Who is the patron saint of England? It is St. George. English people celebrate St. George’s Day every year on April 23rd.
It has to be said though that unlike the Scottish and Irish, who celebrate their patron saints in style and by drinking alcohol, the English really do not celebrate their day! In recent years efforts have been made to increase the day’s importance, but it actually lacks serious effort by the English.
Back in the 60s, when I was a boy at primary school, in class we used to play St. George and the Dragon. This was done in the form of a Mummers play, as it was known. The story being that St. George would kill the dragon then rescue the damsel in distress. It is a fairytale. By the 12th century the legendary story had become widespread.
Today, let’s talk about April Fools’ Day. Known also as All Fools’ Day it is celebrated on the morning of the 1st April when practical jokes and hoaxes are played on people. The victims are called April fools! Newspapers are fond of reporting fake stories, which are normally explained the next day.
April Fools’ Day in the UK can be traced back to around 1392 to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale mentions ‘Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two’. The passage was meant to mean 32 days after March – 2nd May – but was mistook for 32nd March i.e. 1st April.
Today let’s talk about Easter traditions. Every Christian country and region has its own. In this lesson we will look at a few of them.
Most people associate Easter with Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts. Easter though is about Christ. Many Christians celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. For this reason they go to church over this period.
Easter traditions do vary depending on where you live and what religion you have. A favourite Easter game is egg tossing or egg throwing. Why? Because the egg is a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth of man at Easter.
Today, we are going to talk about February 29. The extra day occurs once every four years. It is called a Leap Day and is added to the calendar. When there is a leap year there are 366 days rather than 365 days of the year.
The previous leap year was in 2012. This year sees another leap year. The extra day is added because of the way the Solar System works. A complete orbit of the Earth around the sun actually takes approximately 365.2422 days.
Why are there 29 days in February rather than 30 or 31? This is down to history. During the Roman Empire Emperor Julius Caesar ordered his astronomer Sosigenes to simplify the 355 day Roman calendar, which had an extra 22 days added on every two years. Sosigenes created the 365 day year, with an extra day every 4 years.
Today let’s talk about Valentine’s Day! In case you didn’t know it is on February 14th. It is celebrated in many countries around the world. These days it is pretty commercial. Known also as St Valentine’s Day it is associated with love! Valentine’s Day symbols include heart shapes, doves and the figure of a winged cupid.
In Britain in the 18th century handwritten greeting cards were sent. Lovers also expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, and confectionary. By 1900 handwritten cards had given way to mass-produced greeting cards; all these traditions still continue. Nowadays lovers also send SMS messages and email cards. A dozen red roses remain a popular gift to send your lover.
Today let’s talk about music legend David Bowie. The singer died in New York on the 10th January 2016 at the age of 69 following an 18 month battle with liver cancer.
Bowie had kept his illness a secret from his fans; only his family and a few close friends actually knew. He told them that he wanted to be remembered for the good times and his music. Shortly after his death he was secretly cremated in New York without any of his family or friends present ‘without fuss’ – no big show, no fan-fare.
Today, let’s talk about great British inventions. There are many. We will look at a few of them.
The jet engine was invented by a chap called Frank Whittle from Coventry. He was fighter pilot. Whittle realised that piston powered flight was old technology. He designed the gas turbine ‘turbo-jet’ in 1930. Thwarted by the military it wasn’t until 1941 that his jet idea took off in the form of a Gloster E28/39 for a 17 minute flight.
Tin cans used for baked beans and vegetables were invented by a man called Peter Durand. He copied the preserved food in a glass jar idea that Frenchman Nicholas Appert had created, doing it this time with a tin can. The first commercial canning factory was opened in England in 1813.
In today’s English lesson we will look back at 2015. We will talk about some of the things that happened in the world during 2015.
The ongoing war in Syria dominated the news headlines in 2015. That aside, perhaps the biggest event to happen in Europe in 2015 was the great migration crisis. When the German Chancellor Mrs Merkel said ‘All migrants are welcome’ the floodgates were opened. Only Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán challenged her with his fence.
In the States Donald Trump was big news. He’s got a big mouth and wasn’t afraid to use it. Sadly, more people were killed by guns in the USA but as usual nothing was done about it.
Today, let’s talk about Halloween. It occurs once a year on the night of the 31st October. It’s the most likely time you’ll see people dressed up as witches, ghosts, skeletons, monsters, devils or other weird supernatural creatures.
Halloween parties are popular among both children and adults and dressing up in costume is all part of the fun! Watch out for many a pumpkin with spooky eyes and teeth lit by a candle. Halloween colours are black and orange. Watch out for the spooky masks!
Category: Halloween / 31st October / Witches & Pumpkins
Pre-Christmas - The English like to celebrate Christmas well ahead of the actual day. Before the kids break up from school toddlers might visit Santa’s grotto in a local department store. Children at primary and secondary schools might hold Christmas bazaars. Kids at secondary schools normally have to go to church for the annual carol service. Adults meanwhile celebrate with the Christmas office party! That’s always good festive fun!
There are Christmas lights in the main parts of most towns and these days some people like to decorate the front of their houses with Christmas lights. Meanwhile many retailers in England have been flogging Christmas goodies since October! The advent calendar is also a must for kids to open daily in December. Christmas markets are now very popular.
Category: England / Traditional Christmas / Christmas