There are eight public, or bank holidays in Great Britain, that is, days when banks and offices are closed. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Mayday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. The observance of these days is no longer limited to banks. All the public holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day observed on the 25 and 26 of December respectively, do not fall on the same day each year. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though for the greater part of the population they have long lost they religious significance and are simply days on which people relax and make merry. Certain customs and traditions are associated with most bank holidays. The reason is that many of them are part of holiday seasons, like Easter and Christmas seasons. Besides public holidays, there are celebrations, festivals, and simply days, on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, there are ordinary working days.
February, 14 is St. Valentine's Day. It is a day for choosing sweethearts and exchanging love tokens. Generations of young people have considered St. Valentine to be the friend and patron of lovers and have sent gifts and hand-made valentines to their sweethearts. A valentine was a colourful card with a short verse composed by the sender. Now thousands of ready-made valentines are sent through the post every year.
Pancake Day is a popular name for Shrove Tuesday — the last day of enjoyment before the fasting of Lent. On this day Christians confessed their sins to a priest. Many people still traditionally eat pancakes. One of the main events of this day is the pancake race at Olney. The competitors in the race are local housewives who make their pancakes and run from the village square to the church.
The fourth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday — a day of small family reunions. On this day absent sons and daughters return to the homes and make gifts to their mothers.
April, 1 is April Fool's Day — the day when practical jokes are played* Any person may be made in April Fool between midnight and noon. Children are, of course, very keen supporters of the tradition. You can step in a basin of water, or receive a letter with a deceiving message. If you are young and innocent, you can be sent to fetch some non-existing thing, like pigeon's milk.
Another popular British tradition is Halloween, celebrated on October, 31, the eve of All Saints9 Day. Halloween's customs dated back to a time, when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts. They thought that they could do all kinds of damage to property. Some people tried to ward off the witches by painting magic signs or nailing a horseshoe. Today the day is marked by costume-balls or fancy-dress parties. On the night of Halloween children or grown-ups visit houses and ask the residents if they want 'trick' or 'treat'. If the people in the house give children a 'treat' (money or sweets), then the children will not play trick on them. Another Halloween custom is to scrape out a pumpkin, cutting eyes, nose and mouth in its side and lighting a candle inside. This is made to scare the friends.