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GUY FAWKES NIGHT

When and where is it celebrated?


Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) is a British festivity. It takes place on
5th November.

Who was Guy Fawkes?


In 1604 Fawkes became involved with a small group of English Catholics,
led by Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate the Protestant King
James and replace him with his daughter, third in the line of succession,
Princess Elizabeth.
Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the
authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed. The
plan was to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Celebrating Guy Fawkes Night


On the evening of 5th November there are fireworks and bonfires. Guy Fawkes Night is algo called
Bonfire Night.
Children often make a guy. This is a model of Guy Fawkes. They use old clothes and fill them
with newspaper, and they make a head and draw a face on it. They put the guy on the bonfire and
burn it.

HALLOWEEN
When and where is it celebrated?
It is celebrated in America, Great Britain and more countries all over the
world on the night of 31st October.
Why is it celebrated?
Halloween has Celtic origins. The Celtic calendar was in two parts: summer and winter. Summer
was from May to the end of October, and winter was from November to the end of April. The
ancient Celtic festivity Samhain celebrated the end of the year: the start of winter. It began on the
evening of October 31st and continued until the next year. The Celts believed that ghosts, witches
and evil spirits returned on the night of October 31 st. They believed that evil spirits entered the body
of a person or animal. They wore frightening costumes and made big fires to send them away.
During the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church put Christian festivities in the place of pre-
Christian festivities. In the 8 th century the Church decided to call 1 st November All Saints' Day.
Another name for this day was All Hallows' Day. The evening of 31 st October was All Hallows' Eve.
This became Halloween.
How is it celebrated?
Costumes: On Halloween, kids dress up in costumes. Some kids wear a mask on their face and
others paint their face with make-up. Many boys like to dress up as a pirate because they can carry a
sword.
Trick or Treat: At night, kids go trick-or-treating, which means they go from house to house and say
trick-or treat. Then, the owner of the house will give the kids candy. The kids usually carry a
pillowcase to carry the treats they get. The house owners usually carve a pumpkin to make a jack-
olantern. When they are finished carving, they put a candle inside to light up the face.
Monsters: There are many monsters on Halloween. A vampire is a monster that likes to drink blood.
A mummy is a monster from Egypt covered in white bandages. A werewolf is a monster that comes
out when the moon is full.
ST PATRICK'S DAY
When and where is it celebrated?
It is celebrated on 17th March originally in Ireland, but it is spreading all over the world.
Who was Saint Patrick?
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. According to legend, Saint Patrick was born in Britain
and then captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. He escaped with the help of an angel
and then lived in a monastery for twelve years before going back to Ireland. When he returned to
Ireland he performed many miracles. According to one myth, Saint Patrick got rid of all of the
snakes in Ireland. Another legend says he used the shamrock to teach the Irish about God as being
three beings at the same time. He also converted a lot of Irish people to Christianity, and he
introduced the Roman alphabet to Ireland.
How is it celebrated?
St. Patricks Day is a celebration honoring Saint Patrick. People
wear green colored clothing and some women wear green ribbons in
their hair. People who dont wear green clothing get pinched as a
punishment. People also wear shamrocks, which are a symbol of
Ireland. As well, there are parades on the streets and sometimes
people dye the rivers green.
A leprechaun is an Irish fairy. They are very tricky and like to make
mischief. If you catch a leprechaun, they can tell you where a pot of
gold is. But be careful, If you take your eye off of them for an
instant, they vanish.

COLUMBUS DAY
Where and when is it celebrated?
On the second Monday of October Americans celebrate Columbus Day.
Who was Columbus?
Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, in the north-west of Italy. Columbus wanted to
test his idea about the world being round. When he was twenty-three he had the idea of going to
India, China and Japan by sailing west. If the world was round, this was possible. Spanish King
Ferdinand and Queen Isabella decided to help by giving him three ships: the Santa Mara, the Nia
and the Pinta. The voyage was long and difficult but the three ships arrived at the island of San
Salvador on 12th October 1492 and claimed these new lands for Spain. Columbus' voyage changed
the future of navigation and the world. After Columbus, Spain, Portugal and England established
colonies there. They found many new foods, plants and animals in the New World.
How is it celebrated?
Today many Americans celebrate Columbus Day with colourful parades. There is also sometimes a
kind of 'Miss Columbus', called a Columbus Day Queen. The parades are very long, with big floats
dedicated to Columbus and marching bands. There are multicultural floats, too, and people of
different nationalities participate in the parade.
Sometimes there are protests by groups of native Americans on Columbus Day. They remember that
the arrival of Columbus meant the beginning of the domination of native Americans.
THANKSGIVING
Where and when is it celebrated?
Americans of all religions celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. People in
Canada also celebrate Thanksgiving, but they do on the second Monday in October.
Why is Thanksgiving an important day?
The tradition started with the 'Pilgrim Fathers', who were Puritans and
suffered persecution by the Church of England. They wanted to start a
new life in a new country and on 6 th September 1620 they sailed to North
America in a ship called the Mayflower. It was a hard, cold winter and
there wasn't much food, so half of the Pilgrims died. In the spring a native
American called Squanto helped the Pilgrims. By November 1621
everyone had food and a home and William Bradford, the governor of the
Pilgrim's colony, decided to celebrate with a dinner for the Pilgrims and
about ninety native Americans. He wanted to thank God. This was the first
Thanksgiving dinner, and it continued for three days.
A traditional Thanksgiving
Today the traditional Thanksgiving meal is similar to the first.
People eat roast turkey with cranberry sauce, potatoes, corn and
pumpkin pie. Many charity organizations prepare a free meal for
the poor people in the town or city.
New York City celebrates with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Macy's department store organised its first parade in 1924. This
parade is very famous and more than two million people go to see
it every year.

