Important Days

February the 14th, St.Valentine´s Day – it is a lover’s feast. People give gifts or send greeting cards called Valentines to people they like or admire. The day is named for an early Christian martyr.

Easter is an ancient symbol of spring and new life. Christians remember Christ’s death and his return to life. In Britain is celebrated as in the rest of Europe. Before Easter boys have to prepare plaited willow canes decorated with ribbons. Girls have to colour, decorate or paint eggs. On Monday morning boys with their canes go from house to house, chase girls and whip them saying traditional rhymes and asking fore Easter eggs. The girls try to hide and pretend to run away. The boys collect their rewards (eggs, sweets, chocolates, and money). In USA children on Sunday morning start hunting for painted eggs around the house.

Halloween is a festival that takes place on October 31st. It is very popular in the United States, but it is celebrated by many people in Great Britain, too. People cut horrible faces in pumpkins and put a candle inside. Children dress up as ghosts and monsters and go round people’s houses asking, “Trick or treat?”. A treat means that they get candies, fruit, nuts or money. If the children do not get a treat, they play a trick on the people. A favourite trick is to put soap on the windows or to make a lot of noise at the door.

November 5th is Guy Fawkes Night when the unsuccessful plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 is commemorated with bonfires, fireworks and burning of guys.

Christmas is marked by fairy lights and brightly illuminated streets, carols and children awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas and his reindeer stopping outside their chimney. They hang up their stockings at the foot of beds and wait for the presents. They open them only on December 25th at breakfast-time. At noon they have their traditional Christmas dinner – roast turkey and Christmas pudding. December 26th is called Boxing Day.

New Year’s Eve is the night of merry-making all over the land, especially in Scotland. They have family parties and at twelve o’clock they sing “Auld Lang Syne”. People gather in squares, link arms and sing. In Scotland they call the last day of the year Hogmanay. Is more celebrated than Christmas. They eat traditional dish haggis (minced heart, lungs and liver or a sheep boiled in a sheep’s stomach with oatmeal).

Every part of Britain has its own holiday:
    St.David’s  Day – March 1st (Wales)
    St. Patrick’s Day – March 17th (Ireland)
    St. George’s Day – April 23rd (England)
    St. Andrew’s Day – November 30th (Scotland)

In the USA there are eight main holidays:

Independence Day – 4th July, the birthday of the USA; The Americans have a holiday, each town has its own parade. After parades people go home and have parties. These days commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Thanksgiving Day – every fourth Thursday in November nearly everyone in the USA tries to get home to spend the day with their families or friends and enjoy the traditional food (roast turkey, apple or pumpkin pie etc.) It remembers the first settlers – Pilgrim Fathers who came in 1620 from England in their ship called Mayflower. This is a day of gifts, charities and food for poor people.

Veteran’s Day
Columbus Day
Memorial Day
President’s Day
Martin Luther King Day
Labor Day

In the Czech Republic, Christmas is also the most popular family holiday. People buy Christmas trees, hang various decorations and Christmas sweets on it. On 24th December we have the traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Some people follow the old tradition of fasting all day before the meal. We have fish soup and the main meal is fried carp and potato salad. Children expect the bell signal from the "Infant Jesus" after the Christmas dinner to unwrap their presents under the Christmas tree.

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