There are many customs and traditions in England. And I would like to
tell you some of them. First tradition is called "Wrong side of the bed"
When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed
on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People
believe that the way they rose inthe morning affected their behavior
throughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The
left always having beenlinked with evil. Second custom is called
"Blowing out the candles" The custom of having candles on birthday cakes
goes backto the ancient Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the
moon and hunting, used to place honey cakes on the altars of her temples
on her birthday. The cakes were round like the full moon and lit with
tapers. This custom was next recorded in the middle ages when German
peasants lit tapers on birthday cakes, the number lit indicating the
person's age, plus an extra one to represent the light of life. From
earliest days burning tapers had been endued with mystical significance
and it was believedthat when blown out they had the power to grant a
secret wish and ensure a happy year ahead. And the last tradition I
would like to tell you is called "The 5th of November". On the 5th of
November in almost every own and village in England you will see
fireburning, fireworks, cracking and lighting up the sky. You will see
too small groups of children pulling round in a home made cart, a figure
that looks something like a man but consists of an old suit of clothes,
stuffed with straw. The children will sing: «Remember, remember the 5th
of November; Gun powder, treason and plot". And they will ask passers-by
for "a penny for the Guy" But the children with "the Guy" are not likely
to know who or whatday they are celebrating. They have done this more or
less every 5th of November since 1605. At that time James the First was
onthe throne. He was hated with many people especially the Roman
Catholics against whom many sever laws had been passed. A number of
Catholics chief of whom was Robert Catesby determined to kill the King
and his ministers by blowing up the house of Parliament with gunpowder.
To help them in this they got Guy Fawker, a soldier of fortune, who
would do the actual work. The day fixedfor attempt was the 5th of
November, the day on which the Parliament was to open. But one of the
consperators had several friends in the parliament and he didn't want
them to die. So hewrote a letter to Lord Monteagle begging him to make
some excuse to be absent from parliament if he valued his life. Lord
Monteagle took the letter hurrily to the King. Guards were sent at once
to examine the cellars of the house of Parliament. And there they found
Guy Fawker about to fire a trail of gunpowder. He was tortured and
hanged, Catesby was killed, resisting arrest in his own house. In memory
of that day bonfires are stilllighted, fireworks shoot across the
November sky and figures of Guy Fawker are burnt in the streets.
So many countries so many customs, an English proverb says. The
combination of the words tradition & custom means a usual manner of
doing smth, a believe of principal, of conduct passed on from generation
to generation. English traditions can be subdivided into the traditions
dealing with private life of the English national & religious holidays,
public celebrations, traditional ceremonies & traditional sporting
events. A great number of customs & traditions date back to the early
days of GB & we can justly say that they are the reflection of the
country"s history & the peoples phyhology. To know the customs &
traditions means to understand the people, their art & culture better.
In the matter of holidays the British are less well off than other
Europeans. They have such holidays celebrated: New Years Day, Good
Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, Summer Bank
Holiday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day.
The British have many traditions, manners & customs of which they can be
proud. England has preserved it"s old ceremonies & traditions to a
greater extend than any other country in the world. Most of this
traditions have been kept up without interruption since the thirteenth
century. Foreigners coming to England are impressed by a great number of
ceremonies which seem to be incompatible with the modern traffic &
technical conditions of a highly developed country. These impressive &
colorful ceremonies as the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace
every day, the formal display as the ceremony of keys which takes place
every night, the ceremony of Trooping the Color taking place annually in
London on the Official Birthday of the Sovereign are indeed very
striking. Some festivals are connected with the names of writers & poets
or some great Englishmen such as Churls Dickens, W. Shakespeare, Byron
or Robin Hood. It"s impossible to say about all English traditions, but
we can"t but mention the traditions connected with celebrating Cristmas,
St. Valentine"s Day, Halloween, Guy Flakes Night, Hogmany & First
Footing & of course the tradition of drinking much strong tea. But I"d
like to speak about Hogmany & First Footing. At midnight on the 31 of
December throughout GB people celebrate the ceremony of the New Year.
