The Guards are trooping the colour. Thousands of Londoners and visitors watch in Horse Guards' Parade. And millions of people at home watch it on television.
The changing of the guard
This happens every day at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's home in London. Soldiers stand in front of the palace. Each morning these soldiers (the "guard") change. One group leaves and another arrives. In summer and winter tourists stand outside the palace at 11.30 every morning and watch the Changing of the Guard.
Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday, at Easter. On that day the Queen gives Maundy money to a group of old people. This tradition is over 1,000 years old. At one time the king or queen washed the feet of poor, old pedple on Maundy Thursday. That stopped in 1754.
Here's a very different royal tradition. On the River Thames there are hundreds of swans. A lot of these beautiful white birds belong, traditionally, to the king or queen. In July the young swans on the Thames are about two months old. Then the Queen's swan keeper goes, in a boat, from London Bridge to Henley. He looks at all the young swans and marks the royal ones. The name of this strange but interesting custom is Swan Upping.
The Queen's telegram
This custom is not very old, but it's for very old people. On his or her one hundredth birthday, a British person gets a telegram from the Queen.
The state opening of parliament
Parliament, not the Royal Family, controls modern Britain. But traditionally the Queen opens Parliament every autumn. She travels from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in a gold carriage - the Irish State Coach. At the Houses of Parliament the Queen sits on a "throne" in the House of Lords. Then she reads the "Queen's Speech". At State Opening of Parliament the Queen wears a crown. She wears other jewels from the Crown Jewels, too.
The order of the Garter Ceremony
The Order of the Garter ceremony has a long history. King Edward III started the Order in the fourteenth centur', that time, the people in the Order were the twent', four bravest knights in England. Now the knights of thc Order aren't all soldiers. They're members of the House of Lords, church leaders or politicians. There are some foreign knights, too. For example, the King of Norway, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the Emperor of Japan. They're called Extra Knights of the Garter. The Queen is the Sovereign of the Order of the Garter. But she isn't the only royal person in the Order. Prince Charles and Prince Philip are Royal Knights, and the Queen Mother is a Lady of the Garter.
In June the Order his a traditional ceremony at Windsor Castle. This is the Queen's favourite castle. It's also the home of the Order ~ the Garter. All the knights walk from the castle to St George's Chapel. The royal church at Windsor. They wear the traditional "robes" of the Order. These robes are verv heavv. In tact King Edward VIII once called them 'ridiculous". But they're an important part of one ot Britain's oldest traditions.
The Queen's Christmas speech
Now here's a modern royal custom. On Christmas Day at 3.00 in the afternoon the Queen makes a speech on radio and TV. It's ten minutes long. In it she talks to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a large group of countries. In the past they were all in the British Empire. Australia, India, Canada and New Zealand are among the 49 members.
The B.B.C. (the British Broadcasting Corporation) sends the Queen's speech to every Commonwealth countrv. In her speech the Queen talks about the past year. Traditionallv in speeches, kings or queens say "we" not "I" Queen Elizabeth II doesn't do this. She says "My husband and I" or just 'I''.
The Queen doesn't make her speech on Christmas Day. She films it a few weeks before. Then she spends Christmas with her familY at Windsor. Does she watch the speech on TV? Nobody knows.
Talking about the weather
The British talk about the weather a lot. For example, ''Isn't it a beautiful morning?" or, ''Very cold today, isn't it?" They talk about the weather because it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun cloud, snow - they can all happen in a British winter - or a British summer.
At British banks, shops, cinemas, theatres or bus stops you can always see people in queues. They stand in a line and wait quietly, often for a long time. Each new person stands at the end of the queue - sometimes in rain, wind or snow.
Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to show that they didn't have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in most countries. In Britain you don't shake hands with your friends and family. But you doshake hands when you meet a person for the first time. You also say "How do you do?" This is not really a question, it's a tradition. The correct answer is exactly the same, "How do you do?"
The British sen'd birthday cards and often give birthday presents. There are cards for other days, too:
Christmas cards, Valentine's Day cards, Mother's Day cards, Father's Day cards, Easter cards, Wedding Anniversary cards, Good Luck cards, "Congratulations On Your New Baby" cards, and "Get Well Soon" cards.
It's the custom to have a party to celebrate:
- A person's birthday
- A new house
- Christmas (at home, and often in offices, too)
- An engagement (a promise to marry)
- A wedding (marriage)
- New Year's Eve
Wrong side of the bed
When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People believe that the way they rose in the morning affected their behavior throughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The left always having been linked with evil.
Blowing out the cand candles
The custom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to the ancient Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting, used to place honey cakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. The cakes were round like the full moon and lit with tapers. This custom was next recorded in the middle ages when German peasants lit tapers on birthday cakes, the number lit indicating the person's age, plus an extra one to represent the light of life. From earliest days burning tapers had been endued with mystical significance and it was believedthat when blown out they had the power to grant a secret wish and ensure a happy year ahead.
I have chosen the topic 'British customs and traditions' because I enjoy learning the English language and wanted to know more about British ways of life and traditions. Working on this topic I came to the conclusion that British people are very conservative. They are proud of their traditions and carefully keep them up. It was interesting to know that foreigners coming to England are stuck at once by quite a number of customs and peculiarities.
So I think of Britain as a place with a lot of different types of people who observe their traditions.
Стивен Раблей "Customs and traditions in Britain", изд. "Longman Group", ИК, 1996г.;
Усова Г. С. "British history", изд. "Лань", г. С.-Петербург, 1999г.;
Хишунина Т. Н. "Customs, traditions and holidays in Britain", изд. "Просвещение", г. С.-Петербург, 1975г.;
Голицынский Ю. "Great Britain", изд. "Каро", г. С.-Петербург, 1999г.