It may seem strange, but in Britain more holidays than in many other countries. Some of them are public holidays. In England and Wales currently only five holidays (New Year, Easter Monday, in spring and late summer, Boxing Day), they are also common to have two holidays (Good Friday and Christmas Day). In Scotland and Northern Ireland, they have six holidays, as well as two other public holiday. Dates of the holidays are set annually.
Public and Bank Holidays England and Wales
New Year's Day 1 Jan
Holiday 2 Jan
Good Friday 14 Apr
Easter Monday 17 Apr
May Day holiday lMay
Spring holiday 29 May
Late Summer Holiday 28 Aug
Christmas Day 25 Dec
Boxing Day 26 Dec
Christian FestivalsAsh Wednesday 1 Mar
Palm Sunday 9 Apr
Good Friday 14 Apr
Ascension Day25 May
Whit Sunday 4Jun
Trinity Sunday 11Jun
Advent Sunday 3Dec
Notable Dates St. Andrew's Day (Scotland) 30 Nov
St. David's Day (Wales) 1 Mar
St.George's Day (England) 23 Apr
St Patrick's Day (Ireland) 17 Mar
Pancake Day 28 Feb
Halloween 31 Oct
Mothering Sunday 26 Mar
Father's Day 18 Jun
British Summer Time begins 26 Mar
British Summer Time ends 29 Oct
Remembrance Sunday 12 Nov
January, 1. New Year's Day
It is a bank holiday though many Britons do not celebrate on New Year's Eve. In Scotland New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay and is an occasion for joyous celebrations. In London Scottish people gather on steps of St. Paul's Cathedral and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight.
February', 14, St. Valentine's Day
February 14th is the day on which young lovers in England send each other anonymous Valentines—bright, lacy, colourful cards, with loving emblems and amorous doggerel. The shops are full of these cards.
The message the Valentine conveys is simple. Love's message has always been so. Here are some examples'.
February the fourteenth day,
It's Valentine, they say,
I choose you from among the rest,
The reason was I loved you best.
Sure as the grape grows on the vine,
So sure you are my Valentine.
The rose is red, the violet blue,
Lilies are fair and so are you.
Round is the ring that has no end,
So is my love for you, my friend,
Again do take this in good part,
Along with it you have my heart.
But if you do the same refuse,
Pray burn this paper and me excuse.Pancake Races on Shrove Tuesday
In England, Shrove Tuesday is the day for pancakes. At home, families have pancakes to dinner. At school, the children and teachers have pancakes for school dinner, and in restaurants customers often ask for pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
Everyone knows that pancakes are delicious to eat, but do you know that in England, on Shrove Tuesday, people race with them, fight for them? At Westminster School, in London, the boys have pancakes for dinner on Shrove Tuesday. But before dinner there is the pancake fight. The school cook tosses a pancake high into the air. The boys (one from each class) fight for the pancake. The winner of the fight is the boy who gets the biggest piece of pancake. He wins a guinea (£1.05). And the boys who don't win? Well, at least they get a pancake for dinner!
April. 3. Easter
The word Easter owes its name and many of its customs to a pageant festival hold eostre which is the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring time. Every spring European peoples celebrated the festival to honour the awakening of new life in nature.
Christians related the rising of the sun to the resurrection of Jesus and their old spiritual rebirth. This "holy" day is celebrated in many countries of the world.
Egg-rolling is a traditional Easter pastime which still flourishes in northern England, Scotland, Ulster, the Isle of Man, and Switzerland. It takes place on Easter Sunday or Monday, and consists of rolling coloured, hard-boiled eggs down a slope until they are cracked and broken after which they are eaten by their owners. In some districts, this is a competitive game, the winner being the player whose egg remains longest undamaged, but more usually, the fun consists simply of the rolling and eating.
Spring and Summer Bank Holidays
The Summer Bank Holiday is the most popular holiday, because it comes at a time when children are not at school. Many families try to go away to the seaside or the country as they may indeed have done at Easter or in spring.
Merry England and London May Queen Festival
Visitors from many parts of the world are among the thousands of people who gather on the Common at Hayes, near Bromley, Kent, to witness the crowning of London's May Queen. It is the largest May Queen Festival in Britain and over a thousand children take part. The date is the second Saturday in May. The procession forms up in the village about 1.30 p.m. and makes its way to the common by way of the village church. The actual crowning takes place about 3 p.m. As many as forty May Queens from different parts of the country are present and with their attendants present a colourful spectacle. Their dresses are beautifully made, with a distinctive colour scheme for almost all the different "Realms". The Festival has been held since 1880.
The Fifth of November—Guy Fawkes DayThere is a special day in England which is called Guy Fawkes Day. On the fifth of November every year English boys and girls carry funny figures about the streets. These figures are mad of straw and dressed in an old coat and a hat, with a mask for a face. The children knock at the doors and sing; "Remember, remember,
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I don't see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."
The children expect people to give them some money which is spent on fireworks. In the evening a bonfire is made, and the figures are burnt on it. Each of the figures is called Guy Fawkes. You want to know, of course, who Guy Fawkes was and what he did.
On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes and some other people planned to blow up the English Parliament. The plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes was hanged. At the moment of his arrest he wore a mask on his face.
So ever since, as November 5th approaches, children let off fireworks and burn straw figures on a big bonfire.
November. 11, Remembrance Day
This day is observed throughout the Commonwealth and dates back to November 11, 1918 when all fighting in the First World War ended. It now commemorates British soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives in the two World Wars. Special services are held and wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph, a war memorial at Whitehall, where thousands of Londoners observe the two-minute silence and participate in the remembrance ceremony. Similar ceremonies are held throughout the country.
December. 25. Christmas
In England Christmas is the most important of all the bank holidays of the year. It is celebrated much the same way as in the United States of America. On December 26, the Boxing Day, traditionally people give each other Christmas presents, which used to come in boxes. It is a very pleasant custom indeed.
Christmas Day, December 25th, is probably the most exciting day of the year for most English children. They know that they will get presents, just as they do on their birthdays, but on Christmas Day most of them will also see what their brothers and sisters have received. They also have the pleasure of giving presents, which is often as satisfying as receiving them.
Traditionally, English children hang a stocking at the end of the bed on Christmas Eve. In the morning they check whether the stocking has been filled with small toys, fruit and sweets. Larger toys will be nearby.
The morning will be spent playing with new toys, then comes lunch, often with the turkey or goose as the main dish. Afterwards there is Christmas pudding to be eaten. Usually a coin or two will have been hidden inside it, and part of the fun is to see who finds it. No doubt English hospitals receive urgent telephone calls every year from parents whose children noticed the coins only as they were swallowing them.