Реферат: Traditions, customs and habits of Great Britain
PERM STATE UNIVERSITY
CUSTOMS AND HABITS
OF GREAT BRITAIN
the 2nd year student
“social and cultural service
and tourism” speciality
Ways of everyday life
Traditions and parliament
Traditions of university life
Traditions of Northern Ireland
I choose this topic because it’s very interesting and urgent for me now. This
subject is closely connected with my feature profession. People of different
countries have their own traditions. And I think, it is very important to
know customs and traditions of that country, which you are going to visit.
The national traditions absorb, accumulate and reflect the historic
experience of the part generations.
The aim of my work is to describe in details customs and habits of English.
And I should say, that English life is full of traditions. Some of them are
very beautiful, colorful and picturesque, and seem to be quite reasonable;
others are curious, sometimes funny, and they often are maintained simply as
a tourist attraction.
In additions, many English traditions have long outlived themselves and
became burdensome. Moreover, they make no sense in the present day like and
only complicate things. But they are preserved and kept alive because of the
well-known traditional English conservatism.
There are many traditions associated with some historical facts,
parliamentary, court and state ceremonies, university life, and popular
holidays. Others are connected with the mode of everyday life. They deal with
customs, manners of behaviour, and habits of the people. Studying them will
help us to understand better the English way of life.
I. WAYS OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Very often when speaking of English traditions we think first of some curious
theatrical ceremonies of the court* or parliament procedure. There come to
our mind the medieval uniforms of the guards, the solemn cloaks and wigs of
the judges or the top hats (bowlers) and the invariable umbrellas of the
clerks of the London City.
But the word “tradition” does not mean only that. First and foremost
“tradition” is the generally accepted made or way of living, acting, behaving
of just doing things. There are many very good traditions of this kind in the
everyday life of the English.
1. Everything is the Other Way Round
In England everything is the other way round. On Sunday on the Continent even
the poorest person puts on his best suit, tries to look respectable, and at
the same time the life of the country becomes gay and cheerful; in England
even the richest peer or motor-car manufacturer dresses in some peculiar
rags, does not shave, and the country becomes dull and dreary.
On the Continent there is one topic, which should be avoided – the weather;
in England, if you do not repeat the phrase “Lovely day, isn’t it?” at least
two hundred times a day, you are considered a bit dull. On the Continent
Sunday papers appear on Monday; in England – a country of exotic oddities –
they appear on Sunday.
On a continental bus approaching a request stop the conductor rings the bell
if he wants his bus to go on without stopping; in England you ring the bell
if you want the bus to stop. On the Continent people have good food; in
England people have good table manners.
On the Continent public orators try to learn to speak fluently and smoothly;
in England they take a special course in Oxonian stuttering.
On the Continent learned person love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne
and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off
their knowledge, nobody quotes Latin or Greek authors in the course of a
conversation, unless he has never read them.
Continental people are sensitive and touchy; the English take everything with
an exquisite sense of humour – they are only offended if you tell them that
they have no sense of humour.
People on the Continent either tell you the truth or lie; in England they
hardly ever lie, but they would not – dream of telling you the truth.
Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game.
2. Lunch at 1 o’clock
Many foreigners are sometimes taken aback when they are faced with this
typically English custom for the first time.
Whatever one is doing, no matter how important it is, or seems to be – a
parliamentary debate or any kind of business routine – as soon as the clock
strikes one everybody breaks for lunch.
The time from one to two o’clock is a “sacred” hour in England. And it
appears to be not only good for health – having meals at regular times is
certainly healthy – but it is very convenient socially as well. Everybody
knows that there is no use trying to get in touch with some official,
business executive or firm representative at this time. They won’t be in. it
is no use no waste your time going from one shop to another at one o’clock
sharp they will open. For punctuality is also one of the English traditions.
3. English Sunday
The so called Sunday Observance laws* prohibiting all kind of public
entertainment on Sunday date back to the 17-18 century. The idea was to
encourage people to go church and not to allow them “to profane the Lord’s
Day” by amusing themselves.
Three hundred years have passed since then. Church services are attended by
fewer people now than some decades ago. But the old custom of having a quiet
Sunday is still alive. This is another English tradition preserved by law.
On Sunday you may visit a museum or go to a concert but all shops, theatres,
dance and music halls are closed. This is rather illogical when compared with
the unrestricted variety programmes on radio and television or the fact that
one can always go to the bingo-club to enjoy himself or to the cinema to see
a “thriller” or the latest American “hit”.
Pubs* and restaurants are open only from 12 to 2, and from 5 to 10 p.m. The
police are very strict and do not hesitate to withdraw the licence from the
proprietors who disregard closing time.
All professional football and cricket matches, as well as horse and dog
racing are banned, though you can play tennis or go any excursions would have
been considered to be improper. Now there is a great number of people who
like to go to the country or to the sea-side and spend their week-ends
fishing, camping or hiking.
But still many Englishmen prefer a quiet Sunday at home. They get up late, go
to church in the morning, have a big dinner, sleep afterwards, work in their
garden until tea, read books and listen to the wireless.
After three centuries the Puritan influence is still to be felt.
4. English Tea
The trouble with the tea is that originally is was quite a good drink. So a
group of the most eminent British scientists put their heads together, and
made complicated biological experiments to find a way of spoiling it. To
eternal glory of British science their labour bore fruit. They suggested that
if you do not drink it clear, or with lemon or rum and sugar, but pour a few
drops of cold milk into it, and no sugar at all, the desired object is
achieved. Once this refreshing, aromatic, oriental beverage was successfully
transformed into colorless and tasteless gargling-water*, it suddenly became
the national drink of Great Britain and Ireland – still retaining, indeed
usurping, the high-sounding title of tea.
There are some occasions when you must not refuse a cup of tea, otherwise you
are judged an exotic and barbarous bird without any hope of ever being able
to take your place in civilized society.
If you are invited to an English home, at five o’clock in the morning you get
a cup of tea. It is either brought in by a heartily smiling hostes or an
almost malevolently silent maid. When you are disturbed in your sweetest
morning sleep you must not say: “Madame (or Mabel), I think you are a cruel,
spiteful and malignant person who deserved to be shot.” On the contrary, you
have to declare with your best five o’clock smile: “Thank you so much. I do
adore a cup of early morning tea, especially early in the morning.” If they
live you alone with the liquid, you may pour it down the washbasin.
Than you have tea for breakfast; then you have tea at eleven o’clock in the
morning; then after lunch; then you have tea for tea; then for supper; and
again at eleven o’clock at night. You mast not refuse any additional cups of
tea under the following circumstances: is it is hot; if it is cold; if you
are tired; if anybody thinks that you might be tired; if you are nervous; if
you are gay; before you go out; if you have just returned home; if you feel
like it; if you do not feel like it; if you have had no tea for some time; if
you have just had a cup.
In English homes, the fireplace has always been, until recent times, the
natural center of interest in a room. People may like to sit at a window on a
summer day, but for many months of the year prefer to sit round the fire and
watch the dancing flames.
In the Middle Ages the fireplaces in the halls of large castles were very
wide. Only wood was burnt, and large logs were carted in from the forests,
and supported as they burnt, on metal bars. Such wide fireplaces may still be
seen in old inns, and in some of them there are even seats inside the
Elizabethan fireplaces often had carved stone or woodwork over the fireplace,
reaching to the ceiling. There were sometimes columns on each side of the
fireplace. In the 18th century, place was often provided over the
fireplace for a painting or mirror.
When coal fires became common, fireplaces became much smaller. Grates were
used to hold the coal. Above the fireplace there was usually a shelf on which
there was often a clock, and perhaps framed photographs.
