History of Great Britain

Great Britain: General Facts. The History of Great Britain. Culture of Great Britain. The British Education. The Modern British Economy. The Modern British Industry. The Modern British Army. The Two Lessons. "Customs and Traditions of Great Britain".

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12 submarines, nine destroyers and frigates and 13 mine

countermeasures ships; and

327 main battle tanks.

Civilian staff employed by the Ministry of Defence will be re-duced from 169,100 in 1991 to 135,000.

As a member of NATO, Britain fully supports the Alliance's current strategic concept, under which its tasks are to:

help to provide a stable security environment, in which no country is able to intimidate or dominate any European country through the threat or use of force;

serve as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations af-fecting member states' vital interests; deter from aggression and defend member states against military attack; and

preserve the strategic balance within Europe.

8. The Two Lessons

This section of the paper is dedicated to the development of two lessons for the Regional Geography of Great Britain course to be taught in schools. The chosen topics are Customs and Traditions of Great Britain and American English.

Both lessons are intended for 45-50 minutes duration and are of so-called combined type, according to the generally accepted terminology in Russia. The principal scheme of such a lesson can be represented in the following way:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Review of the previous studies (5-7 minutes)

3) New studies (approx. 15-20 minutes)

4) Systematization of the new knowledge and training for it's application in practice (15-

20 minutes)

5) Homework (1-2 minutes)

Lesson organization and review of previous studies are not thoroughly considered here since they depend upon the composition and structure of the whole course, and their development would require knowledge of the previous and the following lessons. We concentrate our attention on the New studies and Systematization of the new knowledge and training for it's application in practice. The main goal of both lessons is to introduce new information and expand student's vocabulary by learning some specific words and expressions related to the considered topics.

8.1. Customs and Traditions of Great Britain

The studies of the customs and traditions of Great Britain here are supposed to be carried out in calendar order, which means that introduction of customs and traditions should begin with winter events and go on throughout the whole year, from December until November.

Lesson topic: Customs and Traditions of Great Britain

Lesson goal: general study of the British customs and traditions

Lesson structure:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Particular review of the previous studies (4-5 minutes)

(We accept) that the previous lesson was dealt with the civic customs of GB.

A student reports a result of his work done on the material of the previous topic that was studied in class. He/she is supposed to talk fluently by memory and speak about one-two civic customs that he'she founds to be remarkable. The report is followed by a brief discussion (3-4 minutes) Approximate variant of the report is as follows:

Some historical and colorful customs belong essentially to a particular town or community because they sprang, originally, from some part of the local history, or from some deep-seated local tradition. No doubt, such customs, along with various religious customs and traditions, attached to certain calendar dated, constitute the soul of British social culture and are of great interest for a researcher.

At Lichfield, a festival commonly called the Greenhill Bower and Court of Array takes place annually in late May or June. This is really two customs, of which the first - the Bower - is said to run back to the time of King Oswy of Northumbria, who founded Lichfield in A.D. 656. In the Middle Ages, the city guilds used to meet at Greenhill, carrying flower garlands and emblems of their trades. Now the Bower ceremonies have become a sort of carnival, wherein lorries carrying tableaux, trade floats, decorated carts, and bands pass cheerfully through streets profusely adorned with flowers and greenery.

The second part of the custom is the meeting of the Court of Array and the inspection of the ancient suits of armour which the city was once obliged by law to provide. By Act passed in 1176, every freeman between the ages of 15 and 60 had to keep a sufficiency of arms and armour, and maintain them in good condition and ready for use. He had also to be able to handle them efficiently himself. Every county had to have its Court of Array whose duty was to see that these regulations were duly carried out by the freemen, and to hold periodical inspections of the weapons and suits of armour provided by them.

