Learning about traditions of English-speaking countries through General English Courses with Cambridge School of English! - the United States of America
The USA is a country full of cultural diversity, which translates into a wealth of holidays and traditions celebrated by its inhabitants. The dominant religion in the US is Protestantism, occurring in its many forms. The USA is inhabited also with many Catholics, Muslims and Judaists. Even though the society of this country is mostly made up of immigrants from Europe, in the times of the Independence War and after it the national identity of the people living in these areas became established and most migrants rejected their European identity and began to feel like Americans. The most important, traditional value for the Americans is their freedom.
However, the history of the United States has its dark chapters, especially related to the treatment of indigenous people by settlers not only in the first years of colonization of these areas, but also after gaining independence and the start of territorial expansion in the so-called “Wild West”. For this reason, most of the traditions of Indians living in the USA have disappeared. However, many of them are still cultivated by different tribes – in many instances they are associated with growing up and related to the cycle of seasons and crops.
Here are some of Holidays and traditions in the US:
Independence Day/Fourth of July – This day is celebrated across the entire country to memorize the Declaration of Independence in 1776. On this day Americans organize festivals, parades, firework shows and picnics and dress in their national colors – red, white and blue.
Thanksgiving – the fourth Thursday in November – One of the most important holidays in the United States. It is celebrated to thank for the crops and blessings of the passing year. Traditionally, this holiday is considered to be a commemoration of the first harvest festival of the inhabitants of the Plymouth Colony in 1621 – Puritan refugees from England who were persecuted in their country by the Church of England. On this day, Americans gather with family and friends to eat hearty festive meals, most often with turkey, pumpkin and traditional cranberry sauce. It is also a time to express gratitude and share it with others.
Halloween – 31st October – A holiday originated from the celtic culture that was brought to the United States by immigrants. On this day children and adults dress up in scary costumes, going from door to door and asking for candy. Houses are decorated with pumpkins with cut-out funny or scary faces.
The Super Bowl – Even though it’s not a tradition or a holiday, it is one of the most important sports events in the United States. It is the final match of the season of the american football league, that happens in the first weekend of February. The sports event is combined with a musical performance of one of the world’s music stars. Americans organize parties where they watch the game, eat snacks and have fun in front of the TV.
Memorial day – the last Monday of May – the point of this day is to commemorate the soldiers that died while serving for the United States. Its roots date back to the Civil War that happened from 1861 to 1865 between the abolitionist Northern States forming the Union and The Confederate States of America made up of mostly Southern plantation states. The first Memorial Day was associated with celebrating the fallen soldiers of the Union, and its date is connected to the date of reunification of the North and South.
There are many other holidays and celebrations in the US, such as Mardi Gras celebrated in New Orleans, Labor Day or Mother’s Day – each of these unique occasions and how they are celebrated is unique to the state and community – another testament to the cultural diversity of the United States. All of these holidays and traditions have their own unique characteristics and are an opportunity to celebrate, spend time with family and friends, and celebrate different aspects of life in the United States.
Learning about traditions of English-speaking countries through General English Courses with Cambridge School of English! - the United Kingdom
Great Britain is a country with a very rich history and many fascinating traditions and holidays, tied to the Royal Family, the Anglican Church and also to the very long tradition of parliamentary monarchy. Some of these holidays are celebrated only in some parts of the United Kingdom, not the whole former Empire.
Here are some of the most important holidays in Great Britain!
Christmas – One of the most important holidays in the United Kingdom. Traditionally it is celebrated on the 25th of December. On this day British people meet with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The main elements of the celebration are festive parties, communal meals (especially the traditional roast turkey or goose with side dishes) and the exchange of gifts. Houses are also decorated, and Christmas trees are decorated with ornaments and lights.
Saint Patrick’s Day – This Irish saint – who carried out missionary work there in the 5th century – is celebrated in Great Britain, especially in Northern Ireland. On March 17 each year, the British (both Irish and non-Irish) participate in parades wearing the symbol of St. Patrick – clovers. Cultural events, dancing, concerts and festivals take place in many cities, and pubs serve traditional Irish food and drink.
Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) – This day is celebrated on November 5 in memory of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes and his associates tried to blow up the British Parliament. Fireworks, bonfires and torch parades are organized on this day. The iconic Guy Fawkes effigies are burned at the stake, and people prepare traditional dishes such as baked potatoes, sausages and campfire tea.
Wimbledon – This oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world happens in London every year. Many British people wait for its start with impatience. The matches are watched by millions of people – live and on television. The characteristic parts of Wimbledon include the traditional white outfits of the players, eating strawberries with whipped cream and drinking Pimms, a popular British drink.
King’s birthday – Trooping the colour – Great Britain celebrates the birthday of its monarch, currently King Charles the Third, in June every year. Even though the monarch’s birthday is not always celebrated on its exact date, the British take part in parades, military displays and other celebrations to celebrate the occasion. It is also the time when national flags are hoisted and streets are decorated in honor of the monarch.
Great Britain has many other traditions and holidays, such as Mother’s Day, St.George’s Day, Hogmanay – Scottish celebration on New Years Eve, that reflect the cultural and historical diversity of the Kingdom. Each of these holidays and traditions has its own unique features and is an opportunity to celebrate and celebrate together.
Learning about traditions of English-speaking countries through General English Courses with Cambridge School of English! - Australia
As a country with a diverse culture and many ethnic influences, Australia has many unique traditions and holidays. The source of its diversity must be sought in the history of Australia – at the very beginning of the British settlement, it was supposed to be a place where convicts were to be sent. To this day, Australia is part of the Commonwealth – the head of Australia is the king of Great Britain. In his name, in Australia, as in the rest of the Commonwealth nations, the position of Governor-General functions. Traditions developed before the arrival of British settlers – that is Aboriginal culture – are also important for Australians.
Holidays in Australia
Australia Day: Celebrated on 26th of January, it is a day of national celebration and commemoration of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Australia in 1788. This holiday is an opportunity to celebrate Australian identity and culture. Many cities organize parades, fireworks, Australian games and competitions, as well as concerts. The Australian flag is flown on buildings and people attend picnics and barbecues.
ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day – An important holiday that commemorates Australian and New Zealand soldiers that served and fell in wars, especially during the first World War. It is celebrated on 25th of April and is a national memorial day. The ceremonies take place on military graveyards and before statues, and the people of Australia take part in parades, marches and put wreaths on the graves to show their respect for the fallen.
Christmas – Similarly to other countries, Christmas is an important holiday in Australia. But, due to its geographical placement, it happens in the summer. Many people spend that day on the beach, having picnics, barbecues outside. Christmas Trees are decorated and people give each other presents. Moreover, many Australian cities organize “Carols by Candlelight” – singing Christmas carols by candlelight in the open air.
Ekka (Royal Queensland Show) – An yearly event in the state of Queensland, that happens in August. It is the largest regional show in Australia focused on agriculture, farming, animal competitions, craft shows and entertainment attractions. Ekka is an opportunity to celebrate rural culture and farm life.
NAIDOC Week: It is a week of celebrating and crediting the input of the indigenous Australians. Held in July, it celebrates the traditions, language, dance, arts and heritage of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders between Australia and New Guinea. The islands in this strait are inhabited by the indigenous people – Melanesians. NAIDOC Week hosts a variety of events such as exhibitions, concerts, workshops and conferences to highlight the importance and value of Australia’s indigenous communities.
Of course, it is only a few of the examples of the holidays and traditions in Australia. In a country with such a cultural diversity you can find many interesting celebrations and practices that reflect the multi-ethnic character of the continent.
Mentioned above holidays are only some of the many other interesting celebrations that make up the cultures of those countries.
To learn more about the culture of English-speaking countries, check the Cambridge School of English website!
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