There are only 6 public holidays in Great Britain. Those are days on which people need not go to work. These days are: Christmas Day, Boxing day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it would be right to say that for the great part of the population they have lost their religious significance and are simply days on which people relax, drink and make merry.
All public holidays, except Christmas day and Boxing day observed on December 25th and 26th respectively, are movable, that is don’t fall on the same day each year. Christmas day observed on December 25th is the most popular public holiday of the year in all parts of Greeat Britain except Scotland. On Christmas Eve offices and public buildings close at one o’clock, but the shops stay open late. Most big cities, especially London, are decorated with Christmas trees and colored lights across the streets. Everybody wants
to be at home for Christmas.
At homes there’s a great air of expectation. The children are decorating the tree, housewives are busy in the kitchen getting things ready for the next day’s dinner. The Christmas food, nowadays usually turkey, is being prepared and stuffed.
The chief Christmas tree is usually placed on Trafalgar Square, in front of the national Gallery, and it has become a tradition that the tree is a present from the people of Oslo. December 26th is called Boxing day because traditionally it was the day for people still give a “Christmas box” to the postman and milkman, but it’s usually some money. This is the day when one visits friends, goes for a drive or a long walk or just sits around recovering from eating too much food. In the big cities and towns, tradition on that day demands a visit to the Christmas pantomime where one is entertained by the story of Cinderella, or Puss in Boots or whoever it may be. Easter is a religious holiday and Easter Monday is a bank holiday.
Certain old traditions are observed, whenever it’s celebrated as the start of spring or a religious festival. London greets the spring with a spectacular show, Easter Parade in Batter Sea Park on Easter Sunday each year. It is sponsored by the London, Tourist Board and is usually planned around a central theme related to the history and attractions of London. During the Easter Holidays the attention of the progressive people in Britain and indeed throughout the world stays focused. First and foremost on the Easter Peace Marches, which took place for the first time in 1958 and have since become traditional.
Good Friday and Easter Monday depend on Easter Sunday, which falls on the 1st Sunday after a full Moon on or after March 21st. The Spring Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of May or on the 1st Monday of June, while the Late Summer Bank Holiday comes on the last Monday in August or on the first Monday in September, depending on which of the Monday is nearer to June 1st and September 1st respectively. Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries and simply days, for example Pancake Day and Bonfire High on which certain traditions are observed.