Holidays and Feasts
During the whole year various holidays and feast days are celebrated in Britian, U.S.A. and our country- Czech republic. Some holidays are celebrated in all these countries some are national holidays. One of the biggest holidays of the year is Christmas. It is day, when Christ was born.
Preparations for Christmas start long before in late October or early November. That is when British housewives make their Christmas cakes. These cakes taste much better if made a month or two before Christmas. Some weeks before Christmas the streets and shops are decorated. A lot of British families have Christmas trees made of plastic. There are no candles on them but electric lights. Socks are hung up. Children believe Father Christmas will fill them. He comes on his sledge-pulled by reindeer-very early on the morning of Christmas Day. He enters the house through the chimney and puts the children’s presents into their stockings. They get their presents on Christmas Day and not on Christmas Eve. The dinner on Christmas Day is the „most important“ meal of the year. The British usually have roast turkey and roast potatoes followed by Christmas pudding (also called plum pudding). Christmas pudding is a special rich pudding made with lots of dried fruit, eggs, suet and flour. It is made well ahead before Christmas, boiled for four hours and then heated again on Christmas Day. It will keep for a long time. There is also an old custom of stirring into the pudding a coin, a thimble and a ring to bring wealth, work and a wedding to those who find it. There are plenty of carols on the radio and TV. December 26 is called Boxing Day from the custom in earlier times of giving postmen, milkmen, newspaper boys and the like small sums of money, which they collected in their Christmas boxes.
In our country
Preparations for Christmas begin four weeks before 24 December. This time is called Advent. The housewives bake sweets. Kind of sweets, gingerbread taste much better when made a month before Christmas. Gingerbread is decorated with white icing. Many people make Advent’s wreath with four candles. One of candles is lighted on in every advent’s Sunday. On Christmas Sunday all candles are lighted. During the preparation for Christmas there is a nice, friendly atmosphere. A lot of people buy Christmas tree, but many people have tree made of plastic. The most important day of Christmas is Christmas Eve.
People eat only Christmas cake with tee or coffee for breakfast. They haven’t to eat any meat all day, because according to customer, in the evening they will see the Golden pig. Somebody, mostly mother, prepares the dinner and the tree is decorated with chocolate, sweets, flasks and no candles, but electric lights. During waiting for evening people watch TV, because there are many fairy tales (Cinderella, The very sad princess or The princess with gold star on forehead). The children believe that Christ Child brings the presents and he puts them under the tree. Around six o’clock in the evening a lot of families have Christmas dinner. It is the most important meal of the year. The usually have fried carp with potatoes salad after the lentil or fish soop. The carp taste much better, when it swim a few days in bath before Christmas, because then it don’t smell of pound. Some people give some scales from carp in the purse and they believe according to the custom that they will have much money in New Year. After the big meal the family go to the room, where the tree stand. There are some presents. Children unpack them and they always are happy.
25 Th December people often go visiting their relations and friends. They get presents friend and friends’ get presents them.
One week after Christmas people celebrate the New Year’s Eve. People stay up till midnight to see how the old year out and drink a toast to the New Year. In Britian two months than people celebrated St. Valentine’s Day. It is on 14thFebruary. It is lover’s day. On this day young people send Valentine cards to a person of the opposite sex. The cards have funny, loving or serious contents. This day is celebrated in U.S. and now in our country. All Fool’s Day-On 1st April is day of all foot. It is named after the custom of playing practical jokes and tricks on people and then you can shout “April fool”.
The Easter is celebrated in all countries, too.
The date of Easter is different every year. It’s celebrated after the first full moon in spring. It is a Christian festival, marking the crucifixion and resurgence of Christ. Many people go to church. For some people it is only a spring holiday.
Easter Sunday in U.S. is a special day for many people. Children enjoy the holiday very much. They hunt for coloured eggs, eat chocolate bunnies and wear their best clothes. Legend says that Easter rabbits bring Easter eggs: Once old woman dyed some eggs during a famine and hid them in a nest as a present for her children.
Just when her children found the nest a rabbit leaped away. The rabbit brought the eggs, thought the children. On Sunday morning children start hunting for painted eggs all over the house and garden. Some children have their baskets full of the eggs.