3) New studies (approximately 20 minutes)

This part of the lesson is dedicated to the present topic: the Winter holidays. It basic part represents a text which must be read and immediately translated by paragraphs, one paragraph by every student, one by one. The text is approximately following:

The Christmas Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on 25 December, as well as in the most of European countries. Pope Julius I (A.D. 337-352), after much inquiry, came to the conclusion that a very old tradition giving 25 December as the right date of the Birth of the Lord was very probably true. This date already had a sacred significance for thousands of people throughout the Roman Empire because it was the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, and also the chief festival of the Phrygian god, Attis, and of Mithras, the soldier's god, whose cult was carried to Britain and many other countries by the Roman army. In the barbarian North, also, the long celebration of Yule was held at this period. The Christian Church, therefore, following its ancient practice of giving Christian meaning to pagan rituals, eventually adopted 2 December for the Christmas Day.

Many of the British modern Christmas customs and traditions are directly derived from pagan ceremonies belonging to ancient midwinter feasts. One of the oldest is probably the decoration of houses with greenery. Evergreens, which are symbols of undying life, were commonly used to adorn the dwellings of forefathers, and their sacred buildings, at the time of the winter solstice, and they have been so used ever since.

The curious custom of kissing under the mistletoe seems to be altogether English in origin, and to appear in other European countries only when Englishmen have taken it there. It has almost vanished nowdays, but can still be met in the northern regions of England. The kissing bough, the lovely garland that used to hang from the ceiling of the living room in so many houses before the coming of the Christmas tree, had a bunch of mistletoe attached to its base. It was a crown, or a globe, of greenery, adorned with lighted candles, red apples, rosettes and ribbons, with the mistletoe hanging below. Sometimes small presents were suspended from it. The Christmas tree surepceeded it in many homes in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it never faded away altogether.

The Christmas tree came originally from Germany and went to America with German settlers before it reached the British Isles in the first half of nineteenth century. The first Christmas tree in Britain is believed to be set up at a children party in 1821. By 1840 the custom became quite well-known in Manchester, but what really established the Christmas tree and made it one of the British cherished Christmas customs was the setting-up by Prince Albert of a Christmas tree at Windsor castle in 1841. With little more than twenty years, the Christmas trees were to be seen in countless British homes, and thousands were annually on sale at Covent Garden Market. A century later the tradition has overflowed from the houses into the streets and squares. Churches of every denomination have their lighted and decorated trees, and since 1947 Oslo had made an annual gift to the people of London, in the form of an immense tree which stands in Trafalgar Square, close to Nelson's Monument.

The giving of presents and the exchange of Christmas cards are almost equally essential parts of the Christmas festival in Britain today. The first one has its roots in the pre-Christian times, and the latter is little more than a century old. Presents were given to kinsfolk and to the poor at the feast of the Saturnalia in pagan Rome, and so they were at the three-day Kalends of January, when the New Year was celebrated. The Christmas cards began life in the late eighteenth century as the Christmas piece, a decorated sheet of paper on which schoolchildren wrote polite greetings for the season in their best handwriting, to be presented to their parents at the end of the winter term. Sometimes, also, adults wrote complimentary verses for their friends. It is now usually supposed that the artist J.C.Horsley designed the first genuine pictorial Christmas card at the instigation of Sir Henry Cole in 1843.

Father Christmas is the traditional gift-bringer in the United Kingdom. Originally he was Odin, one of the pagan gods that were brought to the British Isles from the ancient Scandinavia. When Christianity swept away the old gods, Odin's role was overtaken by St. Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra during the fourth century, and who now appears in some European countries (such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and others) wearing episcopal robes and a mitre, being accompanied by a servant carrying a sack of gifts.

Still one should note that the pure British Father Christmas seems to have been more a personification of the joys of Christmas than just a gift-bringer. He was first mentioned in a fifteen-century carol, then abolished by Parliament in 1644 (along with everything else connected with the Feast of Christmas), came back after Restoration, and is nowdays one of the British living traditions. In the nineteenth century he acquired some of the attributes of the Teutonic Santa Claus, and now is being thought of as the essential gift-bringer, coming by night from the Far North in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and entering the houses he visits by way of the chimney.

