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					Festivals & Holidays

   Christmas is the time when Christians around the world
    celebrate the birth of Christ.
   The word Christmas (or Christ's Mass) comes from the Old
    English name Cristes Maesse.
   The first “Christmas” occurred in Rome in AD360, but it wasn't
    until AD440 that the became December 25.
   Most people are on holiday in England and stay at home with
    their family on Christmas day.
   During the weeks before Christmas Day, the British send cards,
    watch nativity plays and go to carol services.
   Homes and churches are decorated with green leaves, paper
    decorations and colourful electric lights.
   Advent is the new year of the
    Christian Church and the church
    season that leads to Christmas
   Advent begins on the Sunday
    nearest to 30th November (St.
    Andrew's Day) and lasts until
    Christmas Eve.
   The beginning of Advent is when
    the preparations for Christmas
    really begin - the festive menu is
    planned, gifts are chosen and
    wrapped, carols sung, cards are
    written and posted and houses
Advent Calendars
   Advent calendars are to
    remind children when
    Christmas Eve will arrive.
   An Advent calendar is a
    card with twenty-four small
   One door is opened each
    day from December 1 until
    Christmas Eve.
   Every morning children open
    1 door of the calendar to find
    a picture or a chocolate
   Today, many Advent
    calendars today have no
    religious content.
   It is traditional in England
    for Primary schools to put
    on a Nativity play At
    Christmas time.
   The Nativity Play
    recreates the birth of
    Christ, and the visit by the
    Shepherds and Wise
   The parts of Mary,
    Joseph, the Shepherds
    and the Wise Men are
    played by the children.
   A pantomime is a traditional
    British Christmas play.
   They traditionally start on Boxing
    Day and run for two or three
    months in theatres.
   Nowadays, pantomimes are great
    family entertainments and pop
    stars, comedians, sports people
    and TV personalities often take
    part in them.
   Pantomimes are a mix of fairy
    stories, folk tales and much loved
    cartoons, which encourage
    audience participation.
   In pantomimes the male roles are
    often played by women and
    female roles by men.
   Favourite pantomimes are Snow
    White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and
    Puss in Boots.
   To celebrate Christmas Day
    many people decorate their
   Red and green are the
    traditional colours of
   Green represents the
    continuance of life through the
   Red symbolizes the blood that
    Jesus shed at His Crucifixion.
   Decorations are made of
    coloured paper and foil.
   Towns and cities decorate
    their streets with colourful
   Plants like Holly, mistletoe and
    ivy are also used as
Christmas Tree
   Most houses in England, will have
    a tree of some sort which they will
    decorate and will place presents
   The traditional tree is a fir tree but
    today more people use artificial
    trees to 'save the earth'.
   The decorating of the tree is
    usually a family occasion, with
    everyone helping.
   The Christmas tree became
    popular in England in 1841 when
    Queen Victoria's husband, Prince
    Albert, brought a Christmas tree
    over from Germany and put it in
    Windsor Castle.
Yule Log
   It is traditional to light a special
    'Yule' log on Christmas Eve and
    keep it burning through the 12
    nights of Christmas until Twelfth
   The Celts believed that, for twelve
    days at the end of December, the
    sun stood still
   If they could keep yule logs burning
    bright for those twelve days, then
    the sun would be made to move
    again, and the days would grow
   If a yule log went out, then there
    would be terrible luck,
   Yule is an old word for the winter
    festival, dating back to Viking times.
Christmas Cards