In England Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays (official holidays). On Good Friday hot cross buns are eaten for breakfast. Children look forward to Easter Sunday called Easter Day, which is day for chocolate and painted eggs, the symbol of new life. Easter Monday has no particular customs and in spent in a variety of ways, but either at home or in a countryside the rule is enjoys you.
In our country
In our country the most important day for children especially for boys is Easter Monday. For them Easter Monday is full of fun. There are many groups of boys in the streets from early morning till noon. They visit the girls. Boys have plaits willow cane and they carry small baskets. When they come into a girl’s house they say a rhyme and whip the girl on her legs and bottom. The girl gives them chocolate, Easter eggs or some cake or some money.
St George’s Day is on April 23rd.Georg is the patron saint of England.
On May Day there are political parties.
October 31. Among the old Celts it was the last day of the year and the beginning of winter when witches and ghosts were supposed to celebrate their rites. When the pagans were Christianised, the holiday was converted to the Eve of All Saints Day when the Christian Church honours the memory of the dead. In Britian it is celebrated only in the North of England and in Scotland, but it is generally celebrated in the USA and Canada. Children celebrate it by dressing up in Halloween costumes with masks over their faces. Carrying baskets or bags they go to their friends and neighbours houses and they knock at the door or ring the bell. When people come to the door, children say “Trick or treat” which means “Give us a treat or we will play a trick on you”. The people treat the children with sweets, fruit or money. The most common trick is soaping the windows of houses and cars (that is drawing pictures on the windows with soap). A favourite custom is to make a jack-o-lantern from a pumpkin, which is scraped, out and in which eyes, a nose and a mouth are cut and then a candle is lit inside. People sometimes give parties on Halloween. The guests wear fancy costumes and masks and the rooms are decorated with paper moons, witches and ghosts.
In USA there are different holidays.
One of them is Independence Day July 4.Each city has its own ceremony and parades, band concerts and firework displays in the evening. This day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, thus establishing USA.
Thanksgiving day is celebrated in the U.S. on 4thThursday in November. It remembers the first settlers who came to America in 1620. In 1620 the ship named Mayflower brought one hundred and two English men, women and children to America. They were puritans, members of a religions sect. They called themselves the Pilgrim Fathers. The winter was cold and half of them died. In spring they planted corn and other plants with helps and advice from the Indians. In autumn they celebrated good harvest and had a feast with much food. They called this day their day of Thanksgiving. It is family holiday the whole family gathers together and enjoys a traditional dinner – roast turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The turkey is the glorious centrepiece of the Thanksgiving Day. The turkey should be golden brown on the outside and the inside should be moist and tender. The gravy is thickened juice from turkey that we get during baking. The mashed potatoes can be cream or smooth. For best results, the cranberry sauce should be made about three days in advance. You need water, sugar, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks. Then you add cranberries. The pumpkin pie needs a good crust made from dough. Dinnertime is between 3 to 5 PM. By that time there is a great smell in whole house. The dinner table has special decorations – napkins with Thanksgiving ornaments, small decorative pumpkins, decorative turkey made out of paper and flowers. Favourite colours are orange and brown. The family speak about the thinks for which they are thankful. People give thanks for their being well, for happiness of their families. Many families begin Thanksgiving dinner with a prayer.
St. Patrick’s Day
Though St, Patrick’s Day on March 17, is not an official holiday in the U.S., it is celebrated all over the country. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and Irish immigrants brought this holiday to America. The facts of his life are largely obscured by legend. It is known that he was born about the year 385. He became a monk in France. According to legend he had a vision that called him to return to Ireland to Christianise it. By showing the Irish a shamrock he explained the doctrine of the Trinity. Shamrock is a plant with leaves composed of three leaflets. It is now used as the emblem of Ireland.
An artificial or real shamrock leaf is usually worn on St Patrick’s Day. It is the anniversary of his death though it is not certain in what year he died. People also celebrate this day by wearing something green and getting together to party and sing Irish songs. They are usually a very happy crowd. In many pubs they serve green beer and in most restaurants they offer an Irish menu on that day. People wish each other “A happy St. Patrick’s day” and the Irish wear buttons that read “Kiss me I’m Irish”. In most big cities colourful parades with marching bands mark the holiday to the delight of many onlookers and passers-by. It is estimated that there are about 17 million Irish living in the United States.