English Speaking Countries: Uk di Marilena Di Palma

- Festivals -


The following is only a brief list of the main festivals in Britain. For further information I suggest you visit the unit on British and American Festivals created by Silvia Montrucchio for Edurete.org.

February 14th

Usually on St. Valentine’s Day many people send a card to the person they are in love with and lovers exchange flowers and presents to show each other all their affection.


The last day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day). For Christian believers, Lent is a period fasting, following the example of Jesus who abstained from eating for 40 days. Though not many people fast today, some give up eating or drinking something they really like during this period. Shrove Tuesday is there fore the last day of enjoyment until Easter comes: during this day many British drink and eat whatever they want, especially pancakes.


Easter is a Christian festivity in which people celebrate Christ’s resurrection. On this day people give each other eggs, which are the symbols rebirth or a new life. The day after Easter, which is called Easter Monday, is a bank holiday . This means people do not have to work on that day.

April 1st

The first day of April is also called All Fools’ Day: this is the ideal period to make fun at someone or to play a joke. The purpose of this day is to have a good time and enjoy yourself as much as possible.

May 1st

On the first day of May, many British celebrate for two different reasons. The first is to celebrate the end of winter like the ancient pagans used to do. Some old pagan rites have survived to this day, though: one of this is to dance around a pole, intertwining coloured decorations with intricate moves.

The other reason to celebrate today is to stand up for workers’ rights, by making political demonstrations or gatherings.

October 31st

On this day British people celebrate Halloween, another ancient pagan festivity whose name probably means “holy evening”. This is supposed to be the only night of the year in which spirits, ghosts and al the supernatural forces can get in touch with the living. People celebrate having parties and dressing up in eccentric costumes. An old tradition is that of cutting horrible faces in emptied pumpkins, placing a candle inside them to scare evil spirits away.

November 5 th

This festivity dated back to the 17th century. On November 5 th 1605 Guy Fawkes, a Catholic conspirator against the Protestant monarchy, tried to blow up the Parliament in order to kill the king. But his he was eventually discovered and arrested. Today British people still celebrate Guy Fawkes Night [F1] with firework displays or bonfires. Usually at the top of these bonfires there is a dummy made of old clothes and paper which gets burned to commemorate the monarchy’s victory.

December 25th

Today British Christians celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, therefore lots of them go to church for the Midnight Mass, while carol-choruses go from door to door to sing old Christmas carols. This is probably the best time of the year for children, who are given a lot of presents by Santa Claus, or Father Christmas.

December 26th

The day following Christmas day is a bank holiday. It is called Boxing Day [F1] because in the past servants and attendants were given boxes or presents on this day, after having worked during the whole Christmas period.

December 31st

The last day of the year is called New Year’s Eve: people wait for the new year to come and celebrate it by singing old hymns and songs such as Auld Lang Syne. Another tradition is that of making a list of the New Year Resolutions, in which everyone tries to commit oneself to be a better person for the next year.

Auld Lang Syne : Lyrics

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne.

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.



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