Ресурсный Центр – Traditions

School Traditions

My school life is connected not only with studies but with many other important things. When I think about my school years I recollect a lot of events.  Many of them became traditions because they happen every year on the same dates. Some traditions are similar in all Belarusian schools, some are unique.

The school year starts on the 1st of September. This day is special for all: school children, their teachers and parents. The day starts with the school gathering when all classes and teachers stand in front of the school and listen to the welcoming speeches of their teachers, schoolmates and parents. Students look really nice in their new school uniforms. Everyone is excited to see their school friends and teachers after long summer holidays. After the school gathering teachers take their classes to their classrooms for the first lesson. When the lesson is over, students may have a class event – a picnic or a walk in the park or a class trip. The events on this day are usually the same every year but everyone waits for this day, likes it and remembers it.

Every year in September we have the opportunity to show our athletic skills and abilities during our Sports Day. Though we have Sports weeks every season this day is also among our favourite school traditions. There is a wide range of activities. It opens with a running race. Then we have competitions in different sports, we play sports games, run, jump, climb a wall. Everyone from the 1st to the 11th class takes part in some events. The day finishes with a Closing ceremony where winners get their prizes.

Of course we never forget to congratulate our teachers on Teacher’s Day. Some of our best students take part in School Olimpiads. Very soon we’ll have our last and traditional School leavers’ Party.

I think I will never forget my school, teachers, classmates and our school traditions.


Customs and Traditions

Let’s talk about Belarusian customs and traditions.

So many countries so many customs, an English proverb says. The combination of the words tradition and custom means a usual manner of doing something, of conduct passed on from generation to generation.

By comparing the customs and cultures of people from other countries, we can learn how others view the world and why they think the way they do. By understanding others, we can not only form deeper friendship with others but can also learn more about ourselves and our own culture.

Having a holiday is great fun in many ways. Firstly, people have a day off. Secondly, it’s a variety and change from everyday routine. Every country has got its own national and religious holidays. In our country there are several public holidays that are observed nationwide and are official days off.

There are many traditions connected with such holiday as the New Year, Christmas and Easter. The preparation for these holidays starts long before they come. About a fortnight before the New Year the streets in our city are decorated with colourful lights, the shop windows display a wide choice of New Year decorations and Christmas gifts. Of course different people choose different ways of celebrating them. New Year is traditionally a family holiday with a New Year tree, plenty of delicious food, presents and good wishes. Some people either take part in festivals arranged in parks and squares or go to parties or restaurants.

Orthodox Christmas comes a week after the New Year and this week in Belarus is called Kalyady. During the Christmas week street festivals of all kinds take place in the cities and towns of Belarus. For religious people this holiday is of special meaning. So they go to churches and take part in different religious celebrations.

What can you tell me about your favourite holiday?

My favourite holidays are the New Year, Christmas and Easter. Though we are not a religious family and we don’t go to church regularly, but we respect national traditions and my grandmother always dyes eggs red and makes Christmas cakes and Easter pies. These holidays are always connected with warm feeling and pleasant emotions.

What can you tell about Kupalle celebration in Belarus to your British friend?

Kupalle is the most loved and celebrated pagan holiday in Belarus. Kupalle is celebrated in the night from the 6th of July to the 7th of July. In ancient times young girls used to go into the meadows to collect plants and herbs – cornflower, ferns, etc. It was believed that the plants gathered at that time had special magic and strength and could protect people and their homes from illnesses and evil spirits. That’s why some of these plants were used in food, some were put up on the walls of the houses, and some – in the wreaths worn on the head by young men and women during the Kupalle celebration.

The central part of Kupalle celebration was a fire, which symbolized life. There were a lot of purification rituals during the celebration – jumping over the fire, bathing in the river, rolling in the grass dew. There would be a lot of dancing in karagods, competing in strength, fortune-telling and looking for a blossoming fern flower – “paparats kvetka”.

Special ritual food was cooked on the fire – fried eggs, kulaha (a sort of pudding made of wheat flour), vareniki (stuffed with blueberries, raspberries, cherries).

A lot of this tradition is followed today.

What questions can you ask your friend about her best school celebration?

– How often do you have school celebrations?

– Do you decorate the assembly hall?

– Do you organize any contests?

– What prizes do you prepare for the winners?

What national souvenirs will you recommend a British tourist to buy?