Do you know what a pub is? The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
defines it as a public house or building where people go to drink and to meet
their friends. English men like to get together in the pub in the evening. The
usual opening hours for pubs are on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
to 10.30 p.m. On Sundays pubs may remain open for not more than 5 and a half
Pubs usually have two drinking rooms called bars - the public and the saloon
bar, which is more comfortable but more expensive. "Bar" also means the
counter at which drinks are served.
Pubs serve alcoholic and other drinks and often light meals. The main drink
served in pubs, is, of course, beer, light or dark. Light beer is usually
called bitter. As for other kinds of alcohol, most pubs serve whisky, gin
and wine. Beer is always sold in pint or half-pint glasses. A pint is
equivalent to 0.57 liter No alcoholic drinks may be served to young people
under eighteen under British law.
In Great Britain today there are some 80,000 pubs situated in different
cities, country towns, villages, and so on. Of London's 5.000 pubs some of
the most interesting are right by the River Thames, downstream as well as up.
Every English pub has its own sign and name. Some people refer to pub signs
as a great open-air portrait gallery, which covers the whole country. But
actually this gallery includes far more than portraits.
Some pub signs present different types of transport such as coaches, trams,
ships, airplanes and even flying boards. There are signboards depicting
animals, birds, fish as well as kings and queens, dukes and lords, sailors,
soldiers, fat men and giants. A first class example of an heraldic pub sign
is found near Leeds in
Yorkshire at Burley. The Butcher's Arms can be seen in Gloucestershire on a
small typical English country pub near Sheepscombe.
At Cheltenham also in the same county you will see a sign showing the head of
a horse, the name of the pub being Nags Head. At the village of Slad, also
in Gloucestershire you can have a pint of lager in Woolpack and this pub sign
shows a horse with two heavy packs of wool slung over it.
In Wales the most attractive sign in a number of pubs share the name of
Market Tavern because all of them are on the pubs adjoining the market place.
In London the famous Sherlock Holmes pub with the big portrait of the famous
detective smoking his favourite pipe attracts thousands of visitors to
History, geography, fairytales are kept alive by the name or sign of the
"local" (the neighbourhood pub). As history is being made, so the owners of
the pubs - usually the brewery companies - and individual publicans are
quick to record it by new signs. Typical example is the "Sir Francis
Chichester" named after the first man to sail alone around the world.
Not all British pubs have individual signboards, but a considerable effort
is being made now to retain old signs. Jerome K. Jerome, the creator of the
internationally known book "Three Men In a Boat" over a hundred years ago
revealed himself at probably his most authoritative intro matter or pubs. He
clearly was a pub man and you can consider his famous book not only a
guidebook to the Thames but as the first of those now familiar surveys of
recommended places where to sleep, eat and enjoy beer. But in many pubs one
can also enjoy some traditional pub games. There are darts, cards, skittles,
coin games and various table games, of which playing darts is the oldest one.
Some of these games are difficult to find, as pubs have updated their
amenities by offering TV and video games, such as two-men tennis, fruit
machines, pinball machines, and so on. There are also other pub
entertainments, such as piano playing, folk-singing, jazz performances and
even theatres. However, if such table games as billiards or table football
which are played with two or four players as well as cards, dominoes and coin
games are known in this country, skittles and darts are less familiar.
Skittles is one of the oldest pub games and dates back to medieval England,
the object of the game being to knock down as many skittles as possible with
a wooden ball. This pub game has lots of variations all over Britain. Darts
is also an old game, ' which was played by the Pilgrims in 1620 when they
sailed, from England to the New World. That is why it is well known in the
USA, too. To play this game one must first of all have a standard dartboard
with numbers marked on it to indicate score. The outer ring counts double,
the middle one treble while at the very centre is the bull (50) with its own
outer circle (25). Dart players should stand at least eight feet away from
the board. The aim of the game is to score as quickly as possible with the
least number, of throws. The actual score a player must get depends on the
variety of game he is playing. Many pubs in Great Britain have their own
darts teams. So, if you come to Britain drop in a pub, enjoy a pint of bitter
and a "tongue sandwich, which speaks for itself”.
It sounds funny to foreigners but when it is closing time, the pub barman
calls "Time!" or "Time, gentlemen, pleaser!”
7. English Habits of Politeness
Some greetings in England are very informal: a simple “good morning” or a
wave of the hand across the street is quite enough. Handshakes are only
exchanged on a first introduction or as a token of agreement or
congratulation. “Sorry” takes the place of “no” when you cannot do something
for a person or give a positive answer in situation like “May I use your
pen?”, “Do you know the time?” or “Have you any size seven shoes?”. “Pardon”
is the polite way of asking somebody to repeat what he has said.
English people do not readily ask each other to do anything, they prefer to
wait for a service to be offered before asking for it. If they do ask, then
they say something like “I don’t really like asking you, but.”
It is considered polite to give up one’s seat a woman who is standing, to
open door for her, carry things for her, and so on.
8. Manners in Public
Our manners in public, like our manners in our homes, are based on self-
respect and consideration for other people.
It is really surprising how stingy we are with our “Please” when we ask
anyone to do something for us. We unwillingly part with our “Thank you”, as
if it were the most difficult and costly thing in the world. We don’t stand
aside for others to pass us in the trams, buses or the underground. We don’t
rice to let people pass us to their seats in the theatres or movies.
Not to make yourself conspicuous, not to attract unfavourable attention to
yourself or others, here are some of the rules for correct behaviour in a
1. Not to be conspicuous, don’t wear conspicuous clothes.
2. One should not talk loud or laugh loud.
3. No matter how trying the circumstance, do not give way to anger or
4. Never eat anything in the street, or in a public place (restaurants,
buffets and cafes excluded).
5. Do not rudely push your way through crowds.
6. Never stare at people or point at them.
7. Do not ridicule or comment on anyone in public.
8. Reserve “affectionate demonstration” (kissing, embracing, etc.) for
9. Don’t monopolise the sidewalk, by walking 3 or 4 abreast, or by
stopping in the centre to speak with someone.
10. When in the street keep to the right.
II. TRADITIONS AND PARLIAMENT
Like so many English institutions Parliament has been born of accident,
expediency, economy and tradition.
The first Parliament met in Westminster Hall in 1265, as an immediate result
of Magna Carta*. Many of the ceremonies carried out in the Parliament are
1. Procedure in the House of Commons
The sitting of the House of Commons each day is opened by the Procession of
the Speaker. Wearing his wig and gown, he is accompanied by the Chaplain, his
Secretary and the Sergeant-at-Arms*, carrying the Mace*.
(The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for seeing that strangers do not
misconduct themselves in the House, and for arresting members as directed by
On arrival at the Chamber, the Mace is set on the Table, players are read by
the Chaplain, and provided a quorum of forty members is present, the Speaker
takes the Chair, the Chaplains withdraw, and the business of the day is
Except on Friday the first hour in the House of Commons is set aside for
questions, the Speaker calling in turn the Members whose names appear in the
After question time new Members, if any, are introduced, and then the Speaker
directs the Clerk at the Table to read the Order of the Day, and the regular
business is begun. This may entail debating a particular stage of a Public
Bill*, going into Committee to discuss the business of supply, considering
Lord’s amendments to a Bill, or any other item of business.
No Member may speak in a debate unless he has received permission from the
Speaker and this he obtains by what is known as “catching the Speaker’s eye”.
In effect what happens is that those members desirous of speaking rise to
their feet and the Speaker calls upon one of them whereupon the remainder
resume their seats.
Speeches are addressed to the Speaker and may not be read, this however is a
rule that has lately been subjected to exceptions.
