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The most widely celebrated holiday of the Christian year, Christmas is observed as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Christmas customs are centuries old. Use of such plant as a holly comes from the ancient belief that such plants blossomed at Christmas. Comparatively recent is the Christmas tree, first set up in Germany in the 17th century, and the use of candles on trees developed from the belief that candles appeared by miracle on the trees at Christmas.
Christmas Day is observed on the 25th of December. In Britain this day was a festival long before the conversion to Christianity.
Though religion in Britain has been loosing ground Christmas is still the most widely celebrated festival. It is the most colourful and merry holiday.
On Christmas Eve everything is in rush. Offices close at one o'clock but the shops stay open late. Most cities are decorated with coloured lights and enormous Christmas trees. In the homes people decorate Christmas trees and hang a bunch of mistletoe under which the boys kiss the girls. They also arrange Christmas cards on shelves, tables, mantelpieces. The housewife is busy cooking a turkey and baking Christmas cakes.
Over the end of the bed people hang stockings. Children believe that Father Christmas will come down the chimney and fill the stocking with presents. A carrot for the reindeer is usually left on the mantel piece.
On Christmas Day many people go to church. On returning from church the family gather round the tree and open the parcels. Everyone gets something.
Christmas meal is really traditional — stuffed turkey, boiled ham, mashed potatoes to be followed by plum pudding, mince pies9 tea or coffee and cakes.
People travel from all parts of the country to be at home for Christmas.
In England New Year is 'not as widely observed as Christmas. Some people just ignore it, but others celebrate it in one way or another.
The most common type of celebration is a New Year party (either a family party or one arranged by a group of young people). This usually begins at about 8 o'clock p.m. and goes until the early hours of the morning. There is usually a buffet supper of cold meat, pies, sandwiches, cakes and a big bowl of punch.
At midnight people listen to the chiming of Big Ben and sing "Auld Lang Syne" (a song by Robert Burns "The days of long ago").
Another popular way of celebrating New Year is to go to a New Year's dance. Most hotels and dance halls hold a special dance on New Year's Eve.
The most famous celebration is round the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus. People sing, dance and welcome the New Year. Someone usually falls into the fountain. January 1st is a public holiday. People don't work. They send cards and give presents.
St Valentine's Day
St Valentine's Day is celebrated on February, 14. Every St Valentine's Day thousands of people travel to a small village on Scotland's border with England to get married. The village is called Gretna Green. Its romantic reputation began in 1754. In that times in England marriage for the people under the age of 21 without parents’ permission was banned. However, in Scotland this permission was not required. Gretna Green was the first stop across the border. Many young couples came to Gretna Green to get married there.
Nowadays, in this place, at least one couple gets married every day of the year. Weddings for St Valentine's Day have to be booked 3 months in advance. On this day boys and girls, sweethearts, husbands and wives, friends and neighbours exchange greetings of affection and love. People send each other greeting cards, chocolates and flowers. Valentine's cards are very colourful, with a couple of human hearts on them. In the last century, sweethearts would spend hours fashioning home-made card or a present.
There is a version of the first Valentine. It was a bishop, a Christie martyr who before he was put to death by the Romans sent a note o friendship to his jailer's blind daughter. .
THE 8th OF MARCH
The 8th of March is the day of international solidarity of women all over the world.
This holiday has a long history. In 1910 the international conference of women decided to celebrate International Women's Day every year.
It is a happy and nice holiday. It is a good tradition in all country to give presents and flowers to women on this day.
Each family celebrates this spring holiday. In the morning men go to the shops or markets to buy some flowers. They try to clean flats and help women to cook a holiday dinner.
Sons and daughters help their mothers too: they make a cake, lay the table and wash dishes after holiday dinner.
All the members of the families try to be well dressed on this day.
Easter is a time when certain traditions are observed. It is celebrated either as the start of spring or a religious festival. In England presents traditionally take the form of an Easter egg. Easter eggs are usually made of chocolate. Nowadays, Easter eggs are often artificial. But they haven't been used before the middle of the last century and they haven't displaced the true Easter eggs.
Easter eggs always grace breakfast tables on Easter Day. Sometimes they are hidden about the house for the children to find them. There are some Easter games like egg-rolling and egg-shackling. Ever year London greets the spring with Easter Parade in Battersea Park on Easter Sunday. The parade begins at 3 p.m.
This day is celebrated on the first Monday in September in all states and territories. Labour Day was first celebrated in New York in 1882. In honors the American worker. Just as Memorial Day means the beginning of summer. Labour Day marks the end of summer. For many students, the school year starts the day after Labour Day.
This holiday is observed nationally on the fourth Tuesday in November by Act of Congress in 1941. Most Americans believe that the holiday dates back to the day of thanks ordered by Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony in New England in 1621, but scholars say that the day of thanks is celebrated from ancient times.
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