1. NEW YEAR’S DAY
2. MARTIN LUTHER KING’S BIRTHDAY
3. ST VALENTINE’S DAY
4. PRESIDENT’S DAY
5. ST PATRICK’S DAY
6. APRIL FOOL’S DAY
7. EARTH DAY
8. TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY
10. MAY DAY
11. MOTHER’S DAY
12. MEMORIAL DAY
13. FLAG DAY
14. INDEPENDENCE DAY
15. FATHER’S DAY
16. LABOR DAY
17. COLUMBUS DAY
19. ELECTION DAY
20. VETERANS DAY
21. THANKSGIVING DAY
The population of the USA is made up of people of different
nationalities. Centuries ago they brought with them their native
celebrations. Some holidays which are marked in the US originated
in America. There is no provision for national holidays in the
USA. The number of holiday is different in different states – from
8 in the District of Columbia to 20 in Oklahoma.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
joi come to you,
And to you
your wassail, too !
bless you and send you
new year !
Although in the United States the official holiday is January
the 1st, the celebration really begins on December 31st. New
Year’s Day is celebrated with parties which last beyond midnight
so that everyone can see in the New Year and watch the Old
Year out. Theatres, night clubs, restaurants are crowded. At 12:00
midnight when the ringing of bells popping of champagne bottles
and fire crackers, and blowing of sirens and whistles announce
the start of New Year. People throw streamers and confetti, shake
hands, exchange kisses and embraces, and wish each other a
“Happy New Year !” Some people gather in the street of big
cities, they ring bells, shoot of guns and firecrackers. January
1st is celebrated with parades in some cities. One of the
noisiest and most crowded of New Year’s Eve celebration take
place in New York City at Time Square. Thousands of New Yorkers
gather there, and millions of Americans across the country join
them by TV.
Following a long, chaotic New Year’s Eve, Americans spend a
quiet New Year Day. In most households everyone sleeps late,
often enjoys meals and TV with the family and friends. Two
famous New Year’s Day festivals are showed for national viewing:
the Tournament of Roses and Mummer’s Parade. Both of these events
have been American traditions for more than half a century.
The Mummer’s Parade, which take place in Philadelphia is a
ten – hour spectacle. It was introduced in the US by Swedish
immigrants. There are clowns, musicians, dancers – all led by King
Momus dressed in bright satin.
The Tournament of Roses take place in Pasadena, California.
Prizes are awarded to the cities with the most unusual and
attractive floral displays. After the parade, the Rose Bowl
football game, a struggle between two top - ranking college
football teams, is played. Those events attract thousands of
tourists and millions of TV viewers.
Besides champagne, streamers and noisemakers, other symbols of
the New Year celebration include a clock or hour glass, an old
man symbolizing the Old year, and a new baby symbolizing the New
year. This may be an allusion to the ancient Roman god Janus,
for whom the month of January is named. Legend has it that
Janus had two faces, one looking into the past, and the other
looking into the future. This certainly personifies the sentiments
of many people who, on New Year’s Day think both about the past
year with its achievements and shortcomings as well as looking
forward with hope to a new and better year to come. Sincere and
practical, many Americans even write down their “New year
resolutions” to do specific things like giving up smoking, going
on a diet, getting up earlier, spending less money on clothes,
etc. Even though such resolutions are rarely kept, at least they
make for a good laugh when the next New Year comes.
MARTIN LUTHER KING’S BIRTHDAY
a dream that my four
will one day live in a
where they will not be
the color of their skin
but by the
content of their
Martin Luther King
On January 15th, people in the United States celebrate the
birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a great civil rights
leader who fought against racial discrimination. He said that
people should be judged by their characters, and not the color
of their skin. He believed in integration. He received national
attention when he protested the injustice of segregated buses in
Martin Luther King is remembered in church memorial services,
marches, and public ceremonies. People also listen to his
speeches, watch TV documentaries, and sing spirituals and the
civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” In schools, students read
about this leader, study his writings and celebrate his memory
with special programs. Politicians and performers also participate
in celebrations to honor Martin Luther King.
The third Monday in January is a legal holiday to honor
Martin Luther King.
ST VALENTINE’S DAY
It’s Valentine’s Day.
And in the street
There’s freezing rain,
and slush, and sleet.
The wind is fierce.
The skies are gray.
I don’t think I’ll go
But here inside the
There is no trace of
wind or storm.
