Christmas in Great Britain (1)
For most British families, this is the most important festival of the year. This is the day when many people are travelling home to be with their families on Christmas Day. If you try to catch a train on 24th December you may have difficulty in finding a seat.
There are a lot of traditions connected with Christmas but the most important one is the giving of presents. Family members wrap up their gifts and leave them at the bottom of the Christmas tree to be bound on Christmas morning.
At some time on Christmas Day the family will sit down to a big turkey dinner followed by Christmas pudding.
In the afternoon they may watch the Queen on the television as she delivers her traditional Christmas message to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Then they enjoy a piece of Christmas cake or eat a hot mince pie.
On the Sunday before Christmas many churches hold a service where special hymns are sung. Sometimes singers can be heard on the streets as they collect money for charity.
Most families decorate their houses with brightly-coloured paper or holly, and they usually have a Christmas tree in the corner of the room, glittering with coloured lights and decoration. 26th December is also a public holiday, called Boxing Day.
This is the time to visit friends and relatives or be a spectator at one of the many sporting events.
Everyone in Great Britain is waiting and enjoying this holiday very much!
Christmas in Great Britain (2)
Christmas Day, December 25, is probably the most popular holiday in Great Britain. It is a family holiday. Traditionally all relatives and friends give each other presents. So, before Christmas all the department stores and shops are crowded, everybody is choosing a present.
In general, people get prepared for this holiday very carefully. They decorate their houses in the traditional way. Christmas trees are set up in houses, in the streets and churches. They are always decorated with fairy lights, angels and small toys. In addition, little packets with nuts, candies and special biscuits are hung on the tree. Presents are put around the tree and artificial «frost» is scattered over the branches.
The Germans are believed to be the first to use the Christmas tree in their celebrations and Martin Luther was the first to place a star on the top of the tree. This star represents the star appeared over the stable in which Christ was born.
In Great Britain, the Christmas tree became popular while Queen Victoria ruled the country.
Besides the Christmas tree, holly and mistletoe are used to decorate the house. Branches of holly are put up behind pictures and mistletoe is hung over doors, so the young people have a chance to kiss the girls under it, plucking each time a red berry from the mistletoe. It is said that the girl who was not kissed under it at Christmas would not get married that year.
On the eve of Christmas children hang their stockings, so that Santa Claus could put presents into them: oranges, sweets, nuts and if the child didn't behave properly Santa Claus can put there a piece of coal as punishment.
Santa Claus got his name from a man known as St. Nicolas, who lived in the fourth century. He gave his wealth to the poor and often to children. After he died, the Dutch brought this legend to colonial America. Soon the Dutch name Sinter Klaus became Santa Claus.
Carol singing is an essential part of Christmas. No church or school is without its carol service. Carols may be traditional or with some variations that express different feelings. Carols were used for the first time during Christmas in the fifteenth century.
Usually children come around in the evening to the front doors and start singing carols and people who live in these houses give children candies, nuts, pies and so on, to thank them for carol singing.
A typical Christmas lunch includes turkey with cranberry sauce and pudding. Every young woman in each household helps to stir the Christmas pudding, if she wishes to be married that year. Usually a coin or two are hidden inside the pudding and part of the fun is to see who finds it.
After the lunch they go to the sitting room to listen to the Christmas speech of the Queen, shown on TV.
So, Christmas is a merry family holiday for all the people of Great Britain. Christmas comes but once a year.
1.What is the most important festival in Great Britain?
2. Is it difficult to catch a train on 24th December?
3. Are there many traditions connected with Christmas in Great Britain?
4. What do the family do during this holiday?
5. Do you like the way Christmas is celebrated in Great Britain?
6. Is Christmas a popular holiday in Great Britain?
7. How do people get prepared for this holiday?
8. How is the Christmas tree decorated?
9. Who was the first to use the Christmas tree?
10. When did the Christmas tree become popular in Great Britain?
11. Who was the first to place a star on the top of the Christmas tree?
12. What do children usually do on the eve of Christmas in Great Britain?
13. Where did Santa Claus get his name from?
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