There is another curious in the Parliament. In front of the Members’ benches
in the House of Commons you will see a strip of carpet. When a Member
speaking in the House puts his foot beyond that strip there is a shout
“Order”. This dates back to the time when the Members had swords on them and
during a heated discussion might want to start fighting. The word “order”
remind the hotheads that no fighting was allowed in the House. The carpet
became the limit, a sort of a frontier.
The day in the Parliament ends with the Speaker leaving the Chamber through
the door behind his Chair to the cries of “Who goes home?” and “Usual time
tomorrow”. These cries are relict of the days when the streets were unsafe
and the members went together for safety and when there were no fixed hours
In the House of Commons there are only 437 seats for 625 Members. The
admittance of the sittings is not obligatory. And if more than 437 Members
turn up for some important debate they to stand.
When the Members of Parliament vote, they “divide”, those voting “yes” file
out to the lobby on the Speaker’s right; and “no’s” go through to the lobby
to his left. In each lobby they are counted by 2 Members called “tellers”*.
2. The Chamber of the House of Lords
At the end of the Chamber stands the Throne. In front of it is the Woolsack*
where the Lord Chancellor wearing a full – bottomed wig, court dress and a
grown, sits as Speaker of the House of Lords.
The Woolsack is traditionally held to have been placed in the House in the
reign of Edward the Third. Records of the House of Lords how that “the Judges
shall sit on woolsack” – emblematic of England’s one time the woolsack came
to be stuffed with hair. But in 1938 it was restuffed with wool. It is a big
square divan with a kind of back in the middle, upholstered in red leather.
3. The State Opening of Parliament
The opening of Parliament at the beginning of a session is preceded by a
ceremony that is steeped in ancient tradition and dressed in the full panoply
of a royal and state occasion. It is the most colourful, as well as the most
important ceremony of the year.
Her Majesty* the Queen, attended by a sovereign’s escort of the Household
Cavalry*, drives in state from Buckingham Palace to the Sovereign’s Entrance
beneath the Victoria Tower at the south end of the Palace of Westminster. The
route is lined regiments of Footguards* wearing the black bearskins* which
have for so long been a symbol of courage and loyal service.
At the foot of the Royal Staircase which is lined by Household Cavalry, her
Majesty is received by the great officers of the State.
The Procession heard by the four Pursuivants* wearing their taburds*
embroidered with the royal arms passes through the Royal Gallery and between
lines of Beefeaters* and Gentlemen-at-Arms* in uniforms of scarlet, black and
gold. The Queen magnificently appareled in robes of state, crowned, and
wearing many of the finest crown jewels, enters the House of Lords. The
assembly rises to its feet. The peers are in their scarlet robes; the
archbishops and judges in scarlet; the Diplomatic corps is blasing with gold
Her Majesty occupies the throne and says: “My Lords, pray be seated”. At the
Queen’s request the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod* procedes to the House
of Commons to command the presence of its members at the Bar of the House of
Lords*. The door of the Commons Chamber is slammed in his face by the
Sergeant-at-Arms. Thus do the Commons maintain their ancient right to deny
royal access* to their Chamber.
(King Charles I (1625-1649) was he last English King ever to enter the House
Black Rod knocks three times with his rod of office, and the door is opened.
He advances towards the Speaker and delivers his message, whereupon the
Commons, proceded by the Speaker and the chief ministers, repair to the Bar
of the House of Lords.
When the Commons are assembled at the Bar, the Lord Chancellor kneels before
the Queen and hands her a copy of the royal speech, which has been prepared
by the policy which the Government intends to follow and the measures which
it proposes to adopt during the session about to be open. At the conclusion
of the Queen’s speech the Commons return to their Chamber. The Queen is
escorted to her coach and returns to Buckingham Palace.
4. Search the Parliamentary Cellars
Before the opening of Parliament half a dozen “Beefeaters” do the searching
of the cellars underneath the Houses of Parliament, in memory of Guy Fawkes
and the Gun Powder Plot* in 1605.
Guy Fawkes was the chief instrument in the Gun Powder which was intended to blow
up James I and his anti-Roman Catholic Government at the opening of Parliament
on the 5th of November, 1605. the plot miscarried owing to an
anonymous warning sent to Lord Monteagle. Fawkes was arrested among the barrels
of gunpowder that he had stacked beneath the House of Lords. He was tortured by
order of James I and signer confessions. These confessions were used as
evidence at the trial in Westminster Hall of Fawkes and his
fellow-conspirators, who were sentenced to be hanged, drown and quartered.
The 5th of November is marked in England as Guy Fawkes Day. In the
evening bonfires are lit on high hills and fireworks are let off in the
“Please to remember the 5th of November, Gun Powder Treason and
Plot”, are the first lines of the song heard on this day.
Pageantry* and other colourful ceremonies are part of every day life in Britain.
1. Royal Ceremonies*
The Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard* at Buckingham and St. James’s Palaces era
ceremonies of great interest. Each new guard mounts sentries* for 24 hours,
though sometimes the guard remains on duty for 48 hours.
The ceremony at Buckingham Palace takes place daily 11.30 a.m. By tradition
the duty of mounting the Queen’s Guard is undertaken by one occasionally the
honour is given to a Regiment of the Line* or to one of other Services*. The
ceremony is attended by one of the Regimental bands.
At the Horse Guards* in the Whitehalf the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard
Of Household Cavalry* takes place at 11 a.m. on weekdays and at 10 a.m. on
Trooping the Colour*
It is annual ceremony which blends two ancient military custom-guard mounting
and lodging the colours. It recalls the day when each company of soldiers had
its own colours clearly visible as rallying points in dust and confusion of
battle. Each evening the colours were ceremonially carried down the ranks and
escorted to a billet be lodged for the night.
From this derives the magnificent display of the marching and wheeling by the
Regiments of the brigade of Guards, which marks the Sovereign’s Birthday (in
June). __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
At different traditional ceremonies you will see bright and very picturesque
uniforms worn by the guards, troopers and sentries of her Majesty’s own Royal
Guards Regiments. The troopers of the horse Guards regiment which has existed
since the 12th century, have bright red gold uniforms, shining
top-boots, golden helmets with features.
The Gurkha soldiers* wear high Gurkha fur hats.
Drums are drumming, banners are flying, the drummer’ sticks and flying up in
2. Lord Mayor’s Day
Lord Mayor* of London lives in the City – in the Mansion House* – a big,
impressive house with a classic front very much like a Greek temple.
The Lord Mayor is the first citizen of the City and the first Magistrate*. He
has the Keys of the City. No troops are allowed to cross the limits of the
City, neither King or Queen are allowed to come here without his permission.
The Lord Mayor is elected every year by the Aldermen and every year on the
second Saturday in November there is a great ceremony – “The Lord Mayor’s
The streets are packed with people, nobody wants to miss the great event. The
Lord Mayor is dressed in a traditional medieval red velvet robe with fur, and a
golden chain, and a fantastic hat. He has flowers in his hands . the escort
clad in picturesque 17th century uniform according to tradition,
the Household Cavalry, the State Trumpeters and several military bands all lend
additional splendour to the scene.
The Lord Mayor drives slowly through the cheering crowded streets from the
Guildhall* to the High Court of Justice* to receive from the magistrates the
key of the City. The gilded historic carriage (300 years old) is drawn by
six horses in red and gold harness. After the election the Lord Mayor holds
his Grand Banquet in the Guildhall of the Corporation of the City.
3. The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower
Every night at 9.53 p.m. the Chief Warder of the Tower carries out the time-
honored routine of locking up the Tower. Known as the Ceremony of the Keys,
this has taken place almost without a break for 700 years. The Chief Warder
and his escort of four approach the gates. The sentry calls out:
“Halt, who comes there?”