New Year"s Eve is more important festival in Scotland than it is in
England & it even has a special name. It is nit clear where the word
Hogmany came from, but it is connected with the provision of Food &
Drink for all visitors to your home on the 31 of December. It was
believed that the first person to visit one"s house on New Year"s Day
could bring good or bad luck. Therefore people tried to arrange for the
person of their own choice to be standing outside their houses ready to
be let in the monument the midnight had come. Usually a dark
complexioned man was chosen & never a woman for she could bring bad
Some British customs and traditions are famous all over the world.
Bowler hats, tea and talking about the weather, for example. But what
about the others? Who was Guy Fawkes? Why does the Queen have two
birthdays? And what is the word "pub" short for?
From Scotland to Cornwall, Britain is full of customs and traditions. A
lot of them have very long histories. Some are funny and some are
strange. But they're all interesting. There are all the traditions of
British sport and music. There's the long menu of traditional British
food. There are many royal occasions. There are songs, sayings and
superstitions. They are all part of the British way of life.
A year in Britain
The Shetlands are islands near Scotland. In the ninth centurv, men from
Norway came to the Shetlands. These were the Vikings. They came to
Britain in ships and carried away animals, gold, and sometimes women and
Now, 1 ,OOO years later, people in the Shetlands remember the Vikings
with a festival. Fhey call the festival "Up-Helly-Aa".
Every winter the people of Lerwick, a town in the Shetlands, make a
model of a ship. It's a Viking "long-ship", with the head of a dragon at
the front. Then, on Up-Helly-Aa night in January, the Shetlanders dress
in Viking clothes. They carry the ship through the town to the sea.
There they burn it. They do this because the Vikings put their dead men
in ships and burned them. But there aren't any men in the modern ships.
Now the festival is a party for the people of the Shetland Islands.
St Valentine's Day
St Valentine is the saint of people in love, and St Valentine's Day is
February 14th. On that day, people send Valentine cards and presents to
their husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. You can also send a
card to a person you don't know. But traditionally you must never write
your name on it. Some British newspapers have a page for Valentine's Day
messages on Februarv 14th.
St David's Day
March 1st is a very important day for Welsh people. It's St David's Day.
He's the "patron" or national saint of Wales.
On March 1st, the Welsh celebrate St David's Day and wear daffodils in
the buttonholes of their coats or jackets.
April Fool's Day
April 1st is April Fool's Day in Britain. This is a very old tr~dition
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's a day for jokes and tricks.
May 1st was an important day in the Middle Ages. In the very early
morning, young girls went to the fields and washed their faces with dew.
They believed this made them very beautiful for a year affer that. Also
on May Day the young men of each village tried to win prizes with their
bows and arrows, and people danced round the maypole.
Many English-villages still have a maypole, and on May 1st, the
villagers dance round it. You can see one in the picture below.
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.
Stonehenge is one of Europe's biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones
are ten or twelve metres high. It's also very old. The earliest part of
Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old.
But what was Stonehenge? A holy place? A market? Or was it a kind of
calendar? We think the Druids used it for a calendar. The Druids were
the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. 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's just a strange old custom.
October 31st is Hallowe'en, and you can expect to meet witches and
ghosts that night. Hallowe'en is an old word for "Hallows Evening", the
night before "All Hallows" or "All Saints' Day"
On thai one night of the year, ghosts and witches are free. Well, that's
the traditional story. A long time ago people were afraid and stayed at
home on Hallowe'en. But now in Britain its a time for fun. There are
always a lot of parties on October 31st. At these parties people wear
masks and they dress as ghosts and witches, or as Dracula or
Frankenstein's monster. And some people make special Hallowe'en lamps
Irom a large fruit the pumpkin.
First they take out the middle of the pumpkin. Ihen they cut holes for
the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally they put a candle inside the pumpkin.
