Made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom is one of the most culturally interesting countries in Europe. In addition to certain common customs and traditions that are celebrated throughout the whole Britain, each of the 4 nations also has its country-specific customs. Today’s blog will try to bring you closer to and describe some of the most important events that Britons are very happy to celebrate, and how much they care about the party and celebration of public holidays tells the fact that if a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it takes a substitute working day of the week that becomes non-working so people can rest and spend time with loved ones.
Many public holidays are common across the UK, however, each country also has several specific holidays. The name for UK public holidays is “bank holiday” and it comes from tradition that all banks are closed that day. These holidays are declared by either the Queen or Parliament and are prescribed by statute and law.
Wales and England count 8 bank holidays: New Year’s Eve, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day, and Early May bank holiday, Spring bank holiday celebrated in late May, and Summer bank holiday, which falls in late August . The Scots also include their patron saint, St. Andrew, whose day is celebrated on November 30th and also have a bank holiday on January 2nd, while Northern Ireland commemorates the victory of Protestantism in Ireland (Battle of Boyne) on June 12th and patron saint Patrick on March 17th.
25th January – Burns Supper or Burns night
Burns Night commemorates the life and works of Scottish poet Robbie Burns. His birthday is celebrated by Scots all over the country with a reading of Burns poetry, drinking scotch and eating haggis, a traditional Scottish sheep dish that Burns himself praised in his poetry.
January and February – Chinese New Year
The UK has a large Asian population that celebrates Chinese New Year. The celebration in London’s Chinatown district is where the celebration happens every year with a parade of Chinese food, music, dance, and stunts. That celebration is the biggest celebration of Chinese New Year outside of China itself.
February or March – Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)
Pancake day is celebrated on the last day before Lent begins. As it is a Christian custom to fast during Lent, this fasting meant that most foods would go spoiled during this period. So the British decided to use the eggs, milk, and sugar they had and made pancakes. Today, although many people do not fast anymore, the tradition of making pancakes on this day remains.
February, March or April – Easter
Easter is the largest Christian holiday that is also regularly celebrated throughout Britain. In England, it is customary for children to look for chocolate eggs at Easter Sunday, which the elderly have previously hidden in the home area, and they believe that the Easter bunny came and hid the eggs around the house. Traditionally, Simnel cake is eaten at Easter, which is a fruit cake covered with layers of marzipan and almonds.
1st March – St. David’s Day
On the 1st of March, the population of Wales celebrates its patron saint, Saint David. It is the custom to attach a narcissus or leash to a shirt in memory of the battle against the Saxons, in which, at David’s suggestion, the Welsh wore leeks to distinguish themselves from the enemy. Some Welsh, most often children, also wear traditional Welsh attire.
17th March – St. Patrick’s Day
The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has become extremely popular around the world, however, this day is still the most significant for all residents of the Irish Isle. This day marks the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and also celebrates the general culture and customs of Ireland and Northern Ireland. On this day, green, the pattern of clover are worn and paraded throughout major cities in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Gaelic gathering, ie ceilidh, is also a tradition of the day and the inhabitants gather, sing and listen to folk Gaelic music.
23rd April – Saint George’s Day
St. George is the patron saint of England. The cross of St. George’s is also on the flag of the state and many residents of England mark and celebrate their culture on the day of St. George’s death. It is customary to wear a red rose on the lapel, though this detail is increasingly neglected nowadays.
June – Queen’s Birthday
Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday it’s actually April 21st, but it’s been a tradition since 1748 for the state to celebrate her king/queen’s birthday on the second Saturday in June. This is because June will be a good time so the royal family can celebrate their birthday with civilians while it is sunny and cozy. The grand ceremony, known as Trooping the Colour, takes place in London with a central celebration at Buckingham Palace, with the whole royal family attending the celebration.
31st October – Halloween
The popular Halloween is also regularly celebrated in the UK. Children will traditionally dress up in costumes and go around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors and looking for candy or some kind of joke, so-called ‘trick or treating’, while adults mostly gather and mask to mark this day.
October or November – Diwali
Diwali or Deepavali is a five-day festival of light for the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities. Manchester, London, and Leicester have great street parties with lanterns, lanterns, candles, and fireworks, as well as music, food, and dancing. Diwali is one of the most significant Hindu holidays during which believers gather around their own families and pray to Ganesha, the divinity you will recognize by the elephant’s head.
5th November – Bonfire night (Guy Hawkes)
Guy Fawkes Day, that is, Bonfire Night, is traditionally commemorated on November 5, marking the day Guy Fawkes tried to kill King James I in 1605 and set fire to the Parliament building. His conspiracy was revealed on time, and in 1606 Parliament decided to mark this day as Thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes ended up at the bonfire because of his conspiracy, and it is customary to have his sculptures and models thrown into the fire on this day, which is why this date is also called Bonfire Night.
11th November – Remembrance Day
On Remembrance Day, the British remember the military casualties of World War I and World War II. 11:11. at 11 o’clock traditionally two minutes of silence is practised because at that time in 1918 a truce prevailed in the UK. This day is also marked by the Sunday closest to this date, and since poppies have bloomed across the front lines throughout the war, this flower has become a symbol of Remembrance Day and you will be able to see its pattern wherever you turn.
30th November – St. Andrew’s Day
St. Andrew’s Day, the patron saint of Scotland, is celebrated on 30th November each year and is also a bank holiday in Scotland. On this day, Scots gather with their families, and eat traditional food, listen to folk music, and celebrate their own culture.
25th and 26th December – Christmas and Boxing day
Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated around the world on December 25th, including in the UK. What is special for the British is the celebration of the second day of Christmas, or by their name Boxing day. Boxing day is a bank holiday across the country, and the identity of its name is unknown, but the most famous theory is that it comes from the English term for a Christmas gift – Christmas box. This day people rest, socialize with family, relatives and enjoy various sports and entertainment events.
31st December – New Year’s Eve – Hogmanay
Celebrating the New Year is also popular around the world, however, in Scotland, this time has a special name – Hogmanay. Hogmanay actually marks just the last day of the year, although, in Edinburgh and major places in Scotland, the festivities do not end until January 2nd. Hogmanay kicks off on December 30th with a parade in which everyone in the streets carries torches. Concerts, fireworks and partying are regular as around the world for December 31st, and the brave Scots gather in Queensferry (part of Edinburgh) on New Year’s Day and hop in the icy river – the so-called Loony Dook.
If you find these customs interesting, feel free to contact us and find out how you can experience them firsthand 🙂