Christmas food has always been largely a matter of tradition, but its nature has changed a great deal with passage of time. The turkey which is now the most usual dish on Christmas Day didn't appear in Britain until about 1542. Its predecessors were goose, or pork, or beef, or a huge pie made up of a variety of birds. In the grater houses venison, swans, bustards, or peacocks in their feathers were eaten. The ancestor of another traditional British food, the Christmas pudding, was plum porridge (until 1670).

Another feature of the Christmas time in Britain is represented by carols, which are the popular and happy songs of the Christian religion which came into being after the religious revival of the thirteenth century, and flourished more strongly in the three centuries that followed. Carols were swept away by Puritanism during the Commonwealth, and they didn't come back into general favor for about 200 years afterwards, but never vanished altogether. Now, nearly all British churches have their carol service. In many towns, the people gather round the communal Christmas tree, or in the town hall, to sing carols under the leadership of the local clergy, or of the mayor.

The 26 December is the St. Stephen's Day, the first Christmas martyr, far better known in England as Boxing Day. A name is derived either from the alms boxes in churches, which were opened, and their contents distributed to the poor on that day, or from the earthenware boxes that apprentices used to carry round with them when they were collecting money gifts from their master's customers. Until very recently it was usual for the postman, the dustman and a few other servants of the public to call at all the houses they have served during the year, and to receive small gifts from the householders on Boxing Day.

Then follows a set (3-4) of brief reports by students on the holidays that follow the Christmas season (that time which is called the Opening Year in GB). Reports are supposed to be prepared at home. The approximate variants of 3 reports are:

- The New Year comes in very merrily in most parts of Britain, with the pealing of bells and the blowing of ships' sirens and train whistles, and singing of the traditional Auld Lang Syne, although the majority know only some of the words. Great crowds assemble outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London to see the Old Year out and welcome in the New. Private parties are held everywhere, and good wishes are exchanged. Some celebrate the occasion more quietly and see a Watch Night service in some Anglican or Nonconformist church.

In the north of United Kingdom, especially in Scotland, the custom of First-footing has been flourishing for centuries. The First Foot is the first visitor to any house in the morning hours of 1 January. He is considered to be a luck-bringer. He is welcomed with food and drink (especially the last one), and brings with him symbolic gifts, which are most usually a piece of bread, a lump of coal, salt, and a little money, all of which together ensure that his hosts will have food and warmth and prosperity all throughout the year.

In Northumberland the New Year is welcomed by a fire ceremony, followed by First-footing. A great bonfire is built in the main square of a town or village, and left unlit. As the midnight approaches, The so-called Guisers in various gay costumes form a procession, each man carrying a blazing tar barrel on his head. Thus crowned with flames and preceded by the band, they march to the bonfire, circulate it and throw their burning barrels on it, setting it on fire. The spectators cheer and sing, and the Guisers go off First-footing all round the perish.

- Another New Year custom is Burning the Bush, not very widely spread now but of great fame in the days gone, especially in the rural England. In former years, almost every home and farm had its own Bush, or howthorn globe which, together with a bunch of mistletoe, hung in the farm kitchen all through the year. At about five o'clock in the morning on 1 January it was taken down, carried out to the first-sown wheatfield, and there burnt on a large straw fire. Then all the men concerned in the affair made a ring round the fire and cried Auld-Ci-der. Afterwards there was cheering, and the drinking of the farmer's health, and feasting upon cider and plum cake. Meanwhile, a new Bush was being made at home and hung up in the place of the old. All this was supposed to bring good luck to the crops.

The Twelfth Night and Twelfth Day - 5 and 6 January - are popularly so called because the mark the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Over the last two centuries, the twelve-day period had steadily shrunk, and now only three days - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the New Year's Day - remain as official holidays. Bonfires are lit on Twelfth Night in many parts of the British Midlands, often 12 in number, with one made larger than the rest, to represent Lord and his Apostles. Sometimes there are 13 bonfires, one standing for Judas Iscariot, which is stamped out soon after it is lit.