Guy Fawkes' Day
November 5th is Guy Faw kes Day in Britain. All over the country people
build wood fires or “bonfires”, in their gardens. On top of each bonfire
is a guy. That's a figure of Guy Fawkes. People make guys with straw,
old clothes and newspapers. But before November 5th, children use their
guys to make money They stand in the street and shout "Penny for the
guy". Then they spend the money on fireworks. But how did this tradition
start? Who was Guy Fawkes and why do the British remember him on
On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to kill King James I. He and a
group of friends put a bomb under the Houses of Parliament in London.
But the King's men found the bomb and they found Guy Fawkes, too. They
took him to the Tower of London and there the King's men cut off his
Christmas and the New Year
There are lots of Christmas and New Year traditions in Britain.
London's Ghristmas decorations Every year the people 9f Norway give the
city of London a present.. It's a big Christmas tree and it stands in
Trafalgar Square. Also in central London, Oxford Street and Regent
Street always have beautiful decorations at Christmas. Thousands of
people come to look at them.
Cards, trees and mistletoe In 1846 the first Christmas cards began in
Britain. That was five years after the first Christmas tree. Queen
Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought this German tradition (he was
German) to Britain. He and the Queen had a Christmas tree at Windsor
Castle in 1841. A few years after, nearly every house in Britain had
Traditionally people decorate their trees on Christmas Eve - that's
December 24th. They take down the decorations twelve days later, on
Twelfth Night (January 5th).
An older tradition is Christmas mistletoe. People put a piece of this
green plant with its white berries over a door. Mistletoe brings good
luck, people say. Also, at Christmas British people kiss their friends
and family under the mistletoe.
Before Christmas, groups of singers go from house to house. They collect
money and sing traditional Christmas songs or carols. There are a lot of
very popular British Christmas carols. Three fanous ones are:
"Good King Wenceslas", "The Holly and The Ivy" and "We Three Kings".
British children don't open their presents on December 24th. Father
Christmas brings their presents in the night. Then they open them on the
morning of the 25th.
There's another name for Father Christmas in Britain - Santa Claus. That
comes from the European name for him - Saint Nicholas. In the
traditional story he lives at the North Pole. But now he lives in big
shops in towns and cities all over Britain. Well, that's where children
see him in November and
December. Then on Christmas Eve he visits every house. He climbs down
the chimney and leaves lots of presents. Some people leave something for
him, too. A glass of wine and some biscuits, for example.
In Britain the most important meal on December 25th is
Christmas dinner. Nearly all Christmas food is traditional, but a lot of
the traditions are not very old. For example, there were no turkeys in
Britain before 1800. And even in the nineteenth century, goose was the
traditional meat at Christmas. But not now.
A twentieth-century British Christmas dinner is roast turkey with
carrots, potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts and gravy. There are sausages
and bacon too. Then, after the turkey, there's Christmas pudding. You
can read about that in the chapter on food.
Crackers are also usual at Christmas dinner. These came to Britain from
China in the nineteenth century. Two people pull a cracker. Usually
there's a small toy in the middle. Often there's a joke on a piece of
paper, too. Most of the jokes in Christmas crackers are not very good.
Here's an example:
CUSTOMER: Waiter, there's a frog in my soup.
WAITER: Yes, sir, the fly's on holiday.
December 26th is Boxing Day. Traditionally boys from the shops in each
town asked for money at Christmas. They went from house to house on
December 26th and took boxes made of wood with them. At each house
people gave them money. This was a Christmas present. So the name of
December 26th doesn't come from the sport of boxing - it comes from the
boys' wooden boxes. Now, Boxing Day is an extra holiday after Christmas
First Footing In Scotland the name for New Year's Eve is Hogmanay. Affer
midnight people visit their friends. And they take a present - a piece
of coal. Why? Because traditionally the first visitor of the year~must
carry coal into the house. This is "first footing". It brings good luck.
It also helps to make a fire in the middle of winter.
New Year Resolutions What are your worst faults? Do you want to change
Britain a lot of people make New Year Resolutions on the evening of
December 31st. For example, "I'll get up early every morning next ~ or
''I'll clean my shoes every day.'' But there's a problem. Most people
forget their New Year Resolutions on January 2nd.
