Some Public and Traditional Holidays in Great Britain
Different countries have different traditions and customs. Many interesting traditions are connected with holidays celebrations. Read about holidays in Great Britain to get to know some interesting British traditions.
Year 5 Level A1+
There are several public and traditional holidays in Great Britain. The most favourite ones are Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, May Day, St. Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
People in Great Britain celebrate Christmas on the twenty-fifth of December. On the eve of this holiday all people do the shopping. They buy food and presents. On Christmas Day families and friends exchange presents and share a Christmas dinner. Traditionally, they cook a turkey and a Christmas pudding. There are crackers beside every place setting. Crackers are colourful packages with a paper hat, a joke and a little present. Two people pull it in different directions to make a cracking noise.
Children also prepare for a holiday. They make the decorations and write a letter to Father Christmas. They believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus brings presents to them. On Christmas Eve children hang Christmas stockings on their beds or at the fireplace. Father Christmas comes down the chimney and puts presents in their stockings.
One of the symbols of Christmas is a Christmas Tree. Many people in Great Britain have a decorated Christmas Tree in their houses at Christmas. This tradition came to Britain from Germany. Prince Albert put up the first Christmas Tree for his wife, Queen Victoria, in Windsor Castle, in 1841.
Answer the questions.
- What do the British people do before Christmas Day?
- What special dishes do they make?
- Where does the tradition of decorating Christmas Tree come from?
- Why do British children hang their Christmas stockings?
- Who do children write a letter to?
- What are the symbols of Christmas?
February 14th is a special day. It’s a day to tell somebody that you love them. The holiday started in Europe more than 600 years ago. About 200 years ago people started sending Valentine cards. The cards have a message of friendship and love. Sometimes the cards do not say who they are from. It’s a secret and the person never knows who sent the card.
Today people celebrate St. Valentine’s Day all over the world. They send cards or give presents to those they love. They also share lovely short messages.
Complete the sentences.
- People celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on … .
- The holiday started … .
- People started sending Valentine cards … .
- The cards have … .
- On St. Valentine’s Day people … .
- Today they also … with the help of their mobile phones.
Easter is a very important holiday in Great Britain. Children have Easter holidays for two weeks. People don’t go to work on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, and on Easter Monday, the day after Easter Sunday.
At Easter people love painting and decorating chicken eggs. Easter eggs are often given as presents. The most popular traditions at Easter are Easter egg hunts and egg rolling. They say that Easter bunny hides eggs in the house or the garden for children to find on Easter morning. Bigger egg hunts are held in public places, like parks and schools. The eggs can be real hard-boiled and painted eggs, plastic eggs with sweets and chocolate inside or small chocolate eggs.
Egg rolling competitions are usually held on Easter Monday. People roll hard-boiled eggs down a hill and the first egg to get to the bottom of the hill without breaking wins.
Hot cross buns are an Easter specialty in Great Britain. Hot cross buns are sweet rolls with dried fruit or raisins and topped with a cross. They are served hot.
There is a very popular old rhyme about hot cross buns which was originally a street cry of bakers trying to sell their buns in open-air markets:
“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!”
Good Friday – the Friday before Easter Sunday
egg hunt – a game during which Easter eggs are hidden for children to find
egg rolling – the tradition of rolling eggs down a grassy hill
hard-boiled eggs – eggs that are cooked in the shell until the yolk and the white are completely solid
competition – an event or contest
are held – arranged events, activities
specialty -a type of food that a person, restaurant, or area is well known for
Do this Easter Quiz
1.The wish for Easter is
a. Happy Easter
b. Happy spring
c. Happy holidays
2. The symbol of Easter is a … a happy rabbit with a basket of chocolate eggs.
3. The Easter bunny brings eggs to children on Easter …
4. Easter egg hunt: on Easter Sunday … kids go out and look for eggs.
5. Chocolate bunnies and chocolate … are very popular in Great Britain at Easter.
6. Kids take a … to collect their eggs during the egg hunt.
a. plastic bag
c. school bag
7. Eggs are a symbol of … and new life.
8. People make a nice decoration – they put branches in a vase and hang eggs on them. This is called …
a. Easter egg tree
b. Easter egg branches
c. Easter egg vase
9. At Easter people wear special hats. They are called …
a. Easter caps
b. Easter hats
c. Easter bonnets
10. The Queen goes to Westminster Abbey and she gives money to some poor people. This happens on …
a. Maundy Thursday
b. Maundy Tuesday
c. Maundy Monday
11. People eat hot cross buns on …
a. Good Friday
b. Maundy Thursday
c. Easter Sunday
12. Easter egg rolling is not a popular Easter tradition.
In Old England May Day was a holiday of spring. Young people celebrated this day with flowers, dances and games.
On the first Sunday in May people put up a maypole tree. They decorated it with flowers and ribbons of different colours. The dancers held the ribbons and moved around the tree. On that day the girls of the village put on their best summer dresses and put flowers in their hair. The most beautiful girl became the May Queen. Her crown was made of nice spring flowers. Young people danced a lot and played different games.
Nowadays English children celebrate their holiday in many parts of the country. They crown their May Queen, dance around the maypole tree and have fun.
Answer the questions
- Is May Day popular in England nowadays?
- What do people decorate a maypole tree with?
- What girl becomes the May Queen?
- What is the May Queen’s crown made of?
- Do children like dancing around the maypole tree?
The British celebrate Halloween on the 31st of October. In the evening boys and girls put on different old and funny clothes or costumes and wear masks. They take with them a lantern made of a pumpkin. It is called jack-o’-lantern. They cut out two eyes, a nose and a mouth and put a lighted candle inside. So the pumpkin looks like a face.
Children go from house to house, knock at the doors and call, “Trick or treat?” People ask them to come into their houses and give them candies, fruit, chocolate bars, cakes and other tasty things.
Halloween is a funny holiday.
Correct the sentences.
- The British people celebrate Halloween on the 21st of October.
- In the morning children put on funny clothes and costumes.
- A lantern made of pumpkin is called john-o’-lantern.
- The house owners treat children with meat and vegetables.
- Halloween is a boring day.