CHRISTMAS
When and where is it celebrated?
Christians in many parts of the world celebrate Christmas on 25 th December. Members of the
Russian and Serb Orthodox Church celebrate on 7th January.
Why is it celebrated?
This festivity celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ
How is it celebrated?
In Great Britain there is a big Christmas lunch with
special foods. Christmas crackers are an old tradition and
are part of the Christmas lunch. Two people pull the
cracker until it goes 'bang' and opens. Inside there is a
small present, a paper hat and a joke.
In the United States families spend Christmas Day together at home. They play games and watch
Christmas films on television. In the evening they have a big Christmas dinner.
On 26th December it is a public holiday in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand: Boxing
Day. Some say it has this name because in the past English masters gave their servants a box with
small presents or money this day. Others say it has this name because churches had boxes for the
poor: people put money in these boxes, and the churches opened them on 26 th December and gave
the money to the poor.
The traditional Christmas food consists of roast turkey and roast
vegetables, followed by special desserts. Typical British desserts
are Christmas pudding and mince pies, while in America fruit
cake and pumpkin pie are popular. During the Christmas period
other typical foods are roast ham, Yule log and Christmas cake.
VALENTINE'S DAY
Where and when is it celebrated?
On 14th February lovers all over the world celebrate Valentine's Day

Who was Saint Valentine?


Nobody knows exactly who Valentine was. One of the possibilities is that once, in the third century,
Romans executed a boy because he was a Christian. A legend says that he fell in love with the
daughter of the prison keeper and before being executed he wrote a letter to her and signed it 'from
your Valentine'. Another possibility is that he was a priest when Claudius II was the Roman
emperor. When he needed a lot of soldiers for his army Claudius did not permit marriages but
Valentine performed marriages secretly. The authorities discovered this and executed him in AD
270.

How is it celebrated?
People in love give each other cards and presents: flowers, chocolates and
jewellery. In the evening there are special parties, and couples sometimes
go to restaurants for a romantic dinner. In New York City on the top of the
Empire State Building there are red lights on Valentine's Day.
Today, people also buy Valentine's cards. Most cards are romantic, but some
are humorous. In America many people also send cards to parents, relatives
and friends as a sign of friendship and young schoolchildren take to school
the same number of Valentine's cards as the number of children in the class.
In Great Britain this is not common: Valentine's cards are for lovers.

EASTER
Where and when is it celebrated?
Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon in March. This day is between 22 nd March
and 25 April. The date is later in the calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Why is it celebrated?
The modern English word Easter may come from the name of an old northern European pagan goddess of
spring and fertility. Pagans celebrated spring and the beginning of new life with festivals in March and April.
When Christianity became important, the Christian Easter gradually replaced pagan festivals. But we still use
today some symbols from pagan spring festivals: flowers and eggs were symbols of new life, and rabbits
were symbols of fertility.
Easter is the most important festivity of the year for Christians. On Easter Day Christians celebrate the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Christians the week before Easter is Holy Week. On Holy Thursday
Christians remember the last meal Jesus had with his Disciples. On Good Friday Christians believe that Jesus
Christ died on the cross. On Easter Day they believe that Jesus Christ came back to life, and went to heaven.
How is it celebrated?
Many Christian families go to church on Easter Day in the morning. One
non-religious Easter traditions is wearing new clothes or new shoes. In
America there are Easter Bonnet parades, such as the one on Fifth
Avenue in New York City.
In the days before Easter American and British schoolchildren sometimes paint
Easter eggs with bright colours. On Easter Day there are Easter egg hunts and
children play games with eggs.
The traditional Easter meal is roast lamb, new potatoes, peas and other vegetables.
There are chocolate eggs for children. Hot cross buns are typical on Good Friday in
Britain.
Before Easter there is Lent. The day before it begins is called Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, because it is
traditional to eat pancakes. On this day the Christian tradition is to use all the fat foods in the kitchen before
Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is called Mardi Gras in America. In New Orleans there are celebrations and
parades with amazing costumes for twelve days before Mardi Gras.
INDEPENDENCE DAY
Where and when is it celebrated?
The 4th July, or Independence Day, is 'America's birthday'.
Why is it celebrated?
In the 18th century there were thirteen colonies in America. But, starting in 1765, these colonies
began to protest. They did not like paying taxes to Great Britain, and they wanted America to
become an independent nation with its own government. A number of different acts of protest
against Great Britain started the American Revolution.

A group of fifty-six Americans, principally Thomas Jefferson,


George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, wrote the Declaration
of Independence, which was approved on 4th July 1776. The war
continued after the Declaration of Independence up to 1783, when
America and Great Britain signed the final peace treaty in Paris
and the United States of America became and independent nation.
How is it celebrated?
There is an American flag on public buildings and schools. Many
people put a flag outside their windows or in their gardens. The flag
is very important to Americans. It represents the thirteen original
states in 1776 with thirteen stripes, and the fifty states nowadays
with fifty white stars. Americans call their flag 'The Stars and
Sripes'.
In the East there are historic parades with people in costumes from the eighteenth century. In the
West there are spectacular rodeos, events where cowboys ride wild horses and catch young cows
with ropes. There are also native Americans pow-wows, which are meetings of members of
different tribes, and traditional dances.