THE TROOPING OF THE COLOUR
The Queen is the only person in Britain with two birthdays. Her real
birthday is on April 21st, but she has an "official" birthday, too.
That's on the second Saturday in June. And on the Queen's official
birthday, there is a traditional ceremony called the Trooping of the
Colour. It's a big parade with brass bands and hundreds of soldiers at
Horse Guards' Parade in London. A "regiment" of the Queen's soldiers,
the Guards, march in front of her. At the front of the parade is the
regiment's flag or "colour".
The Guards are trooping the colour. Thousands of Londoners and visitors
watch in Horse Guards' Parade. And millions of people at home watch it
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
This happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's home in London.
Soldiers stand in front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers (the
"guard") change. One group leaves and another arrives. In summer and
winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11.30 every morning and
watch the Changing of the Guard.
Maun4y Thursday is the day before Good Friday, at Easter. On that day
the Queen gives Maundy money to a group of old people. This tradition is
over 1,000 years old. At one time the king or queen washed the feet of
poor, old pedple on Maundy Thursday. That stopped in 1754.
Here's a very different royal tradition. On the River Thames there are
hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birds belong,
traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on the
Thames are about two months old. Then the Queen's swan keeper goes, in a
boat, from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and
marks the royal ones. The name of this strange but interesting custom is
THE QUEEN'S TELEGRAM
This custom is not very old, but it's for very old people. On his or her
one hundredth birthday, a British person gets a telegram from the Queen.
THE BIRTHDAY HONOURS LIST AND THE NEW
YEAR'S HONOURS LIST
Twice a year at Buckingham Palace, the Queen gives titles or
"honours", once in January and once in June. There are a lot of
different honours. Here are a few:
C.B.E. - Companion of the British Empire
O.B.E. - Order of the British Empire
M.B.E. - Member of the British Empire
(These honours began in the nineteenth century. Then Britain
had an empire.)
Knighthood- a knight has "Sir" before his name. A new knight kneels in
front of the Queen. She touches first his right shoulder, then his left
shoulder with a sword. Then she says "Arise, Sir. . . [his first name]",
and the knight stands.
Peerage - a pee~ is a lord. Peers sit in the House of Lords. That's one
part of the Houses of Parliament. The other part is the House of
Commons. Peers call the House of Commons "another place".
Dame/Baroness - these are two of the highest honours for a woman.
THE STATE OPENING OF PARLlAMENT
Parliament, not the Royal Family, con~ro1s modern Britain. But
traditionally the Queen opens Parliament every autumn.
She travels from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of
Parliament in a gold carriage - the Irish State Coach. At the
Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a “throne” in the
House of Lords. Then she reads the “Queen's Speech”. At
State Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown She
wears other jewels from the Crown Jewels, too.
THE ORDER OF THE GARTER CEREMONY
The Order of the Garter ceremony has a long history. King Edward III
started the Order in the fourteenth centur', that time, the people in
the Order were the twent', four bravest knights inEngland. Now the
knights of thc Order aren't all soldiers. They're members of the House
of Lords, church leaders or politicians. There are some foreign knights,
too. For example, the King of Norway, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and
the Emperor of Japan. They're called Extra Knights of the Garter. The
Queen is the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. But she isn't the
only royal person in the Order. Prince Charles and Prince Philip are
Royal Knights, and the Queen Mother is a Lady of the Garter.
In June the Order his a traditional ceremony at Windsor Castle. This is
the Queen's favourite castle. It's also the home of the Order ~ the
Garter. All the knights walk from the castle to St George's Chapel. the
royal church at Windsor. They wear the traditional Clt)thCS or "robes"
of the Order. These robes are verv heavv. In tact King Edward VIII once
called them 'ridiculous". But they're an important part of one ot
Britain's oldest traditions.
THE QUEEN'S CHRISTMAS SPEECH
Now here's a modern royal custom. On Christmas Day at 3.00 in the
afternoon the Queen makes a speech on radio and TV. It's ten minutes
long. In it she talks to the people of the United Kingdom and the
Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a large group of countries. In the
past they were all in the British Empire. Australia, India, Canada and
New Zealand are among the 49 members.