“Queen Elisabeth’s Keys.”
“Advance, Queen Elisabeth’s Keys. All is well.”
The custodians of the Tower are the Yeomen Warders*, known as “Beefeaters”*.
They wear a state dress uniform dating from Tudor times. It consists of funny
flat hats, trousers bound at the knee, and the Royal monogram on their
breast. These traditional medieval clothes make the old castle look still
more fantastic and theatrical. Nowadays these Yeomen-Warders act as guides
taking tourists around the Tower and telling them numerous histories and
legends associated with place. Usually they are veterans of the Second World
War. Often you will see war medals on their traditional uniforms.
A number of ravens have their home at the Tower, and they are officially “on
the strength of the garrison”. There is a superstition that when the ravens
fly away the Tower will be the sign of the downfall of the British Empire.
Because of this superstition the wings of the ravens are regularly clipped.
The Tower is one of the oldest historical monuments of London. It dates from the
11th century. In 1088 William the Conqueror, selected this place for
election of the White Tower and in later years various kings extended the
defences of the fortress.
In its long history the Tower has served as fortress, Royal palace and
prison. Sir Thomas More, Author of the famous Utopia, Sir Walter Releigh,
navigator explorer and historian, Henri the Eight’s, queens Anne Boleyn and
Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes, to mention but a few were among the numerous
“privileged” people beheaded in the Tower. Perhaps the blackest of the many
crimes committed in the Tower in those troubled time was the murder by the
tyrannical Richard the Third of the two boy princes.
Now the Tower is a museum. You can see there a great collection of weapons of
different times, tools of torture, knights’ armour, numerous Royal Regalia-
swords, scepters, crowns. Tourists are usually attracted by the famous and
priceless Crown Jewels. The imperial State Crown, for example contains 2.783
diamonds, 277 pearls, 14 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 5 rubies.
IV. SOME TRADITIONS UF UNIVERSITY LIFE
Cambridge is situated at a distance of 70 miles from London; the greater part
of the town lies on the left bank of the river Cam crossed by several
Cambridge is one of the loveliest towns of England. It is very green
presenting to a visitor a series of beautiful groupings of architecture,
trees, gardens, lawns and bridges. The main building material is stone having
a pinkish color which adds life and warms to the picture at all seasons of
The dominating factor in Cambridge is University, a center of education and
learning. Newton, Byron, Darwin, Rutherford and many other scientists and
writers were educated at Cambridge. In Cambridge everything centers on the
university and its Colleges, the eldest of which was founded in 1284. They
are 27 in number. The college is a group of buildings forming a square with a
green lawn in the center. An old tradition does not allow the students to
walk on the grass, this is the privilege of professors and head-students
only. There is another tradition which the students are to follow: after
sunset they are not allowed to go out without wearing a black cap and a black
The University trains about 7.000 students. They study for 4 years, 3 teams a
year. The long vacation lasts 3 months. They are trained by a tutor; each
tutor has 10-12 students reading under his guidance. There is a close
connection between the University and colleges, through they era separate in
theory and practice.
A college is a place where you live no matter what profession you are trained
for; so that students studying literature and those trained for physics
belong to one and the same college. However the fact is that you are to be a
member of a college in order to be a member of the University.
The students eat their meals in the college dining-hall. At some colleges
there is a curious custom known as “sooncing”. If a should come late to
dinner or not be correctly dressed or if he should break one of the little
unwritten laws of behaviour, then the senior student present may order him to
be “soonced”. The Butler brings in a large silver cup, known as “sconce cup”,
filled with offender, who must drink it in one attempt without taking the cup
from his lips. (It holds two and half pints). If he succeeds then the senior
student pays for it, if not, the cup is passed round the table at the expense
of the student who has been “sconced”. Now the origin of this custom.
Until 1954, undergraduates (students studying for the first degree) had to
wear cloaks, called gowns, after dark, but now they are only obliged to wear
them for dinner and some lectures. This tradition is disappearing, but one
which is still upheld is that of punting on the Cam. It is a favourite summer
pastime for students to take food, drink, guitars (or, alas, transistor
radios) and girl friends on to a punt (a long, slim boat, rather like a
gandola) and sail down the rive, trying very hard to forget about exams. Many
students feel that they have not been christened into the University until
they have fallen into the River Cam. This has almost become a tourist
Students also have an official excuse to “let themselves loose” once a year
(usually in November) on Rag Day*.
On this day, hundreds of different schemes are thought up to collect money
for charity, and it is not unusual to see students in the streets playing
guitars, pianos, violins, singing, dancing, eating fire, fishing in drains
for money, or even just lying in beds suspended over the street swinging a
bucket for money to be thrown into.
Lilies and Roses
On May 21st every year, Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge,
honour the memory of their founder, Henry VI, who died very suddenly, and was
almost certainly murdered, in the Tower of London on that day in 1471. he is
generally supposed to have been killed whilst at prayer in the Oratory of the
Wakefield Tower, and here, on the anniversary, the Ceremony of the lilies and
Roses now takes place. Representatives of both colleges walk in procession with
Beefeaters and the Chaplain of the Tower, and the short service is conducted by
the latter, during which a player composed by Henry himself is said. A marble
tablet in the in the Oratory marks the place where the King is believed to have
died, and on each side of it flowers are laid – lilies from Eton bound with
pale blue silk, and white roses from King’s College, bound with purple ribbon.
They are left there for twenty-four hours, and then they are burnt.
V. SCOTTISH TRADITIONS
The thistle is the national emblem of Scotland. This is how,
according to a curious legend, this plant came to be chosen as a badge, in
preference to any other. Many years ago the Vikings once landed somewhere on
the east coast of Scotland. The Scots assembled with their arms and took their
stations behind the River Tay. As they arrived late in the day, weary and tired
after a long march, they pitched their camp and rested, not expecting the
enemy before the next day. The Vikings, however, were near: noticing that no
guards were protecting the camp, they crossed the Tay, intending to take the
Scots by surprise. For this purpose they took off their shoes so as to make the
least possible noise. But one of them stepped on a thistle. The sudden and
sharp pain he felt caused him to shriek. The alarm was given in the Scots'
camp. The Vikings were put to fight, and as an acknowledgement for the timely
and unexpected help from the thistle, the Scots took it as their national
The Scottish national costume (Highland dress) includes a kilt
worn by men. For day wear, the kilt is worn with a tweed jacket, plain long
socks, a beret and a leather sporran, that is, a pouch hanging from a narrow
belt round the hips. The Scottish beret — tam-o'-shanter — is a woollen cap
without a brim but with a pompon or a feather on top, traditionally worn pulled
down at one side. It got its name after Tam o' Shanter, the hero of Burns's
poem of that name.
The Gaelic word "clan" means "children", and the central idea of a clan is
kinship. Nowadays it refers, as a rule, only to Highland families, in
Scotland. A clan is a family, and theoretically the chief is the father of
it, although not every clansman can be a direct descendant of the founder.
Many people in Scotland today will be surprised to learn that those who
founded the present clans were not themselves always Highlanders, but
included Normans (Gordon, Eraser), Bretons (Stuart), Flemings (Murrey,
Sutherland). Irish (MacNeil), and Norsemen (MacLeod), Mac meaning "son of".
Concerning that early period of their settlement, which was between the
eleventh and fourteenth centuries, we must not be dogmatic on the subject of
nationality; the important point is that all these were "incomers" to the
When the incomers acquired their land they virtually took over a good many
people who were living on it, and who, perhaps, were already formed into a
family or clan unit. Gradually the old clan came to acknowledge the
protection of their new leader, and at last built up a nominal kinship with
him. In course of time intermarriage made it difficult to determine how far
this kinship was nominal and how far real.
