British Year: Festivals and Holidays
The Thames runs in a straight line for over two kilometers and makes it an ideal place for rowing. 3. Over the last weekend in August there is a big carnival at (9) the Notting Hill in west London. People who take part in it dress up in fabulous costumes. Steel bands play African and Caribbean dance music and people dance and blow whistles. It is the biggest carnival outside Brazil. 4. (10) The Proms – this is a popular series of classical music concerts held in late August. The season lasts 7 weeks but most of the people like to go to the Last Night of the Proms.
Most of the concerts are performed at the (11) Royal Albert Hall. The last song of the programme is (12 Land of Hope and Glory, a patriotic song, sung by performers and people in the hall while waving Union Jacks. 5. (13) Harvest Festival is a very old festival, dating from pre-Christian times but nowadays celebrated by Christians.
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Each October, the churches — particularly in the countryside — are decorated with flowers, fruit, vegetables and other crops, and the local people come to give thanks for the successful completion of the harvest. 6.
The name of this pagan holiday, (14) Halloween, comes from “the eve of All (15) Hallows”, also known in the Christian calendar as (16) All Saints . According to folklore, on this night — 31 October — the souls of the dead come back to visit places they used to live in. These days, people dress up as witches, ghosts or anything scary. Houses are decorated with pumpkins with candles put inside. Groups of children also play (17) “trick-or-treat” on their neighbours, going from door to door and playing a harmless but slightly unpleasant trick on anyone who refuses to give them a sweet or other gift, like squirting water in your face. . In 1605 a group of Catholic conspirators, led by (18) Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Protestant Parliament of King James I. They succeeded in hiding 36 (19) barrels of gunpowder in the building, but on 5 November the so-called (20) “Gunpowder Plot” was discovered. Fawkes and his associates were caught and later burnt at the (21) … . An old children’s rhyme runs: Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder, (22) treason and plot! I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot! Children make a “guy” — an (23) effigy of Guy Fawkes — and burn it on a bonfire, and let off (24) fireworks.
Because of recent concern about the dangers of bonfires and fireworks, most local communities now hold large, organized parties on (25) Bonfire Night, or (26) Guy Fawkes’ Night, with the children being kept at a safe distance. 8. (27) Remembrance Sunday is celebrated on the second Sunday in November and commemorates the dead of both World Wars and of more recent conflicts. On and before this day, money is collected in the street on behalf of charities for ex-servicemen and women. The people who donate money are given paper poppies to pin to their clothes. No politician would be seen on this day without a poppy! . (28) Pantomimes are plays put on before Christmas, usually for children. They are based on fairy tales, such as Cinderella or Aladdin, and mix comedy, song and dance. 10. Most people in Britain see (29) Christmas as the major festival of the year — an occasion for parties, giving and receiving gifts, eating and drinking, and generally having fun. The many non-religious traditions associated with Christmas are in fact not very old, dating back only to the 19th century. These are mostly for children. On Christmas Eve, children hang stockings at the end of their beds or over the fireplace.
They are told that Father Christmas, or (30) Santa Claus, arrives at night from the North Pole on his flying sleigh pulled by reindeer, climbs down the (31) chimney and fills each stocking with presents. On Christmas they wake up early to find full stockings and other presents arranged around the Christmas tree. Lunch is the most important point of Christmas Day. The traditional lunch consists of (32) roast turkey with roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts, followed by Christmas pudding, which is made with dried fruit and (33) brandy , with hard white icing on the top.
Sometimes a (34) coin is put in the pudding as a surprise. The day after Christmas Day is called (35) Boxing Day (probably after the (36) stake box which was opened for the poor on that day) and this too is a public holiday. Some people, however, argue that on such days landowners and householders would present their tenants and servants with gifts – in boxes! Religious observance has declined in Britain, but many people still go to church at Christmas — to a (37) midnight mass on Christmas Eve or to a morning (38) service on Christmas Day.