The B.B.C. (the British Broadcasting Corporation) sends the Queen's
speech to every Commonwealth countrv. In her speech the Queen talks
about the past year. Traditionallv in speeches, kings or queens say “we”
not “I” Queen Elizabeth II doesn't do this. She says “My husband and I”
or just 'I''.
The Queen doesn't make her speech on Christrnas Day. She films it a few
weeks before. Then she spends Christmas with her familY at Windsor. Does
she watch the speech on TV? Nobody knows.
Songs, sayings and superstitions
There are thousands of traditional songs and sayings in English. Many of
them tell stones about British historv. For example, here's one about
the Great Plague.
A pocket full of posies
We all fall down.
The Great Plague was an illness and it killed millions of people in
Europe in the seventeenth century. One of the signs of the illness was j
circle of red marks. Thev looked like roses, and that explains the first
line of the song. In the second line, "posies" are small bunches of
flowers. People carried flowers because of the smell of the Plague.
"A-tishoo" is the sound of a sneeze. That was another sign of the
Plague. Then, after a few days, people "fell down" or died.
How many of these traditional songs do you know?
Happy Birthday To You - You sing this song at birthday parties. People
all over the world sing it.
Auld Lang Syne - This is a song from Scotland. Most people only sing it
once a year, on New Year's Eve. "Auld Lang Syne" means "a long time
ago". The song says, "we must never forget old friends".
God Save The Queen - This is Britain's national song or "anthem."
Do vou believe in good luck and bad luck? Most people in the world have
some superstitions. These are a few British superstitions with long
-Black cats are lucky
-Clover is a small plant. Usually it has three leaves, but a few have
four. A clover with four leaves brings good luck.
-A horseshoe over the door of a new home brings good luck. But the
horseshoe must be the right way up. l~he luck runs out of a horseshoe if
it's upside down.
-On the first day of the month it's lucky to say 'White rabbits".
-It's good luck to see two magpies (large black and white birds).
-Catch falling leaves in autumn and you'll have good luck. Everv leaf
means a lucky month in the next year.
-Never open an umbrella in the house. That's very bad luck. Never break
a mirror - that means seven years' bad luck. It's bad luck to see just
-Don't walk under a ladder.
-Don't walk past soinchody on the stairs.
-The number thirteen i~ very unlucky (and Friday the 13th is a "cry
Here are ten British “proverbs” or sayings.
1. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
You have to try or you won't get anything.
2. One man's meal is another man's poison.
People often don't like the same things.
3. The other man's grass is a/way's greener.
You always think that other people's lives are better than yours.
4. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Don't question good luck.
5.Every cloud has a si/z'er lining.
There's always some thing good in bad times.
6. It's no use crying over spilt milk. Don't be too sad after a small
7. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. From one problem to another.
8. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Stupid people do things that other people never do.
9. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
You can give a person a chance, but you can't make him or her take it.
10. A stitch in time saves nine.
Act early and you can save a lot of trouble.
Food and drink
THE ENGLISH BREAKFAST
In a real English breakfast you have fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato
and mushrooms. Then there's toast and marmalade. There's an interesting
story about the word "marmalade". It may come from the French "Marie est
malade", or "Mary is ill." That's because a seventeenth-century Queen of
Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots, liked it. She always asked for French
orange jam when she was ill.
British people eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in February or March. For
pancakes you need flour, eggs and milk. Then you eat them with sugar and
lemon. In some parts of Britain there are pancake races on Shrove
Tuesday. People race with a frying pan in one hand. They have to "toss"
the pancake, throw it in the air and catch it again in the frying pan.
ROAST BEEF AND YORKSHIRE PUDDING
This is the traditional Sunday lunch from Yorkshire in the north of
England. It is now popular all over Britain. Yorkshire pudding is not
sweet. It's a simple mixture of eggs, flour and milk, but it's
Two common vegetables with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding are Brussels
sprouts and carrots. And of course there's always gravy. That's a thick,
brown sauce. You make gravy with the juice from the meat.