Under the patriarchal system of clanship, which reached its peak in the
sixteenth century, order of precedence was strictly observed. First, after
the chief himself, came members of his immediate family, his younger sons and
grandsons, and then the clansmen. All of them, whether connected by blood or
not, owned a common heritage of loyalty as clansmen. In return for the help
and support of his clansmen, the chief was their leader in war and their
arbiter in peace. Even in the early days the king was, in theory at least,
the "chief of chiefs", and as the royal power spread through the Highlands
the chiefs were made responsible for the good conduct of their clansmen.
Among the most famous clans were: Campbell, Fraser, Munro, Cameron, Stewart,
Murray, MacDonald, Maclean and Mackenzie.
The great period of the clans declined by the beginning of the eighteenth
century and the failure of the Jacobite Risings in 1715 and 1745 completed
the destruction. But today clan societies flourish in Scotland and, perhaps
more ' bravely, elsewhere in the world. These societies are acquiring land
and property in their respective clan countries, financing magazines,
establishing museums to preserve the relics, founding educational trusts, and
— perhaps above all — keeping alive the family spirit.
Tartan is and has for centuries been the distinguishing mark of the
Highlander. It has a long history. Evidence can be brought to show that as
long as the thirteenth century, and probably earlier, Highlanders wore
brightly coloured striped or checked tartan plaids, which they called
"breacan". There is some controversy about clan tartans as such.
Traditionalists state the Highlanders wore tartan as a badge so that they
could recognize each other and distinguish friend from foe in battle. Like
many theories, this looks well on paper, but in practice it seems to break
down. Even though the old tartans were simpler than the modern ones, they
could not easily be recognized at a distance.
On the other hand, various descriptions can be quoted to show that, in the
Highlands, the patterns of the tartans were considered important. A district
tartan is a very natural development in a country divided into small
communities. By the sixteenth century the particular patterns of tartan worn
in a district were connected with the predominant local clan. But the study
of the portraits shows that there was no uniformity of tartan even in the
early eighteenth century. Members of the same family are found wearing very
different tartan and, what is more surprising, many of the men are seen to
wear the kilt of one tartan and a Jacket of another. The history of
development of tartan was sharply broken in 1747, when wearing of Highland
dress was forbidden by law after the failure of 1745.
In the early years of the nineteenth century efforts were made to collect
authentic patterns of each clan tartan, but this does not seem to have been
very successful. The fashion for tartan was fostered by the amazing spectacle
of a kilted King George IV at holyrood in 1822, and demands for clan tartan
poured into the manufactures. The wave of enthusiasm for tartan outstripped
the traditional knowledge of the Highlanders, and it was at this time and in
response to popular demand that a great many of familiar present-day tartans
became associated with their respective clans. Some of the patterns had
previously been identified by numbers only, while some were invented on the
spot, as variations of the old traditional patterns.
The term "Highland dress'' has not always meant the same thing. In the
seventeenth century the ki1t was not worn. Clansmen wrapped themselves in a
generous length of tartan cloth some sixteen feet wide. The upper portion
covered the wearer's shoulders, and it was belted at the waist, the lower
portion hanging in rough folds to the knees. In the eighteenth century, this
belted plaid was superseded by the kilt. Modern Highland dress consists of a
day-time kilt of heavy material, sometimes in a darker tartan, worn with a
tweed jacket, while for the evening finer material, possibly in a brighter
"dress" tartan, can be matched with a variety of accessories.
Food and Drink
What sort of food has Scotland to offer the stranger? Scotland produces a
number of dishes: Scots collops – a savoury dish popularly known as "mince",
small mutton pies which must be served piping hot and the immortal haggis.
And no country has a greater variety of puddings and pies, creams, jellies,
The excellence of Scottish soups has been attributed to the early and long
connection between Scotland and France, but there are some genuine soups,
such as Barley Broth, Powsowdie or Sheep’s Head Broth. Hotch Potch or Harvest
Broth. Baud Bree (Hare Soup) is flavoured with toasted oatmeal and Cullen
Skink is made with a smoked haddock.
Plenty of ingenuity is shown, too, in the preparation of both oatmeal and
milk. Porridge, properly made with home-milled meal and fresh spring water,
and served with thin cream or rick milk, is food for the gods. Lastly there
is the national oatcake, which is described as “a masterpiece” by the French
As a nation the Scots are definitely better bakers than cooks. To beat the
best Edinburgh bakers one must go, it is said, all the way to Vienna. There
is an endless variety of bannocks and scones: soda scones, made with
buttermilk, girdle scones, potato scones, without which no Glasgow Sunday
breakfast is complete. Also the pancakes, the crumpets, the shortbread that
melts in the mouth, buns of every size and shape! They are on offer in
The Scottish housewife likes to buy her meat fresh and sees that she gets it.
She likes the meat off the bone and rolled, as in France, and the Scottish
butcher is an artist at his trade. Most of the cuts are different from
England and have different names. Sirloin, one would understand, but what is
Nine Holes? Steak is steak in any language, but what is Pope's eye?
And then the puddings! The black puddings, the white puddings, the mealy
puddings. And king of puddings, the haggis! I once asked a Scot: "What's in
a haggis?" His answer was: "I know. But I know no reason why you should. All
you need to know is that it should be served with mashed potatoes and bashed
neeps (turnips), and you must drink whisky with it. You will discover that
the oatmeal in the haggis absorbs the whisky, and so you can drink more of
it. What else do you need to know?" "A recipe of haggis", was my answer.
"Hell, well, here you are", said my friend: B ounces of sheep's liver, 4
ounces of beef suet (fat), salt and pepper, 2 onions, 1 cup of oatmeal. Boil
the liver and onions in water for 40 minutes. Drain, and keep the liquid.
Mince the liver finely, and chop the onions with the suet. Lightly toast the
oatmeal. Combine all the ingredients, and moisten the mixture with the liquid
in which the liver and onions were boiled. Turn into a sheep's stomach, cover
with grease-proof paper and steam for 2 hours.
Although the Scots are not a nation of beer-drinkers in the sense that the
English are, some of the best beers in the world are brewed in the Lowlands of
Scotland. But however good Scots beer and ale are, it is universally known that
the glory of the country is whisky. Scotch whisky was a
by-product of traditional Scottish thrift. Frugal Scots farmers, rather than
waste their surplus barley, mashed, fermented and distilled it, producing a
drink at first called uisge beatha, Gaelic for "water of life", and now simply
called whisky. No one knows when the Scots learnt the art of distilling, though
it may have been before they arrived from Ireland in the fifth century AD, for
in Irish legend St Patrick taught the art. The first mention in Scottish
records of a spirit distilled from grain does not occur before 1494.
Today there are two kinds of Scotch whisky — the original malt whisky, made
by the centuries-old pot-still process from barley that has been "mailed" or
soaked and left to germinate; and grain whisky, made from maize as well as
matted and unmalted barley. Most of the well-known brands of Scotch whisky
are blends of many different grain and malt whiskies. The technique of
blending was pioneered in Edinburgh in the 1860s, and a taste for the new,
milder blended whiskies quickly spread to England and then to the rest of the
Barley is the raw material of the malt whisky distiller. The first process in
making whisky is mailing — turning barley into malt. Mailing begins when the
distiller takes delivery of the barley, usually in September or October, soon
after it has been harvested. The barley is in grain form, and must be ripe
and dry, otherwise it may turn mouldy and make properly controlled mailing
impossible. The barley is cleaned, weighed and soaked for two or three days
in tanks of water. Then it is spread on the malting floor, where it
germinates for 8-12 days, secreting an enzyme which makes the starch in
barley soluble and prepares it turning into sugar. The barley is regularly
turned over to control its temperature and rate of germination. The warm,
damp, sweet-smelling barley is passed to the kiln for drying, which stops
germination. It is spread on a base of perforated iron and dried in the heat
of a peat fire. Distillery kilns have distinctive pagoda-shaped heads. An
open ventilator at the top draws hot air from the peat fire through the
barley. This gives it a smoky flavour, which is passed on to the whisky. The
barley has now become malt — dry, crisp, peat-flavoured, different from the
original barley in all but appearance. It is ready for the next stage in the
process — mashing. It is stored in bins and then it is weighed to ensure
that the right amount of malt is passed to the mill below, where it is
ground. The ground malt, called grist, is carried up to the grist hopper and
fed in measured quantities into the mash tun. There the grist is mixed with
hot water and left to infuse. This extracts the sugar content from the malt.
