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If you try to catch a train on 24th of December you may have difficulty in finding a seat. This is the day when many people are traveling home to be with their families on Christmas Day, 25th December. For most British families, this is the most im­portant festival of the year; it combines the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ with the traditional festivities of winter.

Most families decorate their houses with brightly-colored paper or holly, and they usually have a Christmas tree in the corner of the front room, glittering with colored lights and decorations.

There are a lot of traditions connected with Christmas but perhaps the most important one is the giving of presents. Family members wrap up their gifts and leave them at the bottom of the Christmas tree to be found on Christmas morning. Children leave a long sock or stocking at the end of their beds on Christmas Eve, 24th December, hoping that Father Christmas5 will come down the chimney during the night and bring them small presents, fruit and nuts. They are usually not disappointed! At some time on Christmas Day the family will sit down to a big turkey dinner followed by Christmas pudding. They will probably pull a cracker with another member of the family. It will make a loud crack and a coloured hat, small toy and joke will fall out!

Later in the afternoon they may watch the Queen on television as she delivers her traditional Christmas message to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. If they have room for even more food they may enjoy a piece of Christ­mas cake or eat a hot mince pie. 26th December is also a public holiday, Boxing Day, and this is the time to visit friends and relatives or watch football.

ST. Valentine’s Day is considered a friend and patron of lovers. For centuries St. Valentine’s Day, February 14th, has been a day for choosing sweethearts and exchanging Valentine cards.

Ghosts and Witches Halloween means 'holy evening', and takes place, on 31st October. Although it is a much more important festival in the United States than Britain, it is celebrated by many people in the UK. It is particularly connected with witches and ghosts.

At parties people dress up in strange costumes and pre­tend they are witches. They cut horrible faces in potatoes and other vegetables and put a candle inside, which shines through the eyes. People may play difficult games such as trying to eat an apple from a bucket of water without using their hands.

In recent years children dressed in white sheets knock on doors at Halloween and ask if you would like a 'trick' or a 'treat'. If you give them something nice, a 'treat', they go away. How­ever, if you don't, they play a 'trick' on you, such as making a lot of noise or spilling flour on your front doorstep!

Guy Fawkes' Night. In 1605 King James I was on the throne. As a Protestant, he was very unpopular with Roman Catholics. Some of them planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th No­vember of that year, when the King was going to open Par­liament. Under the House of Lords they stored thirty-six barrels of gunpowder, which were to be exploded by a man called Guy Fawkes. However, one of the plotters spoke about these plans and Fawkes was discovered, arrested and later hanged. Since that day the English traditionally celebrate 5th November by burning a dummy, made of straw and old clothes, on a bonfire, at the same time letting off fireworks. This dummy is called a 'guy' (like Guy Fawkes) and children can often be seen on the pavements before 5th November saying, 'Penny for the guy'. If they collect enough money they can buy some fireworks.

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