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Holidays, Festivals and Traditions

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Holidays, Festivals & Traditions - nations, minorities, religious or other specific groups of people that share the same cultural aspects(such as history/language/art) often also share the same holidays, participate in and organise similar festivals and keep alive similar traditions - these features, specific to every cultural group, are mostly connected to that group´shistory, itsreligious affiliation or thearea andclimate its members live or used to live in - a large number of holidays, festivals and traditions are common for numerous different cultures(Christmas, for example), while some of them may be related solely to a nation´s one specific historical event, such as the holiday of 17th November celebrating the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989 - holidays and festivals are usually celebrated and organised annually and, therefore, are tied to either aspecific date(like the 4th of July in the United States), to aday of the week in a certain month(for example Easter) or just to one of theseasons(summer music festivals) USA: New Year´s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, St. Valentine´s Day, St. Patrick´s Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year´s Eve UK: New Year´s Day, St. Valentine´s Day, St. Patrick´s Day, Easter, Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas, New Year´s Eve New Year´s Day ≈ the first day of a new year during which people make new resolutions (they set a certain task or a goal in front of them which they pledge to try to achieve throughout the new year) → in the States it is a day of massive shopping because of the New Year´s sales Martin Luther King Jr. Day ≈ a public holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.´s birthday (January 15th 1929) → M.L.K.J. was one of the most important and influential people of the 20th century in the United States leading acivil rights movement to secureracial equalityfor the African American population of the States in the 1950s and 60s St. Valentine´s Day ≈ also called the lovers´ holiday, is celebrated on 14th February - it is a day that celebrateslove and during which people ask one another to be each other´s Valentines (not only boy- and girlfriends but mothers with their children or grandchildren with their grandparents as well) - people buy cards for their loved ones and give each other flowers and small gifts → in Britain people usually send a card to the person they love or to someone whom they have fallen in love with (they hardly ever sign these cards and rather enjoy guessing who has sent them) St. Patrick´s Day • St. Patrick ~ the patron saint of Ireland - considered himself a pagan until the age of 16 when he was sold to slavery and became closer to God during his captivity → after a successful attempt to escape, he studied for twelve years in the monastery of the bishop of Auxerre in Gaul → having returned to Ireland in order toconvert Irish pagans to Christianity, Patrick was appointed the second bishop of Ireland → despite several arrests and escapes, he succeeded in building several monasteries throughout Ireland, setting up a number of schools and churches and converting pagans - St. Patrick is believed to have raised people from dead and to have given a sermon that drove all snakes from Ireland (his symbol is ashamrock, a metaphor for the Holy Trinity) ≈ celebrated on 17th March, commemorates the saint´s death after thirty years of leading his mission in Ireland → St. Patrick´s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1737 in Boston; today it is connected with long parades and cheerful celebrations Easter ≈ Christian holidays through which the British celebrate the idea of new birth by giving each other chocolate Easter eggs, which are opened and eaten on Easter Sunday → Easter Monday is a public holiday for which many people travel to the seaside or go watch one of numerous sporting events Independence Day ≈ one of the most significant dates in the American calendar → celebrates the formation of theUnited States as a sovereign country by signing theDeclaration of Independence in 1766 by all Thirteen American Colonies in the middle of the victorious war for independence on the Great Britain → Americans spend the 4th July dressing in national colours, decorating their houses with the national flag and letting off fireworks Halloween ≈ originally an old Celtic holiday celebrating the beginning of a new calendar year associated with witches and ghosts wandering freely among the living who protected themselves by dressing up to resemble the souls of the dead and bringing food to the edge of their town to leave it for the ghosts - after the spread of Christianity Halloween became mainly a holiday for children who dress up in scary costumes and walk from household to household asking for candy using the typical phrase´´trick or treat´´ → brought to the States with the massive Irish immigration especially during the 1840s; celebrated on 31st October → typical Halloween symbols include the pumpkin, witches on broomsticks, spiders, skeletons, ghosts etc. Guy Fawkes Night ≈ a popular day commemorating an unsuccessful attempt of the Roman Catholics toblow up the British Parliamentand, consequently, kill the Protestant King James I in 1605 with 36 barrels of gun powder, which were to be set on fire by a man called Guy Fawkes who was arrested and hanged before he was able to perform the task → Guy Fawkes´ failure is celebrated on 5th November by burning straw dummies on a bonfire and letting off fireworks Thanksgiving • the Pilgrim Fathers ~ a strongly religious group forced to leave England who fled to Holland and later on sailed in a famous ship called Mayflower to America to settle there → during their first winter, over one half of them died due to a lack of food → the native Indian tribes taught the settlers to plant corn, barley, beans and pumpkins which helped them survive → a feast to celebrate the bountiful cro

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