The sugary water, called wort, is then drawn off through the bottom of the
mash tun. This process is repeated three times, and each time the water is at
a different temperature.
For centuries, Scotch whisky has been made from mailed barley mixed with
yeast and water, then heated in pear-shaped containers called pot stills. The
early Highland farmers who distilled their own whisky heated their pot stills
in huge copper kettles over a peat fire. Smoke from the peat added to the
whisky's flavour. Big modern distillers use basically the same technique. The
vapour that rises in the still is condensed by cooling to make whisky. The
shape of the still affects the vapour and so helps to give the whisky its
taste. The most important single influence on the taste of Scotch whisky is
probably the Scottish water. This is why distilleries are situated in narrow
glens or in remote country near a tumbling stream.
The whisky comes colourless and fiery from the spirit receiver. In the spirit
vat it is diluted to about 110 degrees proof before being run into oak casks
to mature. Today, 100 degrees proof spirit by British standards is spirit
with 37.1 per cent of alcohol by volume, and 42.9 per cent of water.
Scotch whisky cannot legally be sold for consumption until it has matured in
casks for at least three years. The time a whisky takes to mature depends on
the size of the casks used, the strength at which the spirit is stored and
the temperature and humidity of the warehouse. A good malt whisky may have
been left in the cask for 15 years, or even longer. Air enters the oak casks
and evaporation takes place. Eventually, the whisky loses its coarseness and
becomes smooth and mellow.
There are more than 100 distilleries in Scotland and the whisky made in each
has its own distinctive character. Some distilleries bottle part of their
spirit and sell it as a single whisky; but most whiskies go to a blender. As
many as 40 different single whiskies may be blended to make up the whisky
that is eventually sold. So specifically associated with Scotland has whisky
he-come that the mere adjective SCOTCH requires no noun to be supplied in
order that people should know what is meant.
Burns Night (25 January)
The anniversary of the poet's birth, is celebrated in every corner of
Scotland, and indeed wherever a handful of Scots is to be found. There are
hundreds of Burns Clubs scattered throughout the world, and they all
endeavour to hold Burns Night celebrations to mark the birth of Scotland's
greatest poet. The first club was founded at Greenock in 1802. The
traditional menu at the suppers is cock-a-leekie soup (chicken broth),
boiled salt herring, haggis with bashed neeps (turnips), and champit tatties
(mashed potatoes) and dessert. The arrival of the haggis is usually heralded
by the music of bagpipes. The haggis is carried into the dining room behind a
piper wearing traditional dress. He then reads a poem written especially for
the haggis! "The Immortal Memory" is toasted, and the company stand in silent
remembrance. Then fellows dancing, pipe music, and selections from Burns's
lyrics, the celebration concluding with the poet's famous Auld tang Syne.
Loch Ness and the Monster
Whatever it is that stirs in Loch Ness, it is no newcomer. An inscription on
a fourteenth-century map of the loch tells vaguely but chillingly of "waves
without wind, fish without fins, islands that float". "Monster" sightings are
not limited to Loch Ness: Lochs Awe, Rannoch, Lomond and Morar have all been
said to contain specimens. The Loch Ness Monster owes its great fame to the
opening of a main road along the north shore of the loch in 1933. Since then,
distant views of "four shining black humps", "brownish-grey humps" have kept
visitors flocking to the loch. People who have seen the phenomenon more
closely say that it is "slug-like" or "eel-like", with a head resembling a
seal's or a gigantic snail's, while the long neck is embellished with a
horse's mane. Its length has been estimated at anything between 8 and 23
metres, and its skin texture la "warty" and "slimy". Close observers, too,
particularly Hr George Spicer and his wife who saw it jerking across a
lochside road in 1933, have declared it "fearful".
It is not surprising that such waters, cupped in savage hills, should produce
legends. Loch Ness is part of the Great Glen, a geological fault that slashes
across Scotland like a sword-cut. The loch itself is 24 miles long, about a
mile broad and has an average depth of 400 feet. Loch Ness has one direct
outlet to the sea, the shallow River Ness, and it is fed by eight rivers and
innumerable streams, each of which pours the peaty soil of the hills into the
loch. Consequently, the water is dark. Divers working with powerful arc lamps
15 metres below the surface have been unable to see for more than 3 metres
Over the past 40 years, sightings have been claimed by more than 1000 people.
Most of the sightings were in bright sunlight conditions of flat calm, and
several of the witnesses were trained observers — soldiers, doctors, seamen.
Though many of the sightings were from a distance, witnesses have been
convinced they were looking at a large animal, most of whose body was hidden
beneath the water.
If it exists, it is most unlikely that the Loch Ness monster is a single
animal. A prehistoric creature, living alone in Loch Ness, cut off from
others of its kind, would have to be millions of years old. For the species
to survive there must be quite a large colony. The colony theory is also
supported by nearly simultaneous sightings in different parts of the loch.
According to naturalists, the chances of the creature being a reptile are
remote. Though Loch Ness never freezes, its temperature never rises above 6°C
and this would be too cold for any known species. Also, reptiles breathe air,
and would have to surface more frequently than the monster appears to. Though
most zoologists deny the possibility that a large and unknown animal might be
living in Loch Ness, it is remarkable that the mystery continues; and it is
perhaps more exciting than any final scientific solution.
Everybody knows about Gretna Green, the famous Scottish village just beyond
the border. In the old days runaway couples escaped from England to Gretna
Green to get married. The practice started in the year 1774. In that year a
bill was passed in England forbidding marriages of person under eighteen
without their parents’ consent. In Scotland the legal age limit was sixteen –
and still is for that matter. What is more, until the year 1856 the young
couple could be married at once at any place in Scotland, without having to
stay there for some time.
You may ask why all those young people chose Gretna Green for their wedding.
After all, there are many romantic places in Scotland. The answer is simple.
Gretna Green was the nearest village across the Scottish border, only ten
miles of Carlisle, on the main highway. To get there took the least time and
the least money.
The blacksmith at Gretna Green was always ready to perform the marriage
ceremony at a small fee. The formalities were very simple. All that was
needed was a declaration made by the young couple in the presence of two
witnesses. Visitors of Gretna Green can still see the old blacksmith’s shop
and the famous marriage room in it.
The old tradition is still remembered. Many young couples who cannot get
married in England because they are under age still think it romantic to go
to Gretna Green. But today they must have enough money to stay there for
Perhaps the most distinctive event at a Highland Gathering is “Tossing the
Caber” – or, as the sixteenth-century writer called it, “throwing the bar”.
