The United Kingdom (abbreviated from "The United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland") is the
political name of the country which consists of England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (sometimes known as
Britain is the name of the island which is made up of
England, Scotland, Wales, whereas the British Isles is the
geographical name of all the islands off the north-west coast
of the European continent.
In everyday speech "Britain" is used to mean the United
The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union
Yack, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross on a
white background is the cross of the 1st George, the patron
saint of England. The white diagonal cross on a blue
background is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of
Scotland, The red diagonal cross on a white background is
the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
The Welsh flag, called the Welsh dragon, represents a red
dragon on a white and green background.
St. George's Day falls on 23 April and is regarded as
England's national day. On this day some patriotic Englishmen
wear a rose pinned to their jackets'. A red rose is the national
emblem of England from the time of the Wars of the Roses
St. Andrew's Day (the 30th of November) is regarded as
Scotland's national day. On this day some Scotsmen wear a
thistle in their buttonhole. As a national emblem of Scotland,
thistle apparently first used in the 15th century as a symbol
of defence. The Order of the Thistle is one of the highest
orders of knighthood. It was founded in 1687, and is mainly
given to Scottish noblemen (limited to 16 in number).
St. Patrick's Day (the 17th of March) is considered as a
national day in Northern Ireland and an official bank holiday
there. The national emblem of Ireland is shamrock. According
to legend, it was the plant chosen by St. Patrick to illustrate
the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish.
St. David's Day (the 1st of March) is the church festival
of St. David, a 6th-century monk and bishop, the patron saint
of Wales. The day is regarded as the national holiday of
Wales, although it is not an official bank holiday.
On this day, however, many Welshmen wear either a yellow
daffodil or a leek pinned to their jackets, as both plants are
traditionally regarded as national emblems of Wales.
In the Royal Arms three lions symbolize England, a lion
rampant — Scotland, and a harp — Ireland. The whole is
encircled and is supported by a lion and a unicorn. The lion
has been used as a symbol of national strength and of the
British monarchy for many centuries. The unicorn, a mythical
animal that looks like a horse with a long straight horn, has
appeared on the Scottish and British royal coats of arms for
many centuries, and is a symbol of purity.
1. What does the word "Britain" mean in everyday speech?
2. What is the flag of the United Kingdom made up of?
3. How is the Welsh flag called?
4. What do some Englishmen wear on St. George's Day?
5. What day is regarded as Scotland's national day?
6. What day is a national day in Northern Ireland?
7. What do three lions in the Royal Arms symbolize?
8. What does the unicorn symbolize?