Haggis is a tradinonal food from Scotland. You make it with meat,
onions, flour, salt and pepper. Then you boil it in the skin from a
sheep's stomach - yes, a sheep's stomach.
In Scotland, people eat haggis on Burns Night. Robert Burns (Scots
people call him "Rabbie" Burns), was a Scottish poet in the eighteenth
century. Every year Scots people all over the world remember him and
read his poems.
Tea is Britain's favourite drink. It's also a meal in the afternoon. You
can eat tea at home or in a hotel. Tea at the Ritz hotel in London is
very good. You can drink Indian or China tea. There are cucumber
sandwiches and scones. (Scones are plain cakes. You eat them with jam
and cream.) There are chocolate cakes and cream cakes too.
Some people make this pudding months before Christmis.
A lot of families have thcir own Christmas pudding recipe~.
Some, for example, use a lot of brandy. Others put in a lot of
fruit or add a silver coin for good luck.
Real Christmas puddings always have a piece of holly on the top. Holly
bushes and trees have red berries at Chris~mas-ume, and so people use
holly to decorate their houses for Christmas. The holly on the pudding
is part of the decoration. Also, you can pour brandy over the pudding
and light it with a match.
HOT CROSS BUNS
The first Christians in Rome made hot cross buns two thousand years ago.
But now they're an Easter tradition in Britain. Here's a storv about hot
cross buns. In 1800 a widow lived in a house in East London. Her only
son was a sailor and went to sea. Everv vear she made hot cross buns and
kept one for him. He never came back, but she kept a bun for him every
year. Then, after many, years, she died. Now, her house is a pub. It's
called 'The Widow's Son". For a long time people remembered the widow.
Every Easter they put a hot cross bun in a special basket in the pub.
Now the tradition is different. The owner of the pub sells the special
hot cross bun. Then he gives the money to the British Sailors' Societv.
Pubs are an important part of British life. People talk, eat, drink,
meet their friends and relax there. They are open at lunchtime and again
in the evening. But they close at 11.00 (10.30 on Sundays). This
surprises a lot of tourists. But vou can always go to Scotland - the
pubs close later there!
The word "pub" is short for "public house". There are thousands in
Britain, and they nearly all sell pub lunches. One of these is a
Ploughman's Lunch a very simple meal. It's ust bread and cheese.
Pubs also sell beer. (British beer is always warm.) The traditional kind
is called “real ale”. That’s a very strong beer from an old recipe.
An important custom in pubs is 'buying a. round". In a group, one person
buys all the others a drink. This is a "round". Then one by one all the
other people but rounds, too.
If they are with friends, British people sometimes lift their glasses
before they drink and sav "Cheers This means "Good luck".
In the pubs in south-west Lngland there~s another traditional drink -
scrumpy. You make scrumpy with apples, but it's not a simple fruit
juice. It's very very strong.
Pub names often have a long tradition. ,",;()me come from the thirteenth
or fourteenth centurv.
Every pub has a name and every pub has a sign above its door. The sign
shows a picture of the pub's name.
It's traditional in Britain to wear your country's emblem on its saint's
day. The leek doesn't go in a buttonhole, so the Welsh often wear a
daffodil. These are Britain's patron saints and their days.
England - St George - April 23rd. Ireland - Si Patrick - March 17th.
Scotland - St Andrew - November 30th. Wales - St David - March 1st.
The Scots, Welsh and English don't really celebrate their national
saint's days. But St Patrick's Day is important for Irish people all
over the world. In New York, for example, the Irish people always have a
big St Patrick's Day parade.
Costumes and clothes
Many British costumes and uniforms have a long history. One is the
uniform of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London. (See the picture on
page 45.) This came first from France. Another is the uniform of the
Horse Guards at Horse Guards' Parade, not far from Buckingham Palace.
Thousands of visitors take photographs of the Horse Guards, but the
Guards never move or smile. In fact some visitor~ think the Guards
aren't real. And that brings us to...Britannia. She wears traditional
clothes, too. But she’s not a real person. She is symbol of Britain.
