There are fewer public holidays in Great Britain than in other European countries. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring Bank Holiday and Summer Bank Holiday. Public holidays in Britain are called bank holidays, because the banks as well as most of the offices and shops are closed.
The most popular holiday is Christmas. Every year the people of Norway give the city of London a present. It's a big Christmas tree and it stands in Trafalgar Square. Central streets are beautifully decorated.
Before Christmas, groups of singers go from house to house. They collect money for charity and sing carols, traditional Christmas songs. Many churches hold a carol service on the Sunday before Christmas.
The fun starts the night before, on the 24th of December. Traditionally this is the day when people decorate their trees. Children hang stockings at the end of their beds, hoping that Father Christmas will come down the chimney during the night and fill them with toys and sweets.
Christmas is a family holiday. Relatives usually meet for the big Christmas dinner of turkey and Christmas pudding. And everyone gives and receives presents. The 26th of December, Boxing Day, is an extra holiday after Christmas Day. This is the time to visit friends and relatives or perhaps sit at home and watch football.
New Year's Day is less popular in Britain than Christmas. But in Scotland, Hogmanay is the biggest festival of the year.
Besides public holidays there are some special festivals in Great Britain. One of them takes place on the 5th of November. On that day, in 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I. He didn't succeed. The King's men found the bomb, took Guy Fawkes to the Tower and cut off his head.
Since that day the British celebrate the 5th of November. They burn a dummy, made of straw and old clothes, on a bonfire and let off fireworks.
This dummy is called a "guy" (like Guy Fawkes) and children can often be seen in the streets before the 5th of November saying, "Penny for the guy." If they collect enough money they can buy some fireworks.
There are also smaller, local festivals in Britain.