English traditionsThere are only 8 official public holidays a year. They are New Year Holiday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day Holiday, Spring Holiday, Summer Holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. But there are many more unofficial holidays, with which different traditions and customs are connected.
English people celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. They send each other Christmas cards. Family members wrap up their gifts and leave them at the bottom of the Christmas tree, to be found on Christmas morning. Traditional English dinner on Christmas is turkey and pudding. On that day in Trafalgar Square there is a Christmas tree which is over fifty feet high It is a present from the people of Oslo. They send it to Londoners every year.
There is one interesting New Year's tradition. It is an old custom of FFing.
FF- First FootThe first visitor who comes into a house on New Year's morning is called the FF. This visitor is very important. The English people believe that the FF brings good luck to the family for the following twelve months. The FF brings some symbolic presents: a piece of coal to wish warmth, a piece of bread to wish food, and a silver coin to wish wealth. The FF also brings an evergreen branch as a promise of continuing life. No one should go outside, nothing should be taken out of the house before the FF has come. The FF must be a man or a boy but not a woman. He must have black hair or fair hair but not red hair.
Pancake day is a gay and tasty holiday with the English. It is usually in March. People do not only eat pancakes, they run with them. In some villages and towns in England pancake races take place every year. These races are run by housewifes. There are special rules about pancake races: housewifes must wear aprons, they must put on hats or scarves on their heads. They must run about 415 yards. It is nearly 410 meters. A bell rings twice before the race. With the first bell the women must make their pancakes. With the second bell they start running with a pancake in a frying-pan. While running the race they must toss the pancake three times and catch it back on the frying-pan. If the pancake falls down the runner loose the race. The other members of the families watch the runners and cheer them up.
In 1605 King James 1 was on the throne. He was a Protestant and some of the Catholics planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th of November of that year, when the king was going to open the Parliament. Guy Fawkes's role was to start fire. But he was discovered, arrested and executed. Since that day British traditionally celebrate 5th November by burning a dummy of Guy Fawkes.
In the UK there are four Saint's Days: St. David's Day is celebrated on the 1st of March.
St. David is a patron saint of Wales.
St. Patrick's Day is on the 17th of March. He is a patron saint of Ireland.
St. George's Day is on 23 of April. He is a patron saint of England.
And St. Andrew's Day is on the 30th of November. St Andrew is a patron saint of Scotland.