And you just made the
You said you’d be my
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th. It isn’t a
national holiday. Banks and offices are open this day, but it is
a happy little festival in honor of St Valentine, patron
sweethearts and lovers. In this day school children typically make
valentines for their teachers and classmates and put them in a
large decorated mailbox. It is customary on the day to send a
“Valentine”, a card with affectionate message to someone you love,
or to your best friends or a little present. The greeting cards
are often colored red trimmings and pictures of heart.
Whatever the reasons, Americans of all ages love to send and
receive valentines and to hear and sing the thousands of new and
traditional love songs which flood television and radio programs
on that day.
Among all the red hearts, birds, love letters, candies,
chocolates and kisses which comprise symbolism and realia, Cupid
or Eros is the unquestioned favorite in personifying the spirit
of the day. According to Greek ( later Roman ) tradition. Cupid
was the eternally child – like son of Venus, the goddess of love.
Although he remained a baby, he could fly and was equipped with
a tiny bow and countless golden arrows special power, and that
is why if Cupid shot you with his arrow, you would fall in
love with the first person you met.
So St Valentine’s Day is the day of love for many people.
Until 1986 this holiday was in fast two holidays: Abraham
Lincoln’s Birthday, celebrated on February 12, and George
Washington’s Birthday, celebrated on February 22. Their birthdays
are celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February.
Abraham Lincoln was President during the Civil War ( 1861 – 1865
). He led the fight to keep the nation together and free the
slaves. His life ended tragically. He was killed at the theatre
during the performance soon after the victory of the North. In
honor of this great man a beautiful memorial has been built in
Washington, D. C.
George Washington led the American Army to victory in the War
for Independence. Later he was elected President of the United
States and was in office for 8 years (1789 –1797). The national
capital of the United States, a state and several towns are
named after George Washington. In addition to commemorating the
birth of the US’s first President, it’s a great day for
shoppers. The department stores of Washington, D. C., started a
national tradition of sales marked by unusual bargains. The US
Congress observes the birthday of G. Washington with speeches and
reading from his works.
ST PATRIC’S DAY
great day for the Shamrock,
flags in full array,
feeling so inspirish,
because for all the Irish
great, great day!
On March 17th, Americans celebrate an Irish religious holiday,
St Patrick’s Day. It is a day to remember the Irish people in
the United States and Ireland. Ireland is a country with a lot
of green grass and shamrocks. Shamrock are small plants with
three leaves. There is a lot of green in Ireland, so green is
Ireland’s national color.
People often wear green clothes on St Patrick’s Day. There
are parades in many cities with large Irish population, but the
largest parade is in New York. Many people go to parties. They
sing, dance, and eat Irish food. Some drink green beer.
St Patrick was a priest in Ireland many years ago. He taught
the Irish people about God. St Patrick died on March 17th in
the year 461.
Beginning in 1845, many Irish people moved to the United
States. They came because there wasn’t enough food to eat in
Ireland. St Patrick’s Day celebrations helped the Irish remember
their country, their music and their families. Many Americans say,
“Everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day.”
APRIL FOOL’S DAY
The first of
April, some do say,
It set apart
for All Fool’s Day.
But why the
people call it so,
Nor I, nor
they themselves do know.
But on this
day are people sent
for pure merriment.
April Fool’s Day is celebrated on April 1st. It is the day
for harmless tricks and good laughs. The origin of April Fool’s
Day or All Fool’s Day goes back to the dilemma faced by many
Europeans in 1562 when Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar,
one which shifted the start of new year from its traditionally
warm nesting place of April 1st to the cold and dreary date of
Today in the United States both children and adults play
small tricks on each others. If the trickster is still around he
or she may take credit for his deed by shouting “April Fool !”
but probably not before you’ve spoiled your cup of morning coffee
or tea. If you are innocent victim of such mischief, your first
reaction may be to “wring the scoundrel’s neck.”
American author and satirist Mark Twain summed up the nature
of the holiday thus: “The first of April is the day we remember
what we are the other 364 days of the year.”
is a garden.
the human race
April 22 is a special day around the world. On that day
inhabitants of Earth celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day is a time
when many people show that they care for our fragile planet.
They show concern about the threats the planet faces – destruction
of the rain forest, holes in the ozone layer, the greenhouse
effect, too much garbage, and all forms of air and water
pollution. It is a day for people to learn what they can do to
preserve the planet Earth.
The first Earth Day was held in the U.S. twenty two years
ago, in April 1970. At that time, Americans were just beginning
to learn about the problems facing the planet.
TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY
This holiday is celebrated on April 28th. Schools are closed
this day and girls go to work to their mothers. It is very
important holiday, because girls know that can become anything
they want when they grow up. If the mothers don’t work the
girls stayed at home and mothers teach them to cook, to work at
home and to hold the house.
Easter is a Christian religious holiday. Ibis memory of
Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It falls on the first Sunday after
the first full moon between March, 22, and April, 25. The 40
days before Easter are called Lent. Just before Easter, schools
and colleges usually close. The students have a week or ten days
of spring holidays.
Easter is a church holiday, and many churches have an outdoor
sunrise service. On the night before Easter, an imaginary
creature known as the Easter Bunny comes to visit children and
leaves a basket filled with candy in the shape of eggs, bunnies
and baby chicks. Another tradition is painting hard – boiled eggs
different colors and designs on them. It is common to hide these
eggs, as well as candy eggs, for children to look for an
Easter Sunday as part of an Easter egg hunt.
It’s May! It’s May!
The lusty month of May,
That lovely month when
Blissfully astray !
The roots of the May Day celebration go back to very ancient
time and are evident in many civilizations, where basically the
idea was to express gratitude to the gods for the renewal of
spring. May Day was not widely celebrated in the United States
during its early years, because the Puritans disapproved of
Some American parents and teachers use this holiday as a
chance to encourage their children and students to bring some
surprise and joy into the life of the lonely or aged. They make
May baskets filled with flowers and candy and hang them on
doorknobs throughout their neighborhoods, sometimes ringing the
bell, hiding, and watching smiles replace frowns and unexpected
joy light up the wrinkled faces of their neighbors.
“M” is for the
million things she gave me.
“O” means only that
she’s growing old.
“T” is for the tears
she shed to save me.
“H” is for her heart
of purest gold.
“E” is for her eyes,
with lovelights shining.
“R” means right
Put them all together;
they spell “mother”,
A word that means the
world to me.
In the United States Americans honor their mothers and
grandmothers, on the second Sunday in May. This day is set aside
to show love and respect for mother. On Mother’s Day children
give thanks for the support, love, care, and guidance. Giving
cards and gifts is also tradition. Children often make Mother’s
Day gifts in school. Pin cushions, sachets, tie clasps, decorated
boxes and picture frames, recipe holders, and plaster – cast hand
prints are all popular favorites. Another common gift for mothers
is the “mother ring,” a ring set with the birthstones of each
of the members of the family.
Mother’s Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by
President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. The idea of honoring mothers on
a special day started with Ann Jarvis, from Grafton, West
Virginia, who chose the second Sunday in May and began the
custom of wearing a red carnation if one’s mother was still
living and a white carnation if one’s mother was deceased. If
the latter is the case, many people visit their mother’s grave
side and dedicate the day to their mother’s memory.
The last Monday in May is Memorial Day. This is a national
holiday to remember the dead. The first Memorial Day was many
years ago after the Civil War (1861 –1865). After the war, people
wanted to remember the dead. So around 1866, people began to
decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. People called this day
Decoration Day or Poppy Day (Poppies are small red flowers).
On the Memorial Day, Americans honour the servicemen who gave
their lives in past wars. Schools, clubs and churches decorate
the cemeteries. They put up the flags on the graves of the
army, navy and airmen. They hold memorial services in churches,
halls, parks and cemeteries.
In addition to solemn services Memorial Day is often marked
by other, more joyful ceremonies: colorful parades, sports
Then hurrah for the
flag, our country’s flag,
Its stripes and white
There is no flag in
Like our own Red,
White and Blue.
On June 14th, 1777, the United States adopted its first flag.
Today Americans honor the US flag each year on June 14th. Flag
Day is a national commemorative day. It is not a holiday from
work. Many people fly the flag outside their homes and
businesses on this day.
The American flag has different names. One name is “The Red,
White, and Blue.” This name is for the colors of the flag.
Another name is “The Stars and Stripes.” This name is for the
50 stars and 13 stripes.
The flag did not always have 50 stars and 13 stripes. In
1777, the original flag had 13stars and 13stripes for the 13
colonies. The 13 colonies became the first 13 states. Then more
states joined the United States. In 1794, the flag had 15 stars
and 15 stripes. Then more states joined. This created a problem
for the flag makers. The flag was getting too big! So in 1818,
Congress decided to have only 13 stripes on the flag. They
decided to add one star for each new state. So now there are
50 stars and 13stripes on the flag.
hope and liberty,
Freedom rings from every mountain,
July 4th is Independence Day. Another name for Independence
Day is the Fourth of July. On this day in 1776 the final of
the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was
Independence Day is a national holiday. Government offices,
banks, and schools close. Most people don’t go to work. Families
and friends get together outside for picnics and cookouts.
