Independence Day is a new holiday in our country. On the 12th of June, 1992, the first President of Russia was elected.
We also celebrate Day of Defender of Motherland on the 23d of February, Easter, Day of knowledge and lots of professional holidays.
There is one day a year when all Americans stay home with their families and eat a big dinner. This is Thanksgiving Day.
The pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1621. The pilgrims sailed to America on board the "Mayflower" ship for religious freedom. They were among the first European settlers in America.
There were people living in America before the pilgrims arrived. These people were the Native American Indians. The pilgrims first winter in the New World was very difficult. They had arrived too late to grow many crops. Without fresh food half of the pilgrims died. The following spring the Indians taught the pilgrims how to hunt, fish, plant and survive in America. The crops did well and in the fall of 1621 pilgrims had a great harvest. They were thankful and decided to celebrate with a Thanksgiving feast. They prepared a dinner of turkey, corn, beans and pumpkins. They invited their Indian friends to share this feast. The Indians brought food for the feast too (they even brought popcorn!).Americans still celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the fall. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Turkey is still the main dish and pumpkin pie is the most popular dessert.
New Year's day.
At midnight on 31st December bells will ring out around the world to welcome the New Year.
Although certain countries and religions calculate time by other calendars most countries in the world now number their years according to the Gregorian calendar introduced in the 16th century by Pope Gregory XIII. This calendar was intended to overcome the confusion caused by calculating time according to the moon's phases.
Bell ringing is one way of celebrating the arrival of a new year which is common to all countries welcoming it at this time; but it is the differences in their celebrations and customs which are intriguing. In Europe traditions vary considerably, but most of them involve a meal or special food.
Swiss housewives bake special bread, rich in butter, eggs and raisins. They also cook roast goose. Children go from house to house greeting the occupants and receiving invitations to come inside.
People in Italy hold all-night parties, where salt pork lentils are included on the menu. Lentils are supposed to be lucky and bring money - perhaps because they look like small piles of gold coins. There is a practical reason for meals featuring in these new year festivities.
Also there is common superstition that if the new year begins well it will continue like that. So great efforts are made to provide an atmosphere of goodwill and plenty. Parties are arranged a drink flow freely.
In Spain it is a custom to eat grapes at midnight and toast the new year in champagne at family gatherings.
Groups of friends visit restaurants in Turkey intending to spend the night in celebrations which include present giving.
A people in Greece play cards, hoping that a win will bring them luck for a whole year.
Halloween, name applied to the evening of October 31, preceding the Christian feast of Hallowmas, Allhallows, or All Saints' Day. The observances connected with Halloween are thought to have originated among the ancient Druids, who believed that on that evening, Saman, the lord of the dead, called forth hosts of evil spirits. The Druids customarily lit great fires on Halloween, apparently for the purpose of warding off all these spirits.
Among the ancient Celts, Halloween was the last evening of the year and was regarded as a propitious time for examining the portents of the future. The Celts also believed that the spirits of the dead revisited their earthly homes on that evening.
After the Romans conquered Britain, they added to Halloween features of the Roman harvest festival held on November 1 in honor of Pomona, goddess of the fruits of trees.
The Celtic tradition of lighting fires on Halloween survived until modern times in Scotland and Wales, and the concept of ghosts and witches is still common to all Halloween observances. Traces of the Roman harvest festival survive in the custom, prevalent in both the United States and Great Britain, of playing games involving fruit, such as ducking for apples in a tub of water. Of similar origin is the use of hollowed-out pumpkins carved to resemble grotesque faces and lit by candles placed inside.
St. Valentine's Day.
St. Valentine's Day has roots in several different legends. One of the earliest popular symbols of the day is Cupid, the Roman god of Love, who is represented by the image of a young boy with a bow and arrow.
Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14,Valentine was beheaded. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter signing it, "From Your Valentine".
Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by ail, wrote notes from his jail cell to children and friends who missed him.
February 14 was also a Roman holiday, held in honour of a goddess. Young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities.
St. Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day that you show your friend or loved one that you care. You can send candy to someone you think is special. Or you can send roses, the flower of love. Most people send "valentines", a greeting card named after the notes that St. Valentine wrote from jail. Valentines can be sentimental, romantic and heartfelt. They can be funny and friendly. If the sender is shy, valentines can be anonymous.
Americans of all ages love to send and receive valentines. Handmade valentines are created by cutting hearts out of coloured paper. Valentines can be heart-shaped, or have hearts, the symbol of love, on them. In elementary schools, children make valentines for their classmates and put them in a large decorated box, similar to a mailbox. On February 14, the teachers open the box and distribute the valentines to each student. After the students read their valentines, they have a small party with refreshments.
You can write a short rhyme inside the heart:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you!
Or you can buy valentines with messages in them. If you are shy, you can sign it, "Your Secret Admirer".
Every country has its own customs and traditions. English people are proud of their traditions and they keep them up. It is difficult to speak about England without speaking about its holidays. Christmas Day is among them.
All English people celebrate Christmas (or X-mas) on the 25th of December. What kind of holiday is it? It is the yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It falls on December 25 by the Catholic Church and on the 7th of January by the Orthodox Church. This holiday means the beginning of the new year and the new life.
English people celebrate this holiday with the evergreen tree - Christmas tree. Children rut along sock, called a Christmas stocking at the end of their beds and Santa Claus conies down the chimney to bring them presents.
Christmas Day is the greatest holiday in England. It is interesting to visit the shops before this holiday. There are a lot of nice Christmas cards and presents there. English people like this holiday very much and prepare for it beforehand. They buy presents for each other, try to send Christmas cards for their relatives and friends.
It is interesting to visit London during this holiday. There is a Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. We can see many lights, toys and sweets all over this tree. Everywhere you can see slogans "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".
1 Н.И. Гез, М.В. Ляховицкий, А.А. Миролюбов, С.К. Фоломкина, С.Ф.Шатилов. Методика обучения иностранным языкам в средней школе. М., 2002