   The first Christmas card was
    created and sent in 1843
   Traditionally, Christmas
    cards showed religious
    pictures of Mary, Joseph
    and baby Jesus, or other
    parts of the Christmas story.
   Today, pictures are often
    winter pictures, Father
    Christmas, or jokes.
Christmas Carols
   Special songs sung during the Christmas
   They were written for a special purpose, often
    to accompany performances of religious
    dramas dating from medieval times.
   Caroling is one of the oldest customs in Great
   Poor people seeking food, money, or drink,
    would wander the streets singing holiday
   People still go 'carol singing'. This is where
    people will go from house to house singing
    carols and collecting money for charity.
   The traditional period to sing carols was from
    St Thomas's Day (December 21) until the
    morning of Christmas Day.
    Christmas Eve
   Christmas Eve (December 24)
    is traditionally the day for
    decorating churches and
    homes. It marks the beginning
    of the period formally known as
   Eve is not short for evening, it
    refers to the day before an
    important day.
   It is the time when Father
    Christmas / Santa comes.
   Children leave mince pies and
    brandy for Father Christmas,
    and a carrot for the reindeer.
   Children hang their christmas
    stockings or bags up ready for
    Father Christmas, who will
    hopefully fill them up with
    presents, if the children have
    been good.
Christmas Eve during WWI
   On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve 1914, firing from
    the German trenches suddenly stopped.
   A German brass band began playing Christmas carols.
   On Christmas morning, the German soldiers came out of their
    trenches, approaching the allied lines, calling "Merry
   At first the allied soldiers thought it was a trick, but they soon
    climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the German
   The truce lasted a few days, and the men exchanged presents
    of cigarettes and plum puddings, sang carols and songs. They
    even played a game of Soccer.
Christmas Eve Superstitions
   An old wives' tale says that
    bread baked on Christmas
    Eve will never go mouldy.
   At midnight, a certain rose
    slowly opens and re-closes its
    petals to salute the birthday of
   Also at midnight, all the sheep
    in the fields turn and bow
    towards the East.
Father Christmas
   Father Christmas is the British name
    for Santa Claus.
   He is an old jolly man with white hair,
    a beard and a moustache.
   He is dressed in a red suit outlined in
   Father Christmas and his elves make
    all the toys for Christmas in his home
    in the North Pole.
   Father Christmas is based on a real
    person, St. Nicholas.
   He was a very shy man and wanted
    to give money to poor people without
    them knowing about it.
    Christmas Day
   Children wake up very early in
    the morning to find their
    stockings have been filled by
    Father Christmas and excitedly
    unwrap the presents before
    going down to breakfast.
   Families gather together in late
    morning or the afternoon to
    open the presents found under
    the Christmas tree.
   The tradition of giving gifts is
    thought to be related to the gifts
    that the wise men (the Magi)
    brought to Jesus.
   Many people will go to church to
    sing carols and to celebrate the
    birth of Jesus on Christmas
    Day. More people attend the
    church on this day than any
    other day of the year.
The Queen's Speech
   A traditional of Christmas
    afternoon is the Queen's
    Christmas Message.
   At three o'clock in the
    afternoon, the Queen gives her
    Christmas Message to the
    nation on radio and television.
   The Queen's message is also
    broadcast throughout the
    British Commonwealth. The
    custom was begun by King
    George V in 1932.
Christmas Dinner
   This main Christmas Meal is
    usually eaten at lunchtime or
    early afternoon.

    A traditional English
    Christmas dinner consists of
    roast turkey and stuffing,
    roast potatoes and
    vegetables, bread sauce,
    cranberry sauce and gravy,
    followed by Christmas
    pudding with brandy butter.
Turkey Tradition

   A Christmas tradition
    involving the turkey is to pull
    its wishbone.
    This is one of the bones of
    the turkey which is shaped
    like the letter 'Y'.
   Two people will each hold
    an end and pull. The person
    left with the larger piece of
    the bone makes a wish.
The Christmas Pudding
   Christmas pudding is a
    brown pudding with raisins,
    nuts and cherries. It is
    served with custard or
    brandy butter.
   Often brandy is poured over
    the pudding, which is then
    set a light as it is carried to
    the table. The lights are
    turned off so people can see
    the flames.
   Traditionally silver coins
    were hidden in it.
   A silver coin brought good
    fortune to whomever was
    lucky enough to find it when
    the pudding was cut.
Christmas Crackers
   It is traditional to pull Christmas
    Crackers before the meal.