- The Monday after Twelfth Day is Plough Monday, a day of rural festivity, especially in the northern counties and the Midlands. Theoretically, work starts again then on the farm, after the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the spring ploughing begins, but in fact, very little work is done.

On 2 February, the double feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Purification of Our Lady is celebrated in Britain. It is popularly known as Candlemas Day because candles are blessed in the churches then, distributed to the congregations, and carried in procession. This custom has existed on the British Isles since the fifth century, as well as in the continental Europe under the Roman Catholic Church influence.

The day after Candlemas is the Feast of St. Blaise, who is the patron saint of wool-combers, and of all who suffer from diseases of the throat. The beautiful ceremony of Blessing the Throat takes place on this day in many English churches.

Another famous and well-known February celebration is St. Valentines Day, on 14 February. The word Valentine has a double meaning. It means the person concerned, the chosen sweetheart, but it is also applied to the Valentine gift or to the Valentine card, which replaced the traditional gift in the nineteenth century as it (the gift) went out of fashion.

4) Systematization of the new knowledge and training for it's application in practice (

20 minutes)

The basis for practical training can be listening to a record of native speaker's narration or any other kind of listening comprehension exercise with following wide discussion on the spoken subject. The whole idea of the lesson is to minimize the amount of time that students spend working with textbook material and maximize the communicative aspect of the lesson. Each exercise should be spoken over by students upon the completion. In course of all conversation, students should tend to apply new words and expressions that they learn while studying the given topic.

5) Homework (2-3 minutes)

The homework, on the contrary, should engage as much textbook/written exercises as possible. It can include writing a short essays on the passed material, preparing reports and dialogs etc. Also there'd be a text on the topic of the following lesson which might undergo analysis at home for further discussion in class. The example of the text is as follows:

Shrovetide and Lent

Shrove Tuesday is the eve of Lent, the last day of Shraft, the end of the short festival season which includes Egg Saturday, Quinquagesima Sunday, and shrove, or Collop, Monday. The English name Shrove is derived from the pre-Reformation practice of going to be shriven on that day in preparation for the once severe fast of Lent. What the British now call the Pancake Bell is supposed to be a signal to start making pancakes. Originally it was rung to call the faithful to church to make their confessions. But though the religious side of Shrovetide was always important, it is also a time of high festivity, renowened everywhere for the playing of traditional games, cock-fighting, wrestling, dancing, feasting upon pancakes and other good things that the coming forty-day fast forbids.

One of the traditional sports of Shrovetide is football - not the organized game we know today, but the old wild type of game without proper rules or set teams, played in the streets and churchyards, and strongly disliked by the authorities. Hurling takes place of football in Cornwall. In this extremely popular Cornish game, the ball is about the size of cricket ball, made of light wood or cork, and thinly coated with silver, and it can be carried, tossed, hurled by the players, but never kicked.

Shrove Tuesday is the one of the traditional days on which in some old-established English schools, the custom of barring-out the schoolmaster can be observed. The children lock the master out of the school, and bargain with him for a holiday that day, or sometimes for a series of holidays in the coming terms. If the master manages to force the entry, the victory is his, and no holiday is granted. But if the children can hold out for the day (or, for three days, in the past), the schoolmaster makes an agreement with them and grants at least some of their demands.

On Ash Wednesday, Lent begins, and from then on there is no true festival date until Mid-Lent Sunday, the fourth in Lent, also known in Britain as Mothering Sunday. On that day, which is a welcome relaxation in the midst of the long, harsh fast, simnel cakes are customarily baked and eaten. The custom can be traced back to the year 1042, and the name simnel is believed to come from the cakes made by Lambert Simnel's father and nicknamed after his son when the latter's rebellion failed. Another version is that the word is derived from the Latin, simila, meaning fine wheaten flour. There are three principal types of simnel cakes, named after the towns which first made them: Shrewsbury, Devizes and the most famous Bury simnel.

