Monday, 3 October 2011

England through the eyes of an American - Holidays

After 9 years Im not really sure where to start. I have been trying to decide what to share with you first. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Holiday Traditions here in the UK.

Of course we have standard "Bank Holidays" here. But some of the things celebrated are not actual holidays. So Im going to share a mix of my favorite "Official" Holidays and "Unofficial" Holidays.

One of my first favorites is...... Drum Roll Please..... St. George's Day! St. George is the patriot saint of England. Most will have heard of him as the man who slayed the dragon. St. Georges Day is big deal here. In our town they make it a fantastic family day. We always go to the park where there are loads of 12th Century activities on. Our favorite is the Jousting and Sword flighting. They set up a big arena and have different knights joust each other. The Grand Finale being the Bad Knight against Saint George.

Easter - Of course we all celebrate Easter for the same reason, the Resurection of the Savior Jesus Christ, but the traditions are not the same. In the USA you have the Easter Bunny. In England there is no such bunny. Instead we buy HUGE Chocolate Eggs and give them to each other and our children. My children normally end up with about 10 - 15 of these eggs. Everyone is off work on the friday before Easter (Good Friday) and the Monday following Easter (Easter Monday). There are always family fun activities going on in the local parks but no people dressed up like scary Easter Bunnys. ;)

Halloween - Halloween is only really just taking off. Halloween isnt the fun loving holiday it is in the USA. When the children knock on your door and say Trick or Treat they actually mean it and if you dont give them some kind of treat then they will egg or flower your house. Last year our local grocery store refused to sell Eggs or flour to anyone under the age of 18 in the two weeks before Halloween. Many of the older generation see Halloween as celebrating evil spirits and ghost. Since having children I have always taken my children Trick or Treating and it has only been the past couple of years that people have really begun to realise that it can be just for fun with no harm intended. I would imagine that in the next 10 years the bad stigma which has always been around Halloween in England will dissapear and it will become the fun loved holiday that is shared by so many across the pond :)

Bon Fire Night - The 5th of November is Guy Fawlks night, AKA Bon Fire Night. When I first moved here and heard about this I couldnt believe that people here would celebrate a time when a man tried to set the houses of parliment on fire and as punishment was burnt at the stake. I was shocked at my first Bon Fire when they have a stuffed man on top of the Bon Fire and were burning him as a reminder of it. But I have grown to LOVE the traditions which come with this holiday. This is celebrated on the 5th of November so it is starting to get cold out. We always start with a nice hot dinner, chilli or a hotpot (known as stew in the USA) then we bundle up in warm clothes and head to our local Fireworks and Bon Fire Show. We Drink Hot Chocolate and eat Cany Apples, not covered in Caramel but rather in a hard candy shell or choclate covered with nuts or sprinkles. The kids wear glowing jewlery and we buy some kind of lighted toys from the local vendors. There are loads of people around, loud music and of course the Bon Fire and then finally after waiting an hour or so the fireworks start. They are done to traditional music songs like Jerusalem or Land of Hope and Glory and last about 20 minutes. I love this tradition and even as I write this my heart strings are being pulled and I am realising just how much I will miss this tradition.

Rememberance Day - Rememberance Day is similar to Memorial Day, but we dont have time off work. For weeks in the run up to Rememberance Day people wear plastic or paper Red Poppies. Rememberance Day is on the 11th of November. At 11 am there is 2 minutes of silence where ever you are you stop and for two minutes reflect on and remember those who lost their lives for the freedoms which we enjoy so much. Then the following sunday in church again at 11 we have two minutes of silence and everyone stands to show respect. It is a lovely way to remember those who have passed on before us and have paved the way for us. For the comforts and the Freedoms we enjoy.

Christmas - I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I LOVE the British traditions for Christmas. Christmas Crackers, Tins of Chocolates, Selection Boxes, Advent Calanders, School Christmas Fairs, School Christmas Plays and more food than you than you can "shake a stick at".

Boxing Day - The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day. Originally an 'Alms Box' was placed in every church on Christmas Day, into which worshippers placed a gift for the poor of the parish. These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas, which is why that day became know as Boxing Day. Now we celebrate it watching Football (AKA Soccer) and eating as much as you possibly can. Mostly buffet food or left overs.

Where are you from and what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

1 comment:

TJ said...

That was lovely to read thanks for sharing it.