Straw weaving is a very old craft that has been known in our country for many centuries. It has become an identity card for Belarusian art. Straw horses, spiders, as well as beautiful and useful objects of everyday life were made out of straw and used both for decorating homes and for the storage of goods and foods. Even Belarusian children’s toys and dolls were often made out of straw. And, of course, we can’t forget traditional straw hats of Belarusian men – a”bryl”. In the gallery of straw art you can not only see and buy a fantastic straw souvenir, but also visit Belarusian Festival of Straw and try making a straw item with your own hands with the help of the best Belarusian masters of straw art and crafts.

Do you think it is important to follow our grandparents’ traditions? Why? 

Belarusian national culture is rooted in old antiquity. Belarusian nation has stored tremendous spiritual treasures that reflect the versatility (многосторонность) of its intellectual, moral, aesthetical and other being. Belarusian culture has always maintained its national traditions, at the same time remaining an integral part of the world cultural heritage.

So we are responsible for this heritage and shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of those generations that destroyed our national treasures and forgot our history.


Family traditions

Let’s talk about family traditions

Family is very important for every person, because it gives you a sense of stability and tradition, a feeling of having support and understanding. You feel secure when there’s a family behind you. They are the people you can trust and rely on, the people who won’t let you down and who share your joys and sorrows. In happy families parents are frank and honest with their children, they treat their children with respect without moralizing or bossing them, and children in their turn learn how to treat other people and how to form relationship with their peers.

I enjoy the honest and open relationship in my family. I like it when parents trust their children, give them enough freedom and respect them. I think these things make family relations warm and pleasant. There is no so-called “generation gap” in our family, though we may argue and disagree on certain issues. I can always bring my friend home and my parents are very positive about it, although they don’t always approve of our tastes, views and clothes.

I guess when people spend more time together they are closer to each other.

We have some family traditions. But to my mind we haven’t got anything special or original in our family. All our family traditions are connected with some holidays. Apart from national holidays there are family holidays like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. A birthday is always a happy event in our family. On these days we usually have a party. Friends and relatives come with flowers and gifts and a festive dinner is served with plenty of delicious food to eat. Afterwards the guests either dance or sing, listen to music or just chat. One more family tradition is spending summer holidays together either at the seaside or in the country, which I enjoy very much. I’d like to become more independent from my parents in future, nevertheless we’ll always be the best friends because my parents are the most important people in the world.

Are there any things that you do with your parents together?

My parents are the most important people in the world. You know, my parents and I are usually very busy during the weekdays and we seldom have a chance to spend time together. Sunday is the day when we can sit at a table and talk over everything that happened during the week. Eating together makes us feel close and we often have our most useful conversations at these times. Almost every weekend we visit our grand parents, sometimes we visit my uncle (aunt) and his family.

Also once a week my parents give the flat a big clean. Of course I help them with it. By the way it’s not so boring. I play music and we even have fun. Then we may go shopping together. I like to go shopping with my parents because they always buy me something. During our shopping rounds we discuss a lot of things and make plans for the next weekend.

What is your favourite family tradition?

My favourite tradition is to celebrate the New Year. It’s a special holiday with its charm and surprises. We give presents to each other, go for a walk together, visit our grandparents and family friends.

What will you ask your British friend about his/her family traditions?

Have you got any family traditions?

Do you like to spend your free time with your family?

What is the most unusual tradition in your family?

What can you advise people who want to get on well with their parents?

I think we are old enough to realize that adults are not saints and may make mistakes and that the so-called generation gap should not spoil our relations. Good children are prepared to compromise and meet their parents halfway, render any possible help to their parents, treat their parents in the way they would like to be treated themselves.

So first of all I can advise for anyone to try to understand the feelings of your parents and show respect to them. Even if you don’t agree with their thinking, try to make them understand politely, don’t use harsh words with them which may hurt. It’s important to celebrate your parents’ and grandparents’ birthdays. It will make them realize that you care for them.

Do you often spend your free time with your parents?

To tell you the truth, I don’t often spend time together with my family on weekdays. But on Sunday we try to organize something to have time for each other. We visit our grandparents and friends, go shopping, go for a walk or just eat out.

In summer we often go somewhere together to the seaside or to the country. I like such holidays because usually we have a lot of fun.


