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Guy Fawkes Night

This holiday is known in Britain as Bonfire Night. It’s one of the most cherished holidays in the country. Each year it’s celebrated with massive fireworks and bonfires. According to a calendar, the holiday falls on the 5th of November and commemorates the failure of Gunpowder Plot. Some historic facts prove that this evil project was led by a person named Guy Fawkes in 1605. He was a member of a Catholic group that tried to set some explosives beneath the Houses of Parliament while the king was in the building. The plotters were caught and convicted in high treason. The tradition to light bonfires on this day has a different background, but is well connected with the idea of the holiday. As it’s almost the end of autumn people find it necessary to burn all their garden rubbish. In larger cities the authorities organize collective bonfires in a communal space. There are also professional fireworks at park zones. In some regions people keep the tradition of dressing up into spooky thematic outfits. Children’s favorite part during Gay Fawkes Night is the tasty food sold in streets. For example baked potatoes, homemade toffee apples, sausage rolls, popcorn etc. However, not everyone favors this legendary holiday and certainly it’s not a public holiday. All schools and public organizations are open as usual. Transport works according to its habitual timetable. There were many cases of injuries, connected with fireworks. That’s why many people are against loud celebration.

On February 14th it’s Saint Valentine’s Day in Britain.

It is not a national holiday. Banks and offices do not close, but it is a happy little festival in honour of St. Valentine. On this day, people send Valentine cards to their husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends. You can also send a card to a person you do not know. But traditionally, you must never write your name on it. Some British newspapers have got a page for Valentine s Day messages on February 14th. This lovely day is widely celebrated among people of all ages by the exchanging of valentines. Saint Valentine was a martyr but this feast goes back to pagan times and the Roman feast of Lupercalia. The names of young unmarried girls were put into a vase. The young men each picked a name, and discovered the identity of their brides. This custom came to Britain when the Romans invaded it. But the church moved the festival to the nearest Christian saint’s day this was Saint Valentine’s Day.

Midsummer’s Day, June 24th, is the longest day of the year. On that day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England. But what was Stonehenge? A holy place? A market? Or was it a kind of calendar? Many people think that the Druids used it for a calendar. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge to know the start of months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain today, too. And every June 24th a lot of them go to Stonehenge. On that morning the sun shines on one famous stone the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment in the year. But for a lot of British people it is just a strange old custom.

Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) is celebrated throughout Britain in commemoration of the million or more British soldiers, sailors and airmen who lost their lives during the two World Wars.

It 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.

Londoners celebrate carnivals. And one of them is Europe s biggest street carnival. A lot of people in the Notting Hill area of London come from the West Indies a group of islands in the Caribbean. And for two days in August, Nutting Hill is the West Indies.

There is West Indian food and music in the streets. There is also a big parade and people dance day and night.

April 1st is April Fool’s Day in Britain.

This is a very old tradition from the Middle Ages between the fifth and fifteenth centuries. 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 is a day for jokes and tricks. One of the most interesting competitions is the university boat race. Oxford and Cambridge are Britain’s two oldest universities. In the nineteenth century, rowing was a popular sport at both of them. In 1829 they agreed to have a race. They raced on the river Thames and the Oxford boat won. That started a tradition. Now, every spring, the University Boat Race goes from Putney to Mortlake on the Thames. That is 6,7 kilometres. The Cambridge rowers wear light blue shirts and the Oxford rowers wear dark blue. There are eight men in each boat. There is also a cox. The cox controls the boat. Traditionally coxes are men, but Susan Brown became the first woman cox in 1981. She was the cox for Oxford and they won.

An annual British tradition, which captures the imagination of the whole nation is the London to Brighton Car Rally in which a fleet of ancient cars indulges in a lighthearted race from the Capital to the Coast. When the veteran cars set out on the London Brighton run each November, they are celebrating one of the great landmarks in the history of motoring in Britain the abolition of the rule that every horseless carriage had to be preceded along the road by a pedestrian. This extremely irksome restriction, imposed by the Locomotives on Highways Act, was withdrawn in 1896, and on November of that year there was a rally of motor-cars on the London - Brighton highway to celebrate the first day of freedom Emancipation Day, as it has known by motorists ever since. Emancipation is still on the first Sunday of the month, but nowadays there is an important condition of entry every car taking part must be at least 60 years old.

The Run is not a race. Entrants are limited to a maximum average speed of 20 miles per hour. The great thing is not speed but quality of performance, and the dedicated enthusiasts have a conversation all their own.

The Highland Games this sporting tradition is Scottish. In the Highlands the mountains of Scotland families, or clans, started the Games hundreds of years ago. Some of the sports are the Games are international the high jump and the long jump, for example. But other sports happen only at the Highland Games. One is tossing the caber. Tossing means throwing, and a caber is a long, heavy piece of wood. In tossing the caber you lift the caber it can be five or six metres tall. Then you 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 are not all the same. Each clan has a different tartan.

That is the name for the pattern on the kilt. So at the Highland Games there are traditional sports and traditional instrument the bagpipes. The bagpipes are very loud. They say, Scots soldier played them before a battle. The noise frightened the soldiers on other side.

The world’s most famous tennis tournament is Wimbledon.

It started at a small club in south London in the nineteenth century. Now a lot of the nineteenth century traditions have changed. For example, the women players don’t have to wear long skirts. And the men players do not have to wear long trousers. But other traditions have not changed at Wimbledon. The courts are still grass, and visitors still eat strawberries and cream. The language of tennis has not changed either.



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