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Holidays and Celebrations in the UK

There are eight public, or bank holidays in Great Britain, that is, days when banks and offices are closed. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Mayday, Spring Bank Holiday and Late Summer Bank Holiday. The observance of these days is no longer limited to banks. All the public holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day observed on the 25 and 26 of December respectively, do not fall on the same day each year. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though for the greater part of the population they have long lost they religious significance and are simply days on which people relax and make merry. Certain customs and traditions are associated with most bank holidays. The reason is that many of them are part of holiday seasons, like Easter and Christmas seasons. Besides public holidays, there are celebrations, festivals, and simply days, on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, there are ordinary working days.

February, 14 is St. Valentine's Day. It is a day for choosing sweethearts and exchanging love tokens. Generations of young people have considered St. Valentine to be the friend and patron of lovers and have sent gifts and hand-made valentines to their sweethearts. A valentine was a colourful card with a short verse composed by the sender. Now thousands of ready-made valentines are sent through the post every year.

Pancake Day is a popular name for Shrove Tuesday — the last day of enjoyment before the fasting of Lent. On this day Christians confessed their sins to a priest. Many people still traditionally eat pancakes. One of the main events of this day is the pancake race at Olney. The competitors in the race are local housewives who make their pancakes and run from the village square to the church.

The fourth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday — a day of small family reunions. On this day absent sons and daughters return to the homes and make gifts to their mothers.

April, 1 is April Fool's Day — the day when practical jokes are played* Any person may be made in April Fool between midnight and noon. Children are, of course, very keen supporters of the tradition. You can step in a basin of water, or receive a letter with a deceiving message. If you are young and innocent, you can be sent to fetch some non-existing thing, like pigeon's milk.

Another popular British tradition is Halloween, celebrated on October, 31, the eve of All Saints9 Day. Halloween's customs dated back to a time, when people believed in devils, witches and ghosts. They thought that they could do all kinds of damage to property. Some people tried to ward off the witches by painting magic signs or nailing a horseshoe. Today the day is marked by costume-balls or fancy-dress parties. On the night of Halloween children or grown-ups visit houses and ask the residents if they want 'trick' or 'treat'. If the people in the house give children a 'treat' (money or sweets), then the children will not play trick on them. Another Halloween custom is to scrape out a pumpkin, cutting eyes, nose and mouth in its side and lighting a candle inside. This is made to scare the friends.



What is “American” food?

The answer is that it is part Italian, part British, part German, part Mexican, part Chinese… When people from other countries came to live in the US, they brought different cooking traditions. Some of them opened restaurants. Today Americans enjoy food from all over the world.

Over the years some foreign dishes changed a little. Doughnuts were originally from Holland. In 1847 a young American boy told his mother that her doughnuts were never cooked in the middle. He cut out the centre and his mother cooked them — and they were very tasty!

Maybe the US is most famous for “fast foods”. The first fast food restaurants served hamburgers, but now they serve other kinds of food too. Inside there is often a “salad bar”, where you can help yourself to as much salad as you want.

Americans eat a lot, and when they go to a restaurant, they don’t expect to be hungry afterwards. Most restaurants will put a lot of food on your plate — sometimes it can be too much. But if you can’t finish it all, don’t worry: they will give you a “doggy bag” and you can take it home.

Most Americans now have a light breakfast instead of the traditional eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice and coffee. But on weekends there is more time, and a large late breakfast or early lunch is often eaten with family or friends.


Что такое "американская" еда?

Ответ в том, что она является частично итальянской, частично британской, немецкой, мексиканской, китайской... Когда люди из других стран приехали жить в США, они привезли разные традиции приготовления пищи. Некоторые из них открыли рестораны. Сегодня американцы наслаждаются едой со всего мира.

На протяжении ряда лет некоторые иностранные блюда изменились. Пончики были родом из Голландии. В 1847 году маленький американский мальчик рассказал своей матери, что ее пончики, никогда не пропекались в средине. Он вырезал середину, а его мама их приготовила - и они были очень вкусные!

Может быть, самым известным в США является "фаст-фуд". В первом ресторане быстрого питания подавались гамбургеры, но теперь там предлагаются другие виды еды тоже. Внутри часто есть "салатная стойка", где вы можете положить себе столько салатов, сколько захотите.