The caber is the trunk – of a fir tree 20 feet long and ten inches (25 cm)
thick at the bigger end. Its weight is about 100 kilos and it needs two or
three men to lift it upright with the thick end at the top. The competitor
then lakes hold of it and rests it against his shoulder. He takes two or
three steps and then throws it so that it turns a complete somersault. The
straightest throw, that is nearest to 12 o’clock in direction, gets the most
points. If none of the competitors is able to toss the caber, a bit is sawn
off the end, and then, if necessary, another bit, until at last one
Another feat of strength is throwing the hammer. This has a long handle and
weighs ten kilos. The competitor is not allowed to run, he stands still and
sweeps it round and round his head several times.
For all events, except races, the kilt must be worn. For highland dances, of
which there are many varieties, the competitors wear full highland dress.
This includes a smart jacket worn with coloured buttons and a “sporran” or
purse made of fur, which hangs at the waist. The mast difficult and intricate
of the dances is the sword-dance, performed over a pair of crossed swords
which must not be touched by the dancer’s feet.
VI. WELSH TRADITIONS
St. David’s Day (1st March)
Dewi (“David” in English), was the son of a Welsh chieftain. He was brought up
as a Christian and went abroad to learn more about the life of a monk. Then he
returned to Wales and founded many monasteries which became centers of religion
and learning in the Welsh countryside. The monks lived a simple life of player,
growing their own herbs and vegetables and offering generous hospitality to
anyone in need. Because David’s holiness and his inspiring teaching, he was
made a bishop. The center of his bishopric was in the settlement we now know as
St. David’s on the Western tip of the country of Dyfed.
David is thought to have died on 1st march, AD 589, and his shrine at
St. David’s was a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Later, when people of
North and South Wales became one nation, he was chosen as the patron saint of
A legend tells how David suggested that his people should wear a leek in
their bonnets during battles so that they could be easily recognized; Welsh
Guards are still distinguished by a green and white plume in their black
bearskins. At Windsor, on the Sunday nearest St. David’s day, it is now a
tradition that every member of the Brigade of Welsh Guards is given a leek by
a member of the Royal Family. However, as St. David’ Day is celebrated at the
beginning of Spring when daffodils, are blooming, this flower has become a
second, more graceful emblem of Wales. David’s own emblem is a dove.
It is said that David had a sweet singing voice. He encouraged his monks to
sing as well as possible for the glory of God, and perhaps this was the
beginning of the Welsh tradition of fine made-voice choirs.
Many churches are dedicated to David in southwest Wales, and if you are
traveling there, you might visit the cathedral at St. David’s. Other places
too are called after the saint, and you may visit Llandewi or Capel Dewi or
The Welsh "national" costume seen on the dolls and
postcards is largely a myth created for tourism. Certainly, the
seventeenth-century country women wore long coloured skirts, a white apron and
a tall black hat, but so did English women at that time. In the nineteenth
century, the idea of a national costume was born and this pleased both tourists
and locals, although there is no evidence at all of a long-lost costume.
The Welsh Eisteddfodau
No country in the world has a greater love of music and poetry than the
people of Wales. Today, Eisteddfodau are held at scores of places throughout
Wales, particularly from May to early November. The habit of holding similar
events dates back to early history, and there are records of competitions for
Welsh poets and musicians in the twelfth century. The Eisteddfod sprang from
the National Assembly of Bards. It was held occasionally up to 1B19, but
since then has become an annual event for the encouragement of Welsh
literature and music and the preservation of the Welsh language and ancient
The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales is held annually early in August, its
actual venue varying from year to year. It attracts Welsh people from all
over the world. The programme Includes male and mixed choirs, brass-band
concerts, many children's events, drama, arts and crafts and, of course, the
ceremony of the Crowning of the Bard.
Next in importance is the great Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod.
held early in July and attended by competitors from many countries, all
wearing their picturesque and often colourful national costumes. It is an
event probably without parallel anywhere in the world. There are at least
twenty-five other major Eisteddfodau from May to November. In addition to the
Eisteddfodau, about thirty major Welsh Singing festivals are held throughout
Wales during the same period of time.
Lovespoons were given by suitors to their sweethearts in Wales from the
seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. The custom of giving lovespoons
died out in the nineteenth century but they continued to be carved especially
in some country districts. Making lovespoons became something of an art form
and woodwork competitions and Eisteddfoday often had examples of the genre.
In recent years, interest in lovespoons has reawakened and many people seek
them out as desirable keepsakes. Visitors to Wales, particularly from
overseas, wanting something uniquely Welsh to remind them of their visit
often choose a lovespoon. There is also a growing tendency for Welsh people
themselves to give lovespoons as gifts to commemorate special occasions — a
new baby, a birthday, an impending marriage, a retirement or to celebrate a
success of some kind. Lovespoons also make excellent Christmas presents.
Today, when most people have neither the tine nor the inclination to carve
their own lovespoons, the accepted practice is to buy a ready-made example of
the craft or to commission one of the woodcarver specialists to make one.
Since pre-history, beautiful, hand-carved objects have had ceremonial,
romantic and religious significance: long incense and cosmetic spoons, for
example, have survived from Egyptian times. In the Middle Ages, a pair of
knives in a sheath was considered a worthy gift and it was common for a
bridegroom to present his bride with one: such sets were known as "wedding
The history of kitchen utensils and the spoon belongs to Western culture. The
history of the lovespoon belongs to Welsh romantic folklore.
From the mid-seventeenth century, lovespoons were carved from wood in Wales
and there is one dated 1677 in the collection at the Welsh Folk Museum in
Cardiff. It is amazing that it has survived because wooden objects are not
From the seventeenth century, the custom grew for a young man to give a spoon
to the lady who took his fancy. Thus, particularly attractive young ladies
might be given a number of spoons from aspiring suitors. It may be that
modern word, "spooning" indicating a closer development of a relationship, is
derived from this practice of giving a love token.
Early lovespoons were carved from sycamore which was readily available in the
low-lying country districts of Wales. The main tool used was a pocket knife.
Those who made such spoons were amateurs and it was a way of passing the time
on long winter evenings. Imagine a young man busily shaping a spoon in a
small room lit only by candlelight or the glow of a fire.
Numerous examples of lovespoons have been found throughout Wales but the
giving and receiving of a spoon did not develop into "a ritual of betrothal".
Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that giving a lovespoon expressed
a desire for a relationship and was not an affirmation that a relationship
had already begun.
Some young men did not have the time or the skill to carve their own spoons
and professional lovespoon carters emerged. It was again, a question of
demand and supply. Spoons were bartered for or purchased from these skilled
craftsmen and a tradition of spoons made by the same wood worker grew in the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was no wonder then, that the spoon
became more decorative and elaborate.
A number of design factors should be mentioned in relation to spoon carving
including size, weight, colour and the nature of the completed artefact. As
far as size is concerned, the earliest spoons were little bigger than the
modern teaspoon, their use was limited, and larger spoons soon came to be
carved. This meant that the handles, in particular, could be more and more
elaborate. As they became more decorative, the spoons were displayed by
hanging them on the wall in the living room or parlour. The weight and type
of wood used for such a spoon depended on the setting in which it was to be
displayed. Softwoods were often preferred and the colour selected so that it
would look good against a wall.
A great deal of imagination was used in the creation of lovespoons. This
elaboration was gradual. Two or even three bowls were carved instead of one
to make it more interesting and attractive. Eventually, the bowl became less
important and attention turned first to the handle and then to embellishments
or additions to the handle. Sometimes the handle was enlarged or made
rectangular in shape. At other times, filigree was added. The handle was
pierced, cutting designs in fretwork or carving in relief were devices to add
interest and meaning to the spoon. In this way, symbols were incorporated:
hearts, locks, keys, shields, anchors and wheels were favoured themes.