   Traditionally a Christmas cracker
    is placed next to each plate on
    the Christmas dinner table.

   When the crackers are pulled,
    out falls a colourful party crown,
    a toy or gift and a festive joke.
Christmas Tea

   The afternoon/evening
    meal contains mince
    pies and a Christmas
   This cake is a rich
    baked fruit cake with
    marzipan, icing and
    sugar frosting.
Boxing Day
   Boxing Day is the day after
    Christmas Day.
   Like Christmas Day it is also
    a national holiday in England.
   The name goes back more
    than 800 years
   Boxes were placed at the
    back of every church to
    collect money for the poor.
   Recently some
    shops have broken
    from tradition and
    started opening on
    Boxing Day to start
    the New Year sales.
   Hundreds of people
    now spend Boxing
    Day morning in
    queues outside
National Days

   National Days in Britain are not celebrated to
    the same extent as National Days in
    countries like the United States.
   Each country in the United Kingdom has its
    own National Day, named after their
    respective patron saint
St. David's Day

   St David's Day is the national day of
   It is celebrated in Wales on 1 March, in
    honour of Dewi Sant or St David, the
    patron saint of Wales.
   He was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop,
    who lived in the sixth century. He spread
    Christianity across Wales.
   St David's Day is commemorated by the
    wearing of daffodils or leeks. Both plants
    are traditionally regarded as national
St. Patrick's Day
   17 March is the national day of Northern
   Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
   He is credited with bringing Christianity to
   He was born in Britain, he was carried off
    by pirates and spent six years in slavery
    before escaping and training as a
   The day is marked by the wearing of
    shamrocks (a clover-like plant), the
    national emblem of both Northern Ireland
    and the Republic of Ireland.
St. George's Day

   23 April is the national
    day of England.
   A story dating back to the
    6th century tells that St
    George rescued a
    maiden by slaying a
    fearsome fire-breathing
   Some people wear a red
    rose on St Georges Day.
St. Andrew's Day

   30 November is the
    national day of
   St. Andrew was one of
    Christ's twelve apostles.
   Some of his bones are
    said to have been
    brought to what is now
    St. Andrews in Fife
    during the 4th century.
'Bank' holidays

   Other public holidays in Britain are commonly
    known as 'bank' holidays
   They are called this because these are the
    days on which banks are legally closed.
   Most are on a Monday
Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)
   Shrove Tuesday is the last day before
   Shrove Tuesday is always 47 days
    before Easter Sunday, so the date
    varies from year to year and falls
    between February 3 and March 9.
   Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving
    things up.
   Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to
    indulge yourself, and to use up the
    foods that aren't allowed in Lent.
   Pancakes are eaten on this day
    because they contain fat, butter and
    eggs which were forbidden during Lent
   Like most Christian
    festivals, Easter has its
    origins in pre-Christian
   Originally a celebration
    of Spring but now
    associated with
   Easter is the story of
    Christs death.
   Chocolate eggs are
    given to children as a
    symbol of new life
When is Easter?

   Easter usually comes in the month of April. It
    is what is called a 'moveable feast' because
    the date of it is fixed according to the moon.
   Easter Sunday has to be the first Sunday
    following the full moon, after the Spring
    equinox (March 21)
   This means that Easter can fall as early as
    March 22 or as late as April 25.
May Day
   The first day of the month of
    May is known as May Day.
   It is the time of year when
    warmer weather begins and
    flowers and trees start to
   It is when people celebrate the
    coming of summer with lots of
    different customs that are
    expressions of joy and hope
    after a long winter.
Harvest Festival

   People in Britain have
    given thanks for
    successful harvests since
    pagan times.
   This is celebrated by
    singing, praying and
    decorating churches with
    baskets of fruit and food
   Usually during the month
    of September.
Remembrance Day (Poppy Day)

   Commemorates
    the end of World
    War 1
   Held on the 11th
    hour of the 11th
    day of the 11th
    month every year

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