Американцы едят много, и когда они идут в ресторан, они не хотят быть голодными потом. Большинство ресторанов предлагают много еды на тарелке - иногда это может быть даже слишком много. Но если вы не сможете съесть все это, не беспокойтесь: они дадут вам "собачий мешок", и вы сможете взять домой то, что не доели.

Большинство американцев теперь сьедают легкий завтрак вместо традиционных яиц, бекона, тостов, апельсинового сока и кофе. Но в выходные дни есть больше времени и плотный поздний завтрак или ранний обед часто сьедается с семьей или друзьями.

US Holidays


The list of holidays in the United States varies from state to state but generally includes the major holidays. Besides Christmas, Easter and St. Valentine's Day celebrated in Christian countries, May Day and Halloween, the celebration of which is very much the same as in Great Britain, there are some specifically American holidays.

Memorial Day is observed in late May. It was introduced in 1868 for the purpose of decorating the graves of Civil Wir veterans and has since become a day on which all war dead are commemorated. Independence Day, or July Fourth commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It emerged during the American Revolution and has been the most important patriotic holiday ever since. Traditionally it has been celebrated with the firing of guns and fireworks, parades, open-air meetings, and patriotic speeches. Today local authorities prevent much of the former display of fireworks and use of firearms. Veterans' Day is celebrated on November, 11. It is the holiday formerly observed in the United States as Armistice Day and commemorates the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. The day is set aside in honour of all those who have fought in defense of the United States.

Midsummer day and Midsummer night, names given to the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24) and the preceding night (St. John's Eve, June 23), have been associated with solar ceremonies since long before Christianity. Relics of such ceremonies are the bright bonfires and the merrymaking of midsummer night. Labour Day, the holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday in September to honour the labourer. Columbus Day is a holiday commemorating Christopher Columbus's discovery of America, celebrated on the Monday nearest to October, 12.

Thanksgiving Day commemorates the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony in 1621, after a winter of great starvation and privation. The first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by George Washington in 1789. Now Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November. The day is observed by church services and family reunions with the customary turkey dinner reminding of the four wild turkeys served at the Pilgrims' first thanksgiving feast.


Education in the USA


The USA does not have a national system of education. All educational matters are left to states. 50 per cent of funds for education come from state sources, about 40 from local funds, and only 6 per cent from the federal government. There are two major types of schools in the USA— public which are free, and private, or fee-paying. Four of five private schools are run by churches and other religious groups.

Elementary education starts at the age of 6 and continues till 10-11 years. Secondary education is provided from the age 11 — 12. Intermediate school includes grades 6 through 9 for ages 11-12 up to 14—15. A senior high school may include grades 9—10 through 12. A senior high school may be comprehensive, general or vocational. A comprehensive school offers a broad program of academic and vocational education, a general school offers a more limited program. A vocational school focuses on vocational training with some general educational subjects. All such programs — academic, technical, or practical are generally taught under one roof. Nevertheless, many students of high school don't finish it. 1 per cent of American citizens at the age of 14 can neither read, nor write. High school students who wish to attend a college or a university go through one of the two standard tests — SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Test). They are given by non-profit, non-governmental organizations.

There are several ways to continue in education: universities, colleges, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools. A university in the USA usually consists of several colleges; each college specializes in a subject area. There are colleges of liberal arts, colleges of education and business colleges. A program for undergraduates usually takes four years and leads to the Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. After that, students may leave the university or go on for a graduate or professional degree. The university may be funded from several different sources. A publicly funded university gets some money form the state government. A privately funded university gets money from private sources only. A university may be funded by a religious group.

College students usually spend four years at the college, too, and get the Bachelor's degree. In contrast to universities, colleges don't have graduate or professional programs. Colleges in the USA differ greatly in size — they may include from 100 students to 5000 and more. Most of the larger institutions fall into the category of universities, the largest being the University of California, State university of New York, New York university, Columbia University and others.

The course of study in a community college lasts two years and doesn't lead to any degree. Community colleges may give courses in the regular academic subjects or subject like dental technology, sewing and other non-academic subjects. Not all students of community colleges have high school diplomas.

Technical, or vocational schools have no academic programs and provide only job training. Programs may take from six months to two years and more.



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