Christmas Traditions in the UK
Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. In the USA, Canada, Great Britain and in many of the European countries it is celebrated on the 25th of December. The British do not take as much notice of Christmas Eve (December 24) as people in other parts of Europe.
A Christmas tree is one of the main symbols of Christmas in most homes. People trim it with lights, tinsel, toys and coloured ornaments. Early Christmas trees were decorated with fruits, flowers and candles which were heavy on the tree branches. In the 1800’s German glass blowers began producing glass balls to replace the heavy decorations and called them bulbs.
tinsel – мишура
candle – свеча
glass blower – стеклодув
glass ball – стеклянный шар
bulb – 1)шарик, 2)эл.лампочка, 3)луковица
Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Every year since 1947 Oslo, the capital of Norway, has sent a Christmas tree to London as an expression of gratitude for the United Kingdom’s help in the World War II.
Houses are decorated with coloured paper ribbons and chains. Holly with red berries is put along the top of picture frames.
A piece of mistletoe is hung from the ceiling. Kissing under the mistletoe possibly began in old England. The Druids started it. They believed the mistletoe was sacred and therefore a charm against evil.
More facts about the magic powers of mistletoe are here.
ribbon – ленточка
paper chain – бумажная цепочка
holly – остролист
picture frame – фоторамка
mistletoe – омела
sacred – священное
charm – амулет, оберег
evil – зло
Carol singing is one of the oldest traditions in Great Britain, going back to the Middle Ages. Christmas carols are special songs about Jesus and the time when he was born. For example, everywhere in Britain church-goers and common people sing carols. Children wearing all sorts of costumes walk along the streets singing and dancing and giving little plays. For this people give them plenty of sweet things.
сarol – рождественский гимн, колядка
It is also a custom in England for everybody to send Christmas cards to their friends and relatives. The first commercial Christmas card was produced in Britain in 1843 by Henry Cole.
Another tradition is to give presents on the day after Christmas Day (on the 26th of December). It is called Boxing Day because at one time the presents were in boxes. It was started in the UK about 800 years ago during Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms boxes for the poor, often kept in churches were opened and the contents were distributed to poor people. The Romans were the first who brought this type of box to the UK, but they used them to collect money for the betting games which they played during their winter celebrations!
Now Boxing Day has become a public holiday in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Horse racing and football matches are extremely popular, especially in Great Britain. It is also a day when shops have big sales after Christmas in the UK (like Black Friday in the USA).
alms [ɑ:mz] box – коробка для пожертвований
to distribute – распределять
betting games – пари
On Christmas Eve everybody puts their presents under the Christmas tree.
Children hang up stockings on their beds. They believe that Santa Claus arrives at night and puts candy, fruits and other small gifts in their stockings.
The origin of hanging Christmas stockings comes to Great Britain from southern Europe. One legend says that an old man was in despair because he had no money for his daughter’s dowries. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the chimney, which happened to fall into a stocking hung up to dry.
dowry [´dauəri] – приданое
drop – уронить
chimney – труба, дымоход
stocking – чулок
gift – подарок
Traditional Christmas meal
The traditional Christmas meal is roast turkey or goose and a Christmas pudding.
Read the article «Christmas Pudding Story» to find out how to cook Christmas Pudding and where it comes from.
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