On Palm Sunday, a fortnight later, palms are carried in procession in the churches in memory of Christ's entry into Jerusalem.

On Maundy Thursday, the Queen, or in her absence, the Lord High Almoner acting for her, presents the Royal Maundy gifts to as many poor men and as many poor women as there are years in her age. This distribution usually takes place in Westminster Abbey when the date of the year is even, and in some other great cathedral when it is odd. Originally, Maundy Thursday was the day on which the Last Supper eaten by Christ and his Apostles is commemorated. The modern ceremony consists of a lovely and colorful procession, prayers, hymns and anthems, the distribution of Maundy Money, and the final Blessing and singing of the National Anthem.

On Good Friday, countrymen plant potatoes and sow parsley, Sussex people skip, the children in Liverpool burn Judas (a straw-stuffed effigys), and everyone eats Hot Cross buns, which are small, round, spiced cakes marked with a cross. They appear to be the Christian descendants of the cross-marked wheaten cakes which the pagan Greeks and Romans ate at the Springtime festival of Diana.

Many popular superstitions are associated with Good Friday. Blacksmiths do not shoe horses because of the use to which nails had been put, long ago, on Calvary. Miners do not go down the pit, believing that some disaster occurs if they do. Housewives do not sweep their houses because to do so is to sweep away the life of one of the family.

8.2. American English

The basic idea of this lesson is to introduce main lexical and grammatical differences between the British English language and its American variant.

Lesson topic: American English

Lesson goal: study of the basic distinctions between the English language and it's

American dialect, try to apply the knowledge in practice.

Lesson structure:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Particular review of the previous studies (4-5 minutes)

We accept that the there was a homework related to the given topic; it was based on the analysis of the following text:

American English

In the early part of the seventeenth century English settlers began to bring their language to America, and another series of changes began to take place. The settlers borrowed words from Indian languages for such strange trees as the hickory and persimmon, such unfamiliar animals as raccoons and woodchucks. Later they borrowed other words from settlers from other countries - for instance, chowder and prairie from the French, scow and sleigh from the Dutch. They made new combinations of English words, such as backwoods and bullfrog, or gave old English words entirely new meanings, such as lumber ( which in British English means approximately junk ) and corn ( which in British means any grain, especially wheat ). Some of the new terms were needed, because there were new and un-English things to talk about. Others can be explained only on the general theory that languages are always changing, and American English is no exception.

Aside from the new vocabulary, differences in pronunciation, in grammatical construction, and especially in intonation developed. If the colonization had taken place a few centuries earlier, American might have become as different from English as French is from Italian. But the settlement occurred after the invention of printing, and continued through a period when the idea of educating everybody was making rapid progress. For a long time most of the books read in America came from England, and a surprising number of Americans read those books, in or out of school. Moreover, most of the colonists seem to have felt strong ties with England. In this they were unlike their Anglo-Saxon ancestors, who apparently made a clean break with their continental homes.

A good many Englishmen and some Americans used to condemn every difference that did develop, and as recently as a generation ago it was not unusual to hear all Americanisms condemned, even in America. It is now generally recognized in this country that we are not bound to the Queen's English, but have a full right to work out our own habits. Even a good many of the English now concede this, though some of them object strongly to the fact that Americanisms are now having an influence on British usage.

There are thousands of differences in detail between British and American English, and occasionally they crowd together enough to make some difficulty. If you read that a man, having trouble with his lorry, got out his spanner and lifted the bonnet to see what was the matter, you might not realize that the driver of the truck had taken out his wrench and lifted the hood. It is amusing to play with such differences, but the theory that the American language is now essentially different from English does not hold up. It is often very difficult to decide whether a book was written by an American or an English man. Even in speech it would be hard to prove that national differences are greater than some local differences in either country. On the whole, it now seems probable that the language habits of the two countries will grow more, rather than less, alike, although some differences will undoubtedly remain and others may develop.

