The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

English Customs and Traditions

Category: Customs + Festivals

Every nation and every country has its own customs and traditions. In Britain traditions play a more important part in the life of the people than in other countries.
Englishmen are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. It has been the law for about three hundred years that all the theatres are closed on Sundays. No letters are delivered, only a few Sunday papers are published.

To this day an English family prefers a house with a garden to a flat in a modern house with central heating. English people like gardens.

Holidays are especially rich in old traditions and are different in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Christmas is a great English national holiday, and in Scotland it is not kept at all, except by clerks in banks; all the shops, mills and factories are working. But six days later, on New Years Eve the Scotch begin to enjoy themselves. All the shops, mills and factories are closed on New Years Day.

People invite their friends to their houses and “sit the Old Year out and the New Year in”.

When the dock begins to strike twelve, the head of the family goes to the entrance door, opens it wide and holds it until the last stroke. Then he shuts the door. He has let the Old Year out and the New Year in.
One of the most peculiar features of life in England which immediately strikes any visitor to this country is the cherishing and preserving of many traditions, sometimes very archaic as they may seem. Uniforms are not particularly characteristic of this fact. However, when one sees the warders at the Tower of London with their funny flat hats, their trousers bound at the knee, and the royal monogram on their breast, one feels carried back to the age of Queen Elisabeth I.

And you should chance to see the Lord Mayor of London riding through the streets of the city with his black robe and gold chain, his medieval carriage, and all sheriffs, councillors and other members of his suite, you have a picture of living history.

Tourists visiting London are usually eager to see Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen and the King. The house was bought by George III from the Duke of Buckingham, from whom it takes the name.

Queen Victoria was the first to make the Palace the official residence of the Sovereign. The colourful ceremony of the Changing of the Guard before the Palace is of great interest for visitors. The Guardsmen in their red coats and bearskin caps march behind the Drum Major and the Band.

A number of other ceremonies also take place, such as the Kings or Queen’s receptions and the State Opening of Parliament.

There is an other custom, such as the searching of the cellars underneath the Houses of Parliament by half a dozen “Beefeaters” before the opening of Parliament, in memory of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

English people tend to be rather conservative. The conservative attitude consists of an acceptance of things which are familiar. The metric system came into general use in 1975.

The twenty-four-hour clock was at last adopted for railway timetables in the 1960s — though not for most other timetables, such as radio programmes. The decimal money was introduced, but the pound sterling as the basic unit was kept, one-hundredth part of it being a new penny. Temperatures have been measured in Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit for a number of years, though most people tend to use Fahrenheit for general purposes.

« ||| »

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.