celticblues5: Sure, you know who Guy Fawkes was, but do you know how they celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in Britain today?
An electric shower is an electric water heater that does not contain a storage tank. It is a plastic-covered box mounted on the wall above the bathtub. You turn it on when you start to take a shower. Cold water flows into it and is heated right before it flows out though the nozzle. You control the temperature with a dial. Some also contain a pump to increase pressure. It saves energy by heating only as much water as you need, right when and where you need it. As far as I know, every British home has one. Americans find it a little scary to be touching a device that carries 230 volts or so while standing in the shower, but apparently they are well insulated and quite safe. (American showers are always connected to the central water heater, which is always on.)
McGrath of Harlow: My reason for mentioning bank holidays was as follows: American holidays are always meant, in theory at least, to commemorate something, and they always have some sort of ritual or tradition associated with them. Maybe the average American doesn't give a rip whether the Italian-American Association places a wreath on a statue of Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day, or whether some high-school student won a prize for the best recitation of the "I Have a Dream" speech on Martin Luther King Day, but those things happen, and are duly reported in the news media. The British attitude seems to be different: we don't need to commemorate anything; we just want to have a day off; so let's close the banks and call it a bank holiday. Thus I think it is a real cultural difference (although you might think it a trivial one) and not just a difference in terminology.
Penny S.: I was told that Brits eat pancakes only on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). Is that right? And do they eat them for breakfast, or what? Americans have several things they sometimes eat for breakfast with syrup: pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Maple syrup is the best, made from the sap of real maple trees, but cheaper substitutes are more common.
Marymac90: Christmas number one, as I understand, is whatever record (or nowadays, CD) happens to be number one on the pop charts at Christmas. It's a big deal because apparently a lot of Brits buy records as gifts or to play at Christmas parties, so more records are sold right before Christmas than any other time. Bookies take bets on what song will be Christmas number one. And Christmas number one is frequently a "novelty" or comedy record. Benny Hill once made it with his recording of "Ernie."
MMario: While the majority of American bars don't offer free munchies, some do. I know two that always have fresh popcorn available, and there used to be some around here that had salted-in-the-shell peanuts (they encouraged customers to throw the shells on the floor), but I think they gave that up when peanuts became too expensive. Free munchies tend to be salty, so they encourage you to drink more.
Need I mention that, in America, popcorn is served with salt and sometimes butter (or fake butter) but not sugar?