Lots of ordinary clothes have a long tradition. The famous bowler hat,
for example. A man called Beaulieu made the first one in 1850.
The very cold winters in the Crimea in the war of 1853-56 gave us the
names of the cardigan and the balaclava. Lord Cardigan led the Light
Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava (1854). A "cardigan" is now a warm
woollen short coat with buttons, and a "balaclava" is a woollen hat.
Another British soldier, Wellington, gave his name to a pair of boots.
They have a shorter name today - "Wellies".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's
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's
also a "cox". The cox controls the boat. Traditionally coxes are men,
f but Susan Brown became the first woman cox in 1981. She was the cox
for Oxford and they won.
Ascot is a small, quiet town in the south of England. But in June for
one week it becomes the centre of the horse-racing world. It's called
Royal Ascot because the Queen always goes to Ascot. She has a lot of
racehorses and likes to watch racing. But Ascot week isn't just for
horseracing. It's for fashion, too. One woman, Mrs Gertrude Shilling,
always wears very big hats. You can see the racecourse in the picture
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 don't have
wear long trousers.
But other traditions haven't changed at Wimbledon. The courts are still
grass, and visitors still eat strawberries arid cream. The language of
tennis hasn't changed either. Did you know that "love" (zero) comes from
"l'oeuf" (the egg) in French?
THE LONDON TO BRIGHTON VINTAGE CAR RALLY "Vintage" cars have to be.
more than fifty years old and ~ in very good condition.
of people keep or collect vintage cars. And on the first Sunday in
November there's a race or "Tally" for them. It starts in London and it
finishes in Brighton, a town on the south coast of England. That's a
distance of seventy kilometres.
Before 1896 a man with a red flag had to walk in front of cars. In 1896
that changed. A group of happy drivers broke their flags and drove to
Brighton. There they had a party. Now the rally is a sporting tradition.
A lot of the people in the rally wear "vintage" clothes, too. In a 1910
car, for example, the driver and passengers wear 1910 hats and coats.
BOXING DAY HUNTS ~
Traditionally Boxing Day is a day for foxhunting. The huntsmen and
huntswomen ride horses. They use dogs, too. The dogs (fox hounds) follow
the smell of the fox. Then the huntsmen and huntswomen follow the
Before a Boxing Day hunt, the huntsmen and huntswomen drink hot wine.
But the tradition of the December 26th hunt is changing. Now, some
people want to stop Boxing Day hunts (and other hunts, too'). They don't
like foxhunting. For them it's not a sport - it's cruel.
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 at 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're not all the same. Each clan has a
different "tartan". That's the name for the pattern on the kilt. So at
the Highland Games there are traditional sports and traditional clothes.
And there's traditional music, too, from Scotland's national instrument
-the bagpipes. The bagpipes are very loud. They say Scots soldiers
played them before a battle. The noise frightened the soldiers on the
THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH
The grouse is a small bird. It lives in the north of England and in
Scotland. It tastes very good. But people can't shoot grouse all the
time. They can only shoot them for a few months of the year. And the
first day ofthe grouse "season" is August 12th. On that day, "the
glorious twelfth", hunters send their grouse to London restaurants.
There, people wait for the first grouse of the year. But there's good
news for the grouse, too - the season ends on December 10th each year!
Do you like classical music? Every summer in London there
are two months of special concerts at the Royal Albert Hall
These are the "Proms". Sir Henry Wood started the Proms
(short for "promenade" concerts) in the nineteenth century
Now they're a tradition in British musical life.
A lot of young people go to the Proms. They buy cheap tickets and stand
up for the concerts. They are the "promenaders". There are seats too,
but the tickets for those cost more.
The music at the Proms comes from some of the best singers and
orchestras in the world. And on the last night there's a big party at
the Royal Albert Hall. People bring balloons and paper hats. The
orchestra plays popular classical music and at the end everyone sings
THEATRE TRADITIONS j
Actors have lots of traditions and superstitions. For example, you don't
say "good luck" to an actor. You say "break a leg It's strange but true.
"Good luck" is bad luck. Also, actors never say the name of
Shakespeare's famous play "Macbeth". They always call it "The Scottish
Play". In theatres the name Macbeth brings bad luck.
A third tradition is about whistling. You must never whistle in a
theatre dressing room. Someone who whistles must go out of the room and
turn around three times. Only affer that, can they knock on the door and
come in again.
THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL &/ ~/'
Every August, Edinburgh in Scotland has the biggest art festival in
Europe. ~~here are plays, concerts and exhibitions from countries all
over the world. That's the "official" festival. But there's an
"unofficial" festival, too. This is called the Edinburgh "Fringe". At
the Fringe, visitors can see cheaper concerts and plays by students.
Pantomimes are traditional British plays. Thev are for children, and you
Sec ihem at Christmas. Some famous pantomimes are: Ci~zJereila, Aladdin,
Peter Pa~i and Babes in the W'ood. A lot ~if these stories are very old.
In pantomime there's alwavs a young hero. He's the Principal Boy, but
the actor is usuallv a woman. ~1so, there's al'vays a lu nny, old woman.
~",~he's the l~~ntomime
Dame, but the a~:~ s a man.
An l.i~tcddfod is an arts festival in Wale.~. People sing and read their
poetry in the Welsh language. l~he Welsh name for the~e poets is
"bards". People also play music. ~'he harp is very p~)pular in Wales.
You can always hear harp music at an Eisteddfod. But Eisteddfods aren't
lust festivals. Thev're also competitions to find the best singers,
musicians and poets in Wales.
Britain~s capital city is full of traditions and customs. Here's a
gui(ie to just a few of them. (There is a map of London on
THE LORD MAYOR'S SHOW
Every year there's a new Lord Mayor of London. The Mayor is the city's
traditional k~ader. And ~e se(ond Saturday in November is always the day
for the Lord M~vor's Show. This cercnionv is over six hundred years old.
It's also London's biggest parade.
The Lord Mayor drives to the Royal Courts of Justice (near Fleet Street)
in a coach. The coach is two hundred years old. It's red and gold and it
has six horses. You can see it in the picture above.
There's also a big parade. People make special costumes and act stories
from London's history.
THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
This 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, Notting Hill is the West
Indies. There's West Indian food and music in the streets. There's also
a big parade and people dance day and night.
PEARLY KINGS AND QUEENS
Londoners from the east of the citv are "Cockneys". There are a lot of
traditional Cockney expressions. For example, Cockneys don't say
"stairs' - they say "apples and pears". And they don't sav "face" - they
say "boat race". This is Cockney rhyming slang.
The Cocknevs have kings and queens~ 100 - the 'pearly" kings and queens.
~~hey wear speLial costumes on important days. Each ~ostume has
thousands of pearl buttons.
THE TOWER OF LONDON
William the Conqueror and his army landed in England from France in the
year 1066. In 1078 he started to build ~e Tower of London. Now, nine
hundred years later, this famous castle is full of history and
The guards at the Tower are called Beefeaters. Uheir name comes from a
French word - boufitiers. Boufitiers were guards in the palaces of
French kings. They proiceted the king's food.
You will see some large, black birds at the ~~ower of London. Fliese are
the ravens at the Tower. Ra\'ens have lived al the Tower of London for
hundreds of vears.
People go to see the Beefeaters and the ravens, but that's not all.
Visitors to the Tower go to see the Crown Jewel.~ too. ~~hcre are eight
crowns. There are also a lot of other verv famous jewels in the jewel
room. In fact the Crown Jewels arc the biggest tourist attraction in
In the evening there is another old custom at the l~ower of London - the
Ceremony of the Keys. At 9.53 exactly, the Beefeaters close the Tower.
Then at 10.00 they give the keys to the Governor of th~ Tower. That's
because a long time ago ~e Tower of London was a prison for important
Anne Boleyn (Henry Viii's second wife), Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes,
and many others.