A heart or a series of hearts was the most popular expression of love used on
spoons. These might be single or entwined to suggest that the boy and his
girl would soon feel the same way about each other. As the spoons became more
decorative, their utilitarian use ceased altogether and they were used more
for display. The heart was also an attractive and convenient device for
suspending the spoon on a wall. Indeed, most spoons have a device for hanging
them up, indicating that they were decorative rather than functional.
Anchors in particular were popular: the suitor has found a berth where he
wished to stay. Many lovespoons were the work of seafarers who whiled away
the tedium of a voyage by whittling. Besides anchors, ropes and cable designs
often appear, as do vessels, steering wheels and various other nautical
Locks (keeping love or a lover safe), keys (unlocking love), miniature
cottages and houses are recurrent themes with associations of lovers making a
life together. The key may have a triple significance for it may indicate
unlocking the door to the heart, it may indicate maturity (reaching 21 and
the key to the door theme) or it may mean "let's live in marriage together".
Chain links look very difficult to carve and are another development of the
whittler's art showing the woodworker's skill. Suggestions are that the links
symbolically "link" the sweethearts together in love and possibly
It must be stressed that many assumptions have been made about the
meanings of the motifs which appear on lovespoons. Imagery is always
difficult to explain and certain motifs may have had more personal
significance for the donor than can be appreciated by the casual observer.
Spoons were not mass-produced but made by one individual for another and many
relied on personal nuances other than symbols to convey meaning.
Some spoons are dated. If the couple eventually marry, they then become a
keepsake of the suitor's original interest. Other spoons are personalized
either by initials or by an emblem of the occupation or the interests of the
donor or donor. Often a carver wishes to incorporate a date, a monogram, a
motto, a name or a quotation into a carving. If he wants to keep it a secret,
he may work the date or name into the design.
Nationalistic emblems such as a daffodil, a leek, the word Cymru or even a
dragon are sometimes used, but they are usually to be found on modern spoons.
Some spoons are intended to be in the nature of Valentines and to be
anonymous. It is difficult to understand, though, that someone who had spent
many hours creating such a gift would not want his work to be appreciated.
Others are decorated with dual initials, those of the suitor and his lady or
with a single initial when we are left to guess whether this represents the
donor or the donor. But we must try not to read too much into the minds of
the carvers of earlier days. Whatever we think, we cannot help being amazed
by the consummate skill of these lovespoon craftsmen.
The Welsh National Game
Rugby is a form of football. It is named after Rugby School in Warwickshire
where it was developed, though the exact date (1823 or later) is in dispute.
Rugby is the national game of Welsh team was thought to be the best of the
world. The rules of the game are rather complicated but mainly involve the
carrying of an egg-shaped ball over your opponents’ line and pressing it
firmly on the ground to score a try. A team consists of fifteen players,
eight of whom are usually much bigger and heavier than the rest. Their job is
to win the ball so that the three-quarters can run forward over the line,
trying to avoid the tackles of the opposing team. Often the heavier forwards
can be seen pushing together in a scrum, trying to kick the ball backwards.
Although the game seems to be similar to American football, the players are
not allowed to throw the ball forward. Other point can be won by kicking the
ball between the special “H” – shaped goal – posts.
When the Welsh side are playing at home at Cardiff Arms Park their supporters
often try to encourage them to play better by singing the Welsh National
anthem, “Land of My Fathers”. The sound of thousands of Welsh voices singing
this famous song usually helps the Welsh side to score another try to win the
game. Naturally they are especially pleased when this is against the English!
VII. TRADITIONS OF NOTHERN IRELAND
St. Patrick’s and the Shamrock
St. Patrick’s Day is the seventeenth of March, and Irish men and women
everywhere, together with a good many English people as well, try to obtain
a sprig of shamrock to wear on that day. For St. Patrick is the patron saint
of Ireland, and the shamrock is his special emblem.
Nearly every one must know the story of how it became so. He was preaching,
standing out of doors on a little hill, trying to make his hearers understand
the doctrine of the Trinity, how Three Persons could yet be one God. Unable
to make them see, he stooped and picked a spray of shamrock, the little
three-leaved plant growing among the grass at his feet. Holding it up, he
explained that, as the leaves were still only one leaf since they all
radiated from a central point, so Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, although Three
Parsons, were yet but one God. And so, in memory of their patron saint and in
honour of their country, the Irish people wear sprays of shamrock on St.
St. Patrick’s Day, later, became associated with a custom which the saint
would certainly have condemned had he been alive to do so during the time it
was in vogue – it has practically died out now. It was called “Drowning the
shamrock”, and it consisted simply in drinking excessively of spirits and
beer. Two or three hundred years ago, some one started a legend that St.
Patrick had taught the people of Ireland how to distil whisky, and those who
liked strong drink were quick to seize the chance to indulge their taste. It
become the practice of innkeepers to offer their customers free meals on St.
Patrick’s Day, consisting of very salt fish with a glass of beer or whisky to
wash it down. The generosity paid the innkeeper handsomely, for the fish was
always so salt that it took many more than the one free drink to quench the
thirst of his customers afterwards, and the extra drinks, of course, would
all have to be paid for.
In conclusion, I would like to say, that Great Britain has a lot of
interesting and original traditions. People respect their customs and try
observe them, although traditions are in very big number.
The aim of my work was helpful people, who prepare to make journey to Great
Britain; helpful acquaint with customs, manners of behaviour, habits of the
people. Studying them help us to understand better the English way of life.
Bar of the House of Lords – решетка Палаты Лордов, за которую допускаются
bearskin – медвежья шапка (английских гвардейцев)
Beefeater – лейб-гвардеец
Beefeaters – стража королевских замков
Changing of the Guard – смена караула
court – двор (королевский)
deny royal access – отказывать королю в праве заходить в парламент
Footguards – гвардейская пехота
gargling water – вода без полоскания горла
Gentleman-at-Arms – лейб-гвардеец при королевском дворе
Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod – пристав чёрного жезла
Guildhall – ратуша в Лондоне
Gun Powder Plot – Пороховой заговор
Gurkha soldier – солдат полка курков
Her Majesty – Её Величество
High Court of Justice – Верховный суд
Horse Guards – конная гвардия
Household Cavalry – гвардейская кавалерия
Sunday Observance Laws – законы, запрещающие развлечения в воскресенье
Lord Mayor – лорд мэр
Mace – булава, жезл
Magistrate – член городского магистрата
Magna Carta – Магна Карта (1215г.), Великая Хартия Вольности
Mansion House – резиденция лорда мэра
pageantry – пышное зрелище
pub – пивная, трактир
Public Bill – законопроект
pursuivants – служащие в коллегии герольда
Rag Day – день студенческих шуток
Regiment of the Line – армейский полк
Queen’s Life Guard of Household Cavalry – личная охрана королевы из состава
royal ceremony – торжественная церемония с участием королевы
“tellers” – счётчики голосов в парламенте
Sergeant-at-Arms – парламентский пристав
Service – род войск
taburds – камзол гарольда
trooping of the colour – вынос знамени (церемония)
woolsack – набитая шерстью подушка, на которой сидит лорд-канцлер в палате
Yeomen Warders – иомены-смотрители, охраняющие Тауэр
1. Кощеева Н.Е. English Reader Part II. English National Traditions
2. Пинягин Ю.Н. Великобритания: история, культура, образ жизни. –
Пермь: Изд-во Перм. Ун-та, 1996. – 296.
3. Сатинова В.М. Читаем и говорим о Британии и британцах. Мн.: Выш. шк.,
1997. – 255с.
4. Традиции, обычаи и привычки. М.: ИНФРА-М, 2001. – 127с.
5. Lilies and roses / English 1996 №18
6. Feasts in March / English 1998 №15
7. Pubs in Great Britain / English 1997 № 41