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Valentine's Day(情人節)(February 14)
St. Valentine's Day is an informal observance (非正式的慶祝) of a lover's holiday. Today, the observance has no connection with the many