There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date, but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.
In Great Britain there are the so called “Bank Holidays” which were first introduced in 1871 by the “Bank Holidays Act”. In general, today’s Bank Holidays are set for New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, the last Monday in May, the last Monday in August and the Christmas holidays from December 25th to 26th. In Northern Ireland there is also St. Patrick’s Day and “Battle of Boyne” public holidays, in Scotland there is no Easter Monday. As a citizen-friendly rule, the rule was introduced that if a public holiday, such as December 26th falls on a Sunday, then December 27th is also declared a bank holiday.
|January 1||New Year|
|17. March||St. Patrik’s Day (Northern Ireland only)|
|March April||Easter (Easter Monday)|
|1st of May||May Day|
|Last Monday in May||Spring Bank Holiday|
|July 12||Battle of Boyne (Northern Ireland only)|
|Last Monday in August||August Bank Holiday|
Britain is a people of sports watching. A large number of national and international competitions are popular and well attended all year round. Many important competitive sports also come from the UK, such as football, golf, tennis and cricket. Although they belong politically to one nation, the British cannot be united in sport and the teams from England, Scotland and Wales usually play as separate national teams, often also in international competitions.
Here are some of the most important sporting events in the country:
- The annual Five Nations Rugby Union begins in February and ends in March. France competes with the teams of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
- The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is a traditional eighth rowing competition between the cities’ two universities. It has been held every March on the Thames since 1845.
- The cup match at Wembley in May is the highlight of national football every year.
- The Grand National in April is one of the most famous horse races in the world and takes place in Liverpool.
- The London Marathon in April attracts thousands of long-distance runners to the capital every year.
- June is the month for the popular international grass tennis tournament at Wimbledon.
- In July, major competitions such as the Royal Ascott horse race and the Henley Royal Regatta rowing competition become all-important high society gatherings where the latest hat collections and sunglasses of the nobility and celebrities seem almost as important as the achievements of the athletes.
- The most important event for Formula 1 racing drivers is the British Grand Prix in Silverstone in July.
- The popular British Golf Championship takes place across the country in July.
- The Cartier International Polo Tournament in Windsor in July is mainly a meeting place for the aristocracy, but also one of the largest tournaments of its kind.
- The Ashes is the most famous and oldest cricket tournament in the country and takes place in the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
- In addition, London is now hosting the Olympic Games in summer 2012, for which preparations are already in full swing.
Great Britain has numerous traditional national customs. Particularly noticeable are the left-hand traffic and other smaller peculiarities that extend from differently functioning taps and door handles to the sockets. The traditional pubs (public houses), which are popular and often visited by all generations, still close very early compared to other countries. The traditional “Sunday Roasts” and “Pub Quizzes” (game evenings) are definitely part of the “pub culture”. The traditional “Builder’s Tea” (black tea with milk) is still one of the favorite drinks of the British, but the well-known “5 o’clock Tea” is now rather a rarity.
What is also unusual in a European comparison is the fact that all public museums (with the exception of temporary exhibitions) are free. They are mainly funded by the state lottery revenue. The much discussed and controversial health system NHS (National Health Service) is also free for all Britons and residents of Great Britain.