Traditions of an English-speaking country

Let’s talk about customs and traditions of an English-speaking country

The British have many traditions, manners and customs of which they can be proud. English traditions can be subdivided into the traditions dealing with private life of the English national and religious holidays, public celebrations, traditional ceremonies and traditional sporting events. To know the customs and traditions means to understand the people, their art and culture better.

England has preserved its old ceremonies and traditions to a greater extend than any other country in the world. Most of these traditions have been kept up without interruption since the thirteenth century. Foreigners coming to England are impressed by a great number of ceremonies which seem to be incompatible (несовместимый) with the modern traffic and technical conditions of a highly developed country.

Though there are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, the days on which people need not go to work. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Year’s Day is also a public holiday. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it would be right to say that for the greater part of the population they have long lost their religious significance and simply days on which people relax, eat, drink and make merry.

Besides public holidays, there are other holidays, anniversaries and simply days off, for example Pancake Day and Bonfire Night, on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, they are ordinary working days.

Do you find some British holidays and traditions special? Why (not)?

When people come from other countries they usually look for something special and traditional in this country.

Every year on the 5th of November Bonfire night is celebrated all over the UK. It goes back to the discovery of the so-called Gunpowder Plot. The event is commemorated by fireworks and burning “guys” on bonfires.

Traditionally, 41 days before Easter Sunday is a special day for Christians, called Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. It is the day before Lent starts. On Pancake Day people used to celebrate the last day before Easter when they could eat what they wanted. All over England there were pancake races on or near Shrove Tuesday. The tradition is still around today. The rules of pancake races are different in different places, but each participant, usually a woman, has to wear an apron and a hat or a scarf.

Would you like to take part in a British holiday celebration? Why?

If I had such a chance it would be Christmas.

Christmas is the main public holiday in Britain. It is celebrated on the 25th 0f December. Christmas is a Christian festival to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. This holiday is celebrated together with family, relatives and friends who share the much loved customs and traditions which have been around for centuries.

Long before Christmas time shops become very busy, because a lot of people buy Christmas presents. People also buy Christmas cards to send to their friends and relatives, watch nativity plays and go carol singing. They put up Christmas decorations inside and outside homes and decorate Christmas trees too. The traditional Christmas decorations are evergreens, such as holly, mistletoe and ivy.

On Christmas Eve (the 24th of December) some people go to a special church service called Midnight Mass which starts at 12 o’clock at night. In churches people sing Christmas carols – special religious songs. Sometimes groups of people walk along the streets and sing carols at the doors of houses. One of the well-known carols is “Silent Night”.

Young children are told that Santa Claus will bring them presents if they are good. Before going to bed on Christmas Eve the children hang stockings at the back of their beds, for Santa Claus to put the presents in when he comes in the middle of the night through the chimney.

Christmas is the day when people stay at home, open their presents and eat and drink together. The most important meal is Christmas dinner. The typical meal consists of turkey with potatoes and other vegetables, followed by a Christmas pudding. Other traditional foods include a special Christmas cake and mince pies — small round cakes filled with a mixture of apples, raisins and spices.

The day after Christmas, the 26th of December, is also a public holiday. It is called Boxing Day. The name goes back to the old tradition: some time before Christmas, boxes were placed in churches for the people to put some money or presents for the poor. On the day after Christmas, the 26th of December, the priest opened the box and gave the contents away to poor people.

What questions can you ask a British teenager about his/her birthday celebration?

Birthdays are always happy events for all children and teens. And of course it’s interesting to know about these celebrations in Britain. So the questions may be:

– Where do you like to celebrate your birthday party?

– Do you prefer to invite your friends and relatives together?

– What presents do you usually get for your birthday?

 What national souvenirs would you buy in Britain?

Typical English presents (souvenirs) to take back home are rather various.

Common themes depicted on many English souvenirs include The Royal Family, Policemen, Royal Guards, London Transport, Union Flag and famous London buildings.

You can buy thimbles (напёрстки), bells, T-shirts, soft toys, models, magnets, pens and pencils, mouse mats, caps, pin badges, post boxes, aprons and much more.

Nowadays more and more people are getting interested in customs and traditions of different countries. What do you think about it?

So many countries so many customs, an English proverb says. The combination of the words tradition and custom means a usual manner of doing something, of conduct passed on from generation to generation.

By comparing the customs and cultures of people from other countries, we can learn how others view the world and why they think the way they do. By understanding others, we can not only form deeper friendships with others but can also learn more about ourselves and our own culture.