброта, великодушие

To be marked with a custom-отмечаться с соблюдением каких-либо традиций

A New Year party- новогодняя вечеринка

To be held on New Year`s Eve-проводиться в канун Нового года

To see the old year out-провожать старый год

To see the New Year in -встречать новый год

Folk- народный

To crown- короновать

Amateur- любитель

Bonfire Night- ночь костров

All Halloween’s eve- Канун всех святых

Straw- солома

To convince- убеждать

 

Exercise1. Comprehension questions:

1. What is a Bank Holiday? 2. What are the religious holidays for most people nowadays? 3. What holiday is the start of the summer tourist season? 4. What do people do on Christmas Day? 5. When does Spring Bank Holiday fall on? 6. What do people eat on the Friday before Easter? 7. What nation is considered to be the most conservative in Europe? 8. What are the best examples of their conservatism? 9. What are the most popular English traditions? 10. What is the original name of Halloween? 11. What is a popular Scottish event? 12. What is the Eisteddfod? 13. What peculiarities of the English monetary system do you know?


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