UK holidays

The major holidays in Great Britain are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labour Day (May 1), Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Public holidays are called Bank Holidays, because on these days banks, most of the shops and offices are closed. The Bank Holidays were appointed by the Act of Parliament in 1871.

Christmas is celebrated by everyone on December 25. It is the most important festivarof the year. On Christmas people usually stay with their families. On Christmas Eve children hang stockings, at the ends of their beds waiting for Father Christmas to fill them with presents. Boxing Day, marked on December 26, is the day on which boxes of presents are given to the people who have given service during a year. New Year is marked in accordance with the family tradition and personal taste.

On Whit-Monday (the last Monday in May) and the first Monday in August all parks and holiday-places are crowded. In London some people go to Hampton Court Palace, to the Tower of London or to the Zoo.

But besides public holidays the British observe certain traditions on such days as Pancake Day, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night, April Fool's Day, Mother's Day, which unless they fall on Sunday are working days. Carnival-like celebrations were held in England on Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. Feasts of pancakes and much drinking followed the contests; one of them was all-over-town ball game. Today the only regularly observed custom is pancake eating. The first of April, known as April Fool's Day, is the day of jokes. For three centuries Mother's Day has been the day of family reunion. Atypical British festival takes place on November 5. On that day in 1605 Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He failed in doing so, but ever since the children of Britain every year, on "Guy Fawkes Night" make "guys" to burn on bonfires, and let off fireworks.

There are local festivals all through the year. Maypole, once a pagan spring festivals is celebrated at the beginning of summer with garlands and flowers, dancing and games on the village green. In autumn, people take vegetables and fruit to church for the Harvest Festival. Once a year Lord Mayor of London puts on a show and rides through the streets in the golden coach.