Significant Popular Celebrations
- Christmas Day is celebrated on 25th December. It is one of the bank days so schools and most businesses are closed. In the United Kingdom, far more emphasis is put on Christmas Day and Boxing Day coming after it than on Christmas Eve like in other countries. For Christmas Day people decorate their houses with Christmas Trees, colourful lights and other decorations. Many people spend Christmas Day with family members, with whom they exchange gifts and cards. It traditionally celebrates Jesus Christ’s birth but many features of this holiday have pagan origins.
- New Year’s Eve is on the 31st of December, the last day of the calendar year. Businesses have normal opening hours. It is celebrated with social gatherings, where people dance, eat, drink alcohol and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. People spend it with families or friends. Some celebrations can last till early morning. One of the most internationally known symbols of New Year’s Eve is the image of the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster, counting down the last minutes of the old year.
- Hogmanay is a Scots word for the last day of the year and is similar to the celebration of the New Year. It is normally followed by a celebration on the morning of New Year’s Day. The most popular tradition is receiving first-footers which are the first person to cross the threshold of a house after the start of the new year. They are seen as bringers of good fortune for the coming year. The first-footer usually brings several small gifts. In Stonehaven, there is a known tradition of fireball swinging.
- Easter it is celebrated the Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. It is one of the major Christian festivals of the year. It is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it symbolises also the end of Lent, traditionally a time of fasting in the Christian calendar. People paint and decorate eggs which are popular cultural symbols of it. People can go egg hunting in which people search for eggs, real or chocolate ones. Traditional food is Roast lamb for dinner on Easter Day.
- Halloween is celebrated on October 31. It has its origins in pagan festivals held around the end of October in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Dressing up in costumes was supposed to scare off evil spirits of dead people that were believed to walk among the living during that night. Today people dress up for parties while kids go from door to door asking for candies by saying “Trick or treat” and do tricks if they don’t get sweets. Schools, businesses, stores and other organizations are open as usual.