Traditionally the Fourth of July is celebrate with firing of
guns and fireworks, parades open – air meetings and speeches
praising “Americanism, democracy, free enterprise.”
Independence Day isn’t only day for cookouts, noise, and
fireworks. It is also a day to think about freedom. The
Declaration of Independence says everyone has the right to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of
Independence more than 200 years old, but its ideas are important
to both of us is so new.
learn about the world
need to fear.
love and care for you
People in the United States honor their fathers with special
day: Father’s Day. This holiday is celebrated on the third Sunday
Father’s Day dates back to 1909, when one daughter, a certain
Mrs. Dodd from Spokane, Washington, wanted to honor her own
father who had raised four sons and a daughter after her
mother’s death. Although the first Father’s Day was observed in
Spokane in 1910 and it has been likewise observed in many other
states for many decades, Father’s Day did not become a national
holiday until Senator Margaret Chase Smith helped to establish it
as such in 1972.
Giving cards and gifts is the tradition of this holiday.
Children make them in schools. Many people make their own
presents. Greeting cards, stores, florists, candy makers, bakeries,
telephone companies and other stores do a lot of business during
Labor Day is a legal holiday. It is celebrated each year on
the first Monday in September. It was planned as a day to honor
workers in America and to give them a long weekend holiday from
Labor Day was started in 1882 by a union called the Knights
of Labor. The first celebration was a long parade followed by a
picnic in New York City. In 1894 Congress made it a legal
Labor Day is traditionally celebrated with parades, speeches,
and recognition of the labor unions. Labor Day sales are a
popular event held on this holiday. Barbecues and picnics are
popular on Labor Day. They mark the end of the summer season.
Schools usually open after this holiday.
The American continent was discoved in 1492 by the Spanish
seaman Christopher Columbus. Columbus is said to be the first
Euaropen man, stepping on the American land, and that day, when
it was happend, the 12th of October, became the holiday, which
is called Columbus Day. This holiday is celebrated in 34 States
of the USA and Puerto Rico. There are parades and parties in
San Francisco and New York. One of the squares of New York is
called Columbus Circle with the monument of Columbus in the
middle of it.
It’s Halloween! It’s
The moon is full
And we shall see
what we can’t be seen
On any other night.
Halloween is the day or evening before All Saints Day. The
name is a shortened version of “All Hallows Eve” the night
before All Saints Day which is celebrated on November 1st by the
Catolic Church. Halloween customs date back to a time when
people believed in devils, witches and ghost. They thought that
these evil spirits could do all kinds of damage to property.
Some people tried to ward off witches by paintings signs on
their barns. Others tried to scare them away by nailing a piece
of iron, such as horseshoe, over the door.
Now most of people do not believe in evil spirits. On this
day they just have a nice holiday. Children dress up as ghosts
and witches and go out into the street to beg. They from house
to house and say: “Trick or treat!”, meaning “Give me a treat
or I’ll play a trick on you”. People give them candy, cookies
and apples. This custom comes from the Celts in ancient Britain
who feared the coming of winter and dressed in frightening
costumes so the demons of winter would think they were one of
them and do them no harm. Hence, the origin of costumes for
today’s celebration: It represents a devil coming to your home
whom you can placate with a treat.
A favorite custom is making a jack – o – lantern. Children
scrape out a pumpkin and cut the outlines of eyes, nose and
mouth in its side. They light a candle inside the pumpkin to
scare their friends. This custom refers to a man named Jack who
still wanders around the earth lighting his way with a pumpkin
The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is
Election Day. It is a legal holiday. Since 1845, by Act of
Congress, this date has been set aside for elections.
On this day American citizen elect their public officials,
president, congressmen, governors, mayors and judges. All states
require that voters be citizens of the United States.
“Election Day” sales in stories are very popular on this day.
The night of the election, people watch the election results on
TV. They listen to the speeches made by the winners.
