10. Traditions, Holidays, Feastdays (Zvyky, svátky, významné dny)
Easter: is celebrated on the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon in spring. It is an ancient pagan celebration of spring and new life. Children believe that while sleeping the Easter Bunny has hidden eggs in the house and go searching for them.
Christmas: starts on 24th December – on Christmas Eve when families decorate their houses and the Christmas tree. On the mantelpiece there are Christmas cards wishing Merry Christmas and happy New Year. Children hope that at night Santa Claus or Father Christmas will come down the chimney and bring some presents for them. Children get up very early in the morning to open the presents and play with new toys. They also watch TV and sing Christmas carols. On Christmas Day they have Christmas dinner usually at noon ort h the evening. They have roast turkey, potatoes and vegetable followed by Christmas pudding. Boxing Day is the 26th of December – and it is the second Christmas holidays, name after the tradition of giving dustmen, newspaper boys, milkmen, postmen, etc. small sums of money in boxes. On New Year’s Eve people go to parties, they stay up till midnight to see the old year out and drink a toast to the New Year , they gather in squares and sing „Auld Lang Syne“ – a popular Scottish song. The Scottish call Christmas Hogmanay.
Independence Day: is celebrated on 4th July. On this day Americans remember the victory over British in the American Civil War in 1776.It’s the day of picnics, parades and flying the flag, parties, barbecues, concerts and fireworks.
Thanksgiving Day: is celebrated on the last Thursday of November and it’s the second most important holiday of the year after Christmas. When Pilgrim Fathers settled in America in 1620 they suffered a lot during the first winter and half of them died. The next year the Native Americans taught them how to plant corn and other crops (pumpkins, barley, beans) so in the autumn of 1621 they celebrated their Thanksgiving Day for the first time. They also invited local Indians to the celebration. Nowadays, the Americans eat roast turkey and pumpkin pie.
St. Valentine’s Day: is a lovers‘ feast. On February, 14th, people give presents to the people they love, they send funny greeting cards also to friends. The cards are anonymous, often
signed „Your Valentine“.
Halloween: starts on 31st October. It is associated with an old Celtic custom of celebrating the end of the season of the sun. In the evening children fight pumpkin lanterns called „jack-o-lanterns“, they dress up as saints, angels, devils, witches and ghosts. They knock on the door and say: „Trick or treat“ and if they are not given candies, popcorn or cookies, they will play a trick. On that day people give parties, decorate their houses with paper moons, witches, bats, ghosts, black cats, etc.