England celebrates Guy Fawkes Night more than any other holiday in the year. This day commemorates the defeat of an anti-government plot on November 5, 1605. English Catholics led by Guy Fawkes were caught before they could blow up the Houses of Parliament. Today, on November 5, children make stuffed figures of Guy Fawkes and ask their neighbours for “a penny for the guy.” The money is used to buy fireworks and the guy is tossed into a bonfire.
The nearest Sunday to November 11, Remembrance Day, honours Britain’s war dead. People wear red paper poppies that symbolize the flowers in World War I burial grounds. They attend services at churches and war memorials and observe two minutes of silence. Many families attend morning church services and listen to the Queen’s Christmas message on radio or television. At midday or in the evening, families sit down to a hearty meal, with roast turkey, goose or beef, and a rich Christmas pudding made with dried fruit and nuts and crowned with flaming brandy.
Children usually have two weeks’ holiday at Eastertime. Many families mark Easter Sunday by attending church services, decorating eggs and preparing a special family meal. On Boxing Day, December 26, families thank workers such as tradespeople and letter carriers with a Christmas “box,” that is, a gift of money. For centuries, England did not celebrate a special national holiday. Recently, however, St. George’s Day, April 23, has been celebrated as England’s national day. Some people display flags bearing the red and white cross of St. George, the country’s patron saint, and exchange greeting cards.
Other celebrated holidays which may apply in other countries as well are January 1 New Year’s Day, March or April Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, May 1 May Day, Last Monday in May Spring Bank Holiday, Last Monday in August Summer Bank Holiday, December 25, 26 Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Her Royal Highness cannot be left out, she has two birthdays: her real birthday in April and an official birthday celebrated on a Saturday in June. The highlight of her official birthday is a special parade, known as the Trooping of the Colour, in London.