VALENTINE'S DAYThough we know hundreds of years of history behind Valentine's day, the origins of the holiday are a mystery. Here's an educational documentary offered by the History Channel about this so much enjoyed celebration.
|Interactive St. Patrick's Day Exercises|
About St. Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th. In
Saint Patrick & the Shamrock
According to the legend, Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain people about God and the Holy Trinity. The shamrock, which looks like clover, has three leaves on each stem.
Saint Patrick & the Snakes
Legend also has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes from
One version says that an old serpent resisted banishment but St. Patrick outwitted him. Patrick made a box and invited the snake in. The snake insisted it was too small and the two argued. Finally, to prove his point, the snake entered the box to show how tight the fit was. Immediately,
Although it is true that
Festivities & Parades
Although it began in
Saint Patrick’s Day is usually celebrated with a parade. The one in
Watch a funny video about St. Patrick
The Leprechauns are Irish fairies. They look like small old men standing a mere 2-feet tall and usually dressed like shoemakers, wearing a cocked hat and a leather apron.
According to legend, leprechauns are aloof and unfriendly, live alone and pass the time making shoes. They also possess a hidden pot of gold.
Treasure hunters can often track down a leprechaun by the sound of his shoemaker’s hammer. If caught, he can be forced, with a threat of bodily violence, to reveal the whereabouts of his treasure but the captor must keep his eyes on him every second. If the captor’s eyes leave the leprechaun – and he often tricks them into looking away, he vanishes and all hopes of finding the treasure are lost.
More about St. Patrick's Day on History Channel
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world,
the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me—
nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
(Hamlet - Act 2, scene 2)
Halloween Special Quiz
What do you know about Halloween? How did it start? What do people do? Try this quiz!
Read the sentences and decide if they are true or false.
1. Halloween is traditionally celebrated on the night of 31st October, the night before All Saint’s Day.
2. In England Halloween was called ‘All Hallow’s Eve’.
3. On Halloween night all evil spirits stayed at home.
4. Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic holiday and the name ‘Halloween’ means ‘Winter’s End’.
5. In past times people put lamps or lanterns outside their houses to keep away evil spirits.
6. People believed that witches, ghosts and goblins went around at night looking for a living body!
7. On Halloween people dressed up as ghosts and witches so that the spirits would not steal their body!
8. Nowadays people put pumpkins with faces in their houses.
9. The pumpkin is sometimes called the ‘Jack-o-lantern’.
10. ‘Trick or treat’ is a game children play at Halloween to play jokes (trick) or get sweets (treat).
Watch this Halloween Documentary to check your answers.
2. Why do witches use brooms to fly on? Because vacuum cleaners are too heavy...
4. What do you get when you cross a werewolf and a vampire? A fur coat that fangs around your neck...
HALLOWEEN TONGUE TWISTER
Practise saying this tongue twister. How fast can you say it?
If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?"
IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME!
Xmas Tongue Twister
Santa's sleigh slides on slick snow.
Santa Claus is a Jolly fellow! Imagine all that driving and still being able to say "Ho! Ho! Ho!
Question: What do you call Santa's Helpers? Answer: Subordinate Clauses.
Question: Why is it so cold on Christmas? Answer: Because it's in Decembrrrrrrrrrr!
Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Answer: Frostbite.
Question: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Answer: Claustrophobic.
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS IN THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD
The New Year has been celebrated for thousand of years. Every culture has its own New Year festival.To find out about New Year festivals from the past and about some New Year festivals that are celebrated in Britain by people from different cultures,
click on Celebrating The New Year interactive exercises.
British New Year
On New Year's Day children from
The Scottish New Year is known as Hogmanay and both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were also known as Daft Days. The first Monday in January is a holiday and is referred to as Handsel Monday.
The Scots prepare for the New Year by cleaning their houses. This was believed to have been a purification ritual. They would perform a ritual of burning juniper branches which they carried throughout the house so as to remove any lurking germs and diseases.
The food they would eat at New Year was Haggis, shortbread, scones, oatmeal cakes, cheese, whisky and wine as well as traditional New Year black buns.
The first person to rise in the morning used to take Het Pint spiced ale to those members who were still in bed.
On New Year's Eve they all link arms in a circle and sing the traditional New Year song Auld Lang Syne,which is based on a poem written by Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet.
After welcoming the New Year, all the people of the household would wait to see who the first person to enter the house after midnight will be, as this person would indicate whether they would have good luck or bad luck for the coming year. The first person must be a dark haired male, young virile, good natured and prosperous. He should not be empty handed and was supposed to bring with him a small gift such as a piece of coal, bread, salt as they were symbols of life.
On New Year's Day children from
In some Scottish villages barrels of tar are set on fire and rolled through the streets. This is done to burn up the old year and to allow the New Year in.
In Wales the boys of the village would meet at around 3 or 4 am on New Year's morning. They would go from house to house using an evergreen twig to sprinkle over the people and then each room of their house. This was believed to bring good luck.
On New Year's Day children from
The Irish New Year festival is known as Samhain which meant summer's end and was celebrated on 31 October. The festival has survived as Halloween.
It was at this time they would hold their General Assembly. This was held in the out in the air parliament where the laws were renewed and accounts of events, details of births, deaths and marriages, were recorded.
This day was considered of great danger for it was when the spirits of the dead returned to earth. It was believed the spirits could do harm unless precautions were taken. The Celtic priests would go into the woods on New Year's Eve to gather bunches of mistletoe which they handed out to people to protect them from any harm. Also bonfires were lit to drive away evil forces. They also believed that it was safer to stay indoors as fairies were abroad on New Year's Eve.
Oh, ivy green and holly red,
Tell me, tell me whom I shall wed!
Also on New Year's Eve, if they ate a very large supper, they would have plenty of food for the coming year.
One custom that was practiced on New Year's Eve was to take a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake outside the house and hammer it against the closed doors and windows so as to drive out any misfortune and let happiness in.
American New Year
American New Year's Customs such as Dance parties are thrown on New Year's Eve to see in the year. Times Square in
Many people watch the Championship football games in stadiums or on TV. They also gather in
Australian New Year
They have parties that start on December 31 and at midnight they start to make noise with whistles and rattles, car horns and church bells to ring in the New Year. In Australia New Year is a day for outdoor activities such as rodeos, picnic races and surf carnivals.