Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) – 5th November
This event is celebrated in Britain every year on 5th November in memory of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which a group of Roman Catholics planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament (Westminster, London) while King James I was inside.
Guy Fawkes, the leader, was caught in the cellars with gunpowder and the plot was discovered. He and all the other conspirators were put to death.
Originally, Bonfire Night was celebrated as a victory for Protestants over Catholics, but the festival is now enjoyed by everyone.
Many people have private bonfire parties in their gardens with fireworks. Large, public events are organized by local councils.
“Please to remember,
The Fifth of November,
I know no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”
Halloween – 31st Octber
This is the night of 31st October, when people once believed that ghosts could be seen.
Some people hold Halloween parties, which are fancy dress parties – people dress up as witches, ghosts, make lanterns out of pumpkins and play ‘trick or treat’.
However, this day is observed much more energetically in the USA than it is in Britain.
Wikipedia link for further info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallowee
Here are some festive facts to get you even more in the mood for Christmas...
1 US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world's presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
2 DESPITE the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew's Gospel refers to merely "wise men".
3 HANGING stockings out comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas's donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
4 THERE is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.
5 NEARLY 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
6 JESUS was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.
7 THE abbreviation Xmas isn't irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
8 MANY theologians estimate that Jesus wasn't born on December 25 but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.
9 JAMES Pierpont's 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving.
10 BEFORE turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig's head and mustard.
11 THE Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year's Day.
12 SANTA has different names around the world - Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
13 THE word Christmas comes from the Old English "Cristes maesse" meaning "Christ's Mass".
14 SINCE 1947 Oslo has sent an Xmas tree to London to thank us for our help in the Second World War.
15 SANTA Claus comes from a Dutch folk tale based on Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who gave gifts on December 6.
16 BOXING Day (26th December) in Britain gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.
17 RUDOLPH the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm's Christmas promotion in 1938.
18 THE first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
19 HANGING presents on trees may come from the Druids who believed the tree was the giver of all good things.
20 THE Beatles hold the record for most Xmas number 1 singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.