Everyday life in Great Britain
Talking about the
Wrong side of the bed
Blowing out the candles
Talking about the
The British talk about the weather a lot. For example, "Isn't
it a beautiful morning?" or, "Very cold today, isn't it?" They talk
about the weather because it changes so often. Wind, rain, sun, cloud,
snow - they can all happen in a British winter - or a British summer.
At British banks, shops, cinemas, theatres or bus stops you can always
see people in queues. They stand in a line and wait quietly, often for
a long time. Each new person stands at the end of the queue - sometimes
in rain, wind or snow.
Hundreds of years ago, soldiers began this custom. They shook hands to
show that they didn't have a sword. Now, shaking hands is a custom in
most countries. In Britain you don't shake hands with your friends and
family. But you do shake hands when you meet a person for the first
time. You also say "How do you do?" This is not really a question, it's
a tradition. The correct answer is exactly the same, "How do you do?"
The British sen'd birthday cards and often give birthday presents.
There are cards for other days, too:
Christmas cards, Valentine's Day cards, Mother's Day cards, Father's
Day cards, Easter cards, Wedding Anniversary cards, Good Luck cards,
"Congratulations On Your New Baby" cards, and "Get Well Soon" cards.
It's the custom to have a party to celebrate:
- A person's birthday
- A new house
- Christmas (at home, and often in offices, too)
- An engagement (a promise to marry)
- A wedding (marriage)
- New Year's Eve
side of the bed
When people are bad tempered we say that they must have got out of bed
on the wrong side. Originally, it was meant quiet literally. People
believe that the way they rose in the morning affected their behavior
throughout the day. The wrong side of the bed was the left side. The
left always having been linked with evil.
out the candles
The custom of having candles on birthday cakes goes back to the ancient
Greeks. Worshippers of Artemis, goddess of the moon and hunting, used
to place honey cakes on the altars of her temples on her birthday. The
cakes were round like the full moon and lit with tapers. This custom
was next recorded in the middle ages when German peasants lit tapers on
birthday cakes, the number lit indicating the person's age, plus an
extra one to represent the light of life. From earliest days burning
tapers had been endued with mystical significance and it was believed
that when blown out they had the power to grant a secret wish and
ensure a happy year ahead.