Топик US Holidays and Traditions — Праздники и традиции США
Like any other country the USA has a lot of holidays and interesting traditions. In 1971, the dates of most federal holidays in the USA were officially moved to the nearest Monday by President Nixon. There are four holidays which are not necessarily celebrated on Mondays: Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas. When New Year's Day, Independence Day, or Christmas falls on a Sunday, the next day is also a holiday. When one of these holidays falls on a Saturday, the previous day is also a holiday.
Federal government offices, including the post office, are always closed on all federal legal holidays. Schools and companies don't work on such major holidays as Independence Day and Christmas but many people work, on Veterans' Day, for example.
Federal legal holidays are observed differently in different states. The dates of these holidays are appointed by the state government. Each state can agree on the same date that the President has proclaimed, such as Thanksgiving. There are other legal or public holidays which are observed at the state or local level. The closing of local government offices and businesses varies. Whether citizens have the day off from work or not, depends on the decision of local authorities.
In the United States New Year's Day is on January 1, but Americans begin celebrating on December 31. A lot of parties take place across the United States on this day. Sometimes people have masked balls, when guests dress up in costumes and cover their faces with masks. Following an old tradition, guests unmask at midnight. Most television channels show Times Square in the heart of New York City. It is overcrowded with those who want to celebrate New Year in the centre of the biggest city in the USA. At one minute before midnight, a lit ball drops slowly from the top to the bottom of a pole on one of the buildings. People count down from 10 to 0 at the same time as the ball drops. When it reaches the bottom, people hug and kiss and wish each other Happy New Year!
On January 1, Americans visit relatives, friends and neighbours. Many families watch the Tournament of Roses parade which takes place in California on television. The main theme of this parade varies from year to year. The procession is usually more than five miles long with thousands of participants.
Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King was a black clergyman who tried to win full civil rights for black Americans. King spoke out and campaigned tirelessly to make white and black Americans equal by cancelling some laws, for example, the requirement for black people to take back seats in buses or no right to vote.
In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated while he was leading a workers' strike in Memphis, Tennessee. White people and black people who had worked so hard for peace and civil rights were shocked and angry. The world grieved the loss of this man of peace.
Martin Luther King's death did not stop the Civil Rights Movement. Black and white people continued to fight for freedom and equality. On Monday, January 20, 1986, in cities and towns across the USA the first celebration of Martin Luther King Day took place. Schools, offices and federal agencies are closed for the holiday. On Monday there are quiet memorial services in honour of Dr. King. All weekend popular radio stations play songs and speeches that tell the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Television channels broadcast special programmes about King's life.
Memorial Day takes place on the last Monday of May. On this day Americans honour the dead. Most families honour the memories of their dead relatives. In many communities special ceremonies are held in cemeteries or at war monuments by veterans of military services. Parades and memorial services or special programmes in churches, schools or other public meeting places are held.
Independence Day is one of the most important holidays in the USA. It is celebrated on the 4th of July. On this day in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. There are picnics and parades all over the country on this day. Americans don't work on this day. Communities have day-long picnics with favourite food like hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans. Some cities have parades with people dressed as the original founding fathers who march in parades to the music of high school bands. The day ends with a big fireworks display.
Halloween is a holiday celebrated mostly by children and teens. On the 31st of October they dress as vampires, witches and ghosts and go from house to house saying Trick or treat. People should give them a treat, otherwise they will play a trick on them.
Thanksgiving is one of the most popular American holidays too. It is celebrated on the last Thursday in November. This holiday dates back to the times when the Pilgrims came to America and settled in. Their first winter was very hard, they had very little food. In spring, the Indians showed them how to plant and grow new crops, hunt and fish. The following autumn the colonists made a feast for the Indians.
Today family members meet and spend this day together. The traditional Thanksgiving food is roast turkey, cranberry jelly, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, ham and other delicious things. A lot of people go to religious services on Thanksgiving.
Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December. This is a religious holiday when people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. During the holiday season people sing Christmas songs, or carols. There are different types of carols: old traditional songs in English, German, Spanish, French and other languages, religious songs and modern American songs. Another important tradition is to send Christmas cards. People start sending cards to their friends and relatives early in December. Going home for Christmas is another good tradition. Christmas is considered to be the family celebration and family members usually get together on this day.
Americans put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with toys and sweets. Wrapping Christmas presents is another tradition. There are religious ceremonies at churches on Christmas Day and families usually attend them.
In the morning children hurry to the Christmas tree to look for presents. American children believe that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole with his wife. All year round he makes a list of children's names, both those who have been good and those who have been bad. He decides what presents to give to the good children. He and Jiis helpers make presents and wrap them. Children also hang big colourful socks for Santa Claus to put presents inside. Santa is believed to get into a house through the chimney and leave presents in socks. Unwrapping presents is the most exciting moment at Christmas.
План рассказа топика US Holidays and Traditions
- Предоставить общую информацию о праздниках в США (federal legal holidays, nearest Monday, observed differently in different states, public holidays, local authorities).
- Рассказать о самых популярных праздниках СИТА и традициях (New Year's Day: parties, masked balls, unmask, Times Square, lit ball, count; Tournament of Roses: California, parade, theme; Martin Luther King Day: third Monday in January, civil rights, assassinated, memorial services; Memorial Day: last Monday of May, honour the dead, war veterans; Independence Day: one of the most important holidays, July 4th, Declaration of Independence, picnics, parades, communities, fireworks display; Halloween: October 31, dress up in costumes. Trick or treat; Thanksgiving: last Thursday in November, the Pilgrims, hard winter, little food, the Indians, a feast, roast turkey, cranberry jelly, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, etc., religious services; Christmas: December 25th, sing carols, send greetings cards, family members get together, Christmas tree, Santa Claus, colourful socks, chimney).
Вопросы к топику — Questions:
- Do government offices work on federal legal holidays?
- How are federal legal holidays observed?
- How do public holidays depend on local authorities?
- How many public holidays are there in Britain? What are they?
- How is New Year's Day celebrated in the USA?
- How is Thanksgiving usually celebrated?
- When were the dates of most federal holidays moved to the nearest Monday?
- Which holidays are not necessarily celebrated on Mondays?
- What happens on Times Square in New York on December 31st?
- What is the Tournament of Roses and where does it take place?
- When is Martin Luther King Day celebrated?
- Who was Martin Luther King? What was he famous for?
- What events take place on this day?
- What can you tell about Memorial Day?
- Why is Independence Day considered one of the most important holidays in the USA?
- What are the Halloween traditions in the USA?
- When is Thanksgiving celebrated?
- What historic facts are connected to this holiday?
- When is Christmas celebrated in the USA?
- What are the common traditions at Christmas?
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