It also seems probable that there will be narrow-minded and snobbish people in both countries for some time to come. But generally speaking, anybody who learnsto speak and write the standard English of his own country, and to regard that of the other country as a legitimate variety with certain interesting differences, will have little trouble wherever he goes.

Students should translate and discuss this text in class, expressing their understanding of differences between two dialects, and to tell examples of such from their personal experience (if they have any).

3) New studies (approximately 20 minutes)

This section will be very useful if built upon listening comprehension and discussion exercises mainly. Thus students will be given both listening and oral experience of distinguishing between dialects and using their knowledge in practice.

The approximate volume of information for the first (but not the only one!) lesson on this topic is given below, for both lexical and grammatical differences.

3.1.) Lexical difference

Lexical differences of American variant highly extensive on the strength of multiple borrowing from Spanish and Indian languages, what was not in British English.

American variant British variant

Subway underground

the movies the cinema

shop store

sidewalk pavement

line queue

soccer football

mailman postman

vacation holiday

corn maize

fall autumn

Also claim attention differences in writing some words in American and British variants of language.

For instance, following:

American variant British variant

honor honour

traveler traveller

plow plough

defense defence

jail gaol

center centre

apologize apologise

3.2.) Grammatical difference

Grammatical differences of American variant consist in following:

In that events, when British use Present Perfect, in Staffs can be used and Present Perfect, and Past Simple.

Take a shower/a bath instead of have a shower/a bath.

Shall is not used. In all persons is used by will.

Needn't (do) usually is not used. Accustomed form -don't need to (do).

After demand, insist, require etc should usually is NOT used. I demanded that he apologize (instead of I demanded that he should apologise in British variant).

6. to/in THE hospital instead of to/in hospital in BrE.

7. on the weekend/on weekend instead of at the weekend/at weekend.

8. on a street instead of in a street.

9. Different from or than instead of different to/from

10. Write is used with to or without the pretext.

11. Past participle of "got" is "gotten"

12. To burn, to spoil and other verbs, which can be regular or

irregular in the British variant, in the American variant ALWAYS


13. Past Perfect, as a rule, is not used completely.

4) The training of practical application of the new knowledge should be given mainly in the form of listening/spoken exercises.

5) Homework (2-3 minutes)

A good kind of a homework for this particular lesson would be a task to compose a free-style topic in the British English language (about an A4 page in size) and then rewrite it in the American English; then discuss the lexical and grammatical differences between topics in class.


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2. Hogg, Garry. Customs and traditions of England. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1971.

3. Baker, Margaret. Folklore and customs of rural England. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, 1974.

4. Rabley, Stephen. Customs and traditions in Britain. Harlow (Essex), Longman, 1989.

5. Murphy Raymond. English Grammar in Use. - Cambridge University Press, 1997.

6. .. : .// ,1995, 6,. 3-17.

7. .. . .1. , , 2001.

8. Bowle, John. England: A portrait. London, Benn, 1966.

9. Bryant, Arthur. A history of Britain and the British people. London, Collins, 1990.

10. Clark, George. English history: A survey. London, Oxford univ. Press, 1971.


1. Great Britain: General Facts .. 1

2. The History of Great Britain ...1

2.1. Britain in the reign of Elizabeth .. 2

2.2. Britain in the seventeenth century ... 3

2.3. Britain in the eighteenth century . 5

2.4. Britain in the nineteenth century . 6

2.5. Britain in the twentieth century ... 9

3. Culture of Great Britain ... 12

3.1. Cultural Life in Great Britain ... 12

3.2. Musical culture of Great Britain ... 13

3.3. Art Galleries .. 14

3.4. The British Theatre ... 15

4. The British Education .. 15

4.1. The British Schools ... 16

4.2. Universities and Colleges in Great Britain 16

5.The Modern British Economy ... 17

6. The Modern British Industry .18

7. The Modern British Army .... 18

8. The Two Lessons .. 20

8.1. Customs and Traditions of Great Britain ... 20

8.2. American English ... 27

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