November 11th is a national holiday. Veterans Day is a day
to remember and honor all those Americans who served in the
armed forces and particularly those who fought during the Spanish
– Americans War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the
Vietnam War. People also remember those soldiers missing in
action. This day reminds people of the courage and patriotism of
all men and women who serve their country.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice
Day so Americans would not forget the tragedies of war. In 1954
Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all United
States veterans. It is also a day dedicated to world peace.
On this day, the radio and television broadcast services held
at the National Cemetery in Arlington. High officials come from
Washington to attend these services. They place a wreath of
flowers at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All stand in silence
for a few minutes at eleven o’clock to honor the memory of the
serviceman killed in the two World Wars.
When Pilgrims sailed to this new
They met a friendly Indian band.
The Indians taught them to plant,
hunt, and fish,
Then they all had a feast with
many a tasty dish.
Thanksgiving Day is marked on the fourth Thursday of November
in memory of the first Thanksgiving Day held by the early
Pilgrim settles in Massachusetts in 1621, in gratitude for the
successful harvest. They experienced difficulty in those early
times and survived only with the help of American Indians who
taught them how to grow and harvest indigenous foods such as
squash and corn. The first Thanksgiving day lasted three days and
was celebrated with their Indian friends.
Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national day of observance by
Congress in 1941 .
Thanksgiving Day is a four – day holiday for most Americans.
This is a family holiday. Families come together from near and
far. In some places special religious services are held in the
morning. Then comes the traditional feast. Turkey with stuffing is
the main dish. It is served with sweet potatoes, squash,
cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Apple cider is the drink of
Football is the most popular game on this day. Usually there
are several football games to watch on TV. There is Thanksgiving
Day Parade in New York City.
Stores, classrooms, and homes are decorated with turkeys,
pilgrims, Indians, wreaths of dried flowers, and vegetables. Horns
of plenty are also very popular.
for hanging stockings,
for riding sleighs,
for jolly greeting,
Christmas! Merry Christmas!
best of holidays.
Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of
Jesus Christ. Americans celebrate Christmas on December the 25th .
It is usually a one – day official holiday, but it is proceeded
and followed by festive parties. By this day people decorate fir
- trees with toys and candies. Children wait for Santa Claus who
comes to every house and brings them presents. Before going to
bed, children leave their shoes to find in them what they want
most of all the next morning.
Decorating the house with holly, ivy and mistletoe is a
custom, which comes from England. Ivy means immortality. Holly is a
bush with shiny red berries and glossy leaves with a
characteristic shape and sharp pointy edges. Because it remains
green throughout the year it was believed to hold a promise that
the sun would return. Holly'’ berries symbolize Christ’s blood.
Mistletoe is an interesting green parasitic plant which grows in
globe – like formations high up in the branches of oak trees.
Springs of it are tied together with ribbons and hung up in
doorways. By custom anyone standing under the mistletoe gets to
Christmas is a family holiday. Schools and colleges close
between Christmas and New Year’s Day. People stay at home and
spend the time with their families. Everybody tries to come home
for Christmas. People send cards or Christmas greetings to family
and friends away from home. All the members of the family
exchange gifts. It is a merry holiday.
Some holidays in America have their own symbols. Here they are:
1. Presidents Day 6.
2. Columbus Day 7. New
3. St. Patrick’s Day 8. Martin
Luther King’s day
4. Easter 9.
5. Valentine’s Day 10. Halloween
And there are festival post cards for every holiday, which
American people give the friends and relatives when they
congratulate each other. Here are some postcards for some parties:
Such are the US holidays. A holiday has simply become, for most
Americans, a day off from work. No matter what the holiday’s
origin is, they all seem to be the same thing, though some (for example,
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween) retain some individuality.
The list of literature:
1. “Holidays Go Round and Round”; Authors: Kathleen Carroll, Marina
Novikova. St Petersburg, 1996, Triada Publishing.
2. “Английский для поступающих в ВУЗы”; Authors: Цветкова И. В.,
Клепальченко И. А., Мыльцева Н. А. Москва, ГЛОССА, 1995.
3. “95 устных тем по английскому языку”; Author: Занина Е. А.
Москва, Айрис Рольф, 1997.
4. “Spotlight on the USA”; Author: Natalia Timanovskaya. Тула,
5. “Living in the United States”. Intercultural exchange series.
Copy right 1994.
6. “Happy English 2”; Authors: Татьяна Клементьева, Джилл Шэннон.
Обнинск, Титул, 1996.
7. “English”. Еженедельное приложение к газете “ Первое сентября”,
N 7, 9, 11, 17, 18, 20, 29, 32, 36, 42, 1994.