Londoners celebrate carnivals. And one of them is Europe's biggest street carnival. A lot of people in the Notting Hill area of London come from the West Indies – a group of islands in the Caribbean. And for two days in August, Nutting Hill is the West Indies. There is West Indian food and music in the streets. There is also a big parade and people dance day and night.
April 1st is April Fool's Day in Britain. This is a very old tradition from the Middle Ages (between the fifth and fifteenth centuries). At that time the servants were masters for one day of the year. They gave orders to their masters, and their masters had to obey.
Now April Fool's Day is different. It is a day for jokes and tricks.
One of the most interesting competitions is the university boat race.
Oxford and Cambridge are Britain's two oldest universities. In the nineteenth century, rowing was a popular sport at both of them. In 1829 they agreed to have a race. They raced on the river Thames and the Oxford boat won. That started a tradition. Now, every Spring, the University Boat Race goes from Putney to Mortlake on the Thames. That is 6,7 kilometres. The Cambridge rowers wear light blue shirts and the Oxford rowers wear dark blue. There are eight men in each boat. There is also a "cox". The cox controls the boat. Traditionally coxes are men, but Susan Brown became the first woman cox in 1981. She was the cox for Oxford and they won.
An annual British tradition, which captures the imagination of the whole nation is the London to Brighton Car Rally in which a fleet of ancient cars indulges in a lighthearted race from the Capital to the Coast.
When the veteran cars set out on the London – Brighton run each November, they are celebrating one of the great landmarks in the history of motoring in Britain – the abolition of the rule that every "horseless carriage" had to be preceded along the road by a pedestrian. This extremely irksome restriction, imposed by the Locomotives on Highways Act, was withdrawn in 1896, and on November of that year there was a rally of motor-cars on the London - Brighton highway to celebrate the first day of freedom – Emancipation Day, as it has known by motorists ever since.
Emancipation is still on the first Sunday of the month, but nowadays there is an important condition of entry – every car taking part must be at least 60 years old.
The Run is not a race. Entrants are limited to a maximum average speed of 20 miles per hour. The great thing is not speed but quality of performance, and the dedicated enthusiasts have a conversation all their own.
The Highland Games – this sporting tradition is Scottish. In the Highlands (the mountains of Scotland) families, or "clans", started the Games hundreds of years ago.
Some of the sports are the Games are international: the high jump and the long jump, for example. But other sports happen only at the Highland Games. One is tossing the caber. "Tossing" means throwing, and a "caber" is a long, heavy piece of wood. In tossing the caber you lift the caber (it can be five or six metres tall). Then you throw it in front of you.
At the Highland Games a lot of men wear kilts. These are traditional Scottish skirts for men. But they are not all the same. Each clan has a different "tartan". That is the name for the pattern on the kilt. So at the Highland Games there are traditional sports and traditional instrument – the bagpipes. The bagpipes are very loud. They say Scots soldier played them before a battle. The noise frightened the soldiers on other side.
The world's most famous tennis tournament is Wimbledon. It started at a small club in south London in the nineteenth century. Now a lot of the nineteenth century traditions have changed. For example, the women players don't have to wear long skirts. And the men players do not have to wear long trousers. But other traditions have not changed at Wimbledon. The courts are still grass, and visitors still eat strawberries and cream. The language of tennis has not changed either.
There are some British traditions and customs concerning their private life. The British are considered to be the world's greatest tea drinkers. And so tea is Britain's favourite drink. The English know how to make tea and what it does for you. In England people say jokingly: 'The test of good tea is simple. If a spoon stands up in it, then it is strong enough; if the spoon starts to wobble, it is a feeble makeshift'.
Every country has its drinking habits, some of which are general and obvious, others most peculiar. Most countries also have a national drink. In England the national is beer, and the pub "pub", where people talk, eat, drink, meet their friends and relax.
The word "pub" is short for "public house". Pubs sell beer. (British beer is always warm). An important custom in pubs is "buying a round". In a group, one person buys all the others a drink. This is a "round". Then one by one all the people buy rounds, too. If they are with friends, British people sometimes lift their glasses before they drink and say: "Cheers". This means "Good luck".
In the pubs in south-west England there is another traditional drink-scrumpy.
Pub names often have a long tradition. Some come from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Every pub has a name and every pub has a sign above its door. The sign shows a picture of the pub's name.
And as you know, the British talk about the weather a lot. 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.
Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to show that they did not have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in most countries.
Frenchman shake hands every time they meet, and kiss each other on both cheeks as a ceremonial salute, like the Russians, while Englishmen shake hands only when they are introduced, or after a long absence.
Victorian England made nearly as many rules about hand shaking as the Chinese did about bowing. A man could not offer his hand first a lady; young ladies did not shake men's hands at all unless they were old friends; married ladies could offer their hands in a room, but not in public, where they would bow slightly.
I have chosen the topic British customs 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 have to conclusion that British people are very conservative. They are proud pf 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 a lot of different types of people who observe their traditions.
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