In London on 1st January’s Eve, a lot of people go to Trafalgar Square and celebrate. People all over Britain have parties in their houses, too. The TV and radio stations have special allnight party music and broadcast Big Ben when it strikes twelve. When people hear it they drink a toast to the New Year. There is also a tradition called first-footing – a tall dark man must be the first person to come into the house after midnight. He must carry a piece of coal.
The British can be romantic! On 14th February they send romantic cards to people they like or love, Boys and girls also send cards to their parents. The cards are not signed and you must guess who sent them.
Who was Guy Fawkes? He and his friends put a bomb under the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605 and tried to kill the king. They failed, but people still celebrate this date with barbecues, fireworks and big bonfires. On top of the bonfires they put a man made of old clothes and newspapers — this is the ‘Guy’.
In March or April people have a public holiday to celebrate Easter. On the Sunday some people go to church, and most people spend the day with the family. People usually give presents of chocolate eggs, especially to children, and they can send greetings cards with pictures of eggs, rabbits and lambs, flowers etc.
25th December is Christmas Day, a traditional family day. British children believe that Father Christmas brings them presents. He comes down the chimney on the night of 24th December and puts his presents in a stocking. Children leave him cakes and a drink. All the family open their presents in the morning, then they eat Christmas dinner (roast turkey, roast potatoes and Christmas pudding) and Christmas crackers. At three o’clock in the afternoon the Queen reads her message on TV. Other traditions are Christmas cards, a Christmas tree, carol-singing (door-to-door singing of Christmas songs), and decorations.
Christmas Cracker: a cardboard tube wrapped in coloured paper containing a small present, a paper hat and a joke. Two people pull them apart, each holding one end and the tubes make an explosion as they break.
Fireworks: small colourful containers filled with an explosive chemical powder that burn or explode with bangs and coloured lights.
Bonfire: a large fire made in the open air to burn things.
Drink a toast: to hold up a glass before drinking in order to wish good luck or success.
Father Christmas: an old man with a red coat and a long white beard, also named Santa Claus. He is supposed to live Lapland or the North Pole where he spends most of the year in his workshop making toys for children. He files in the sky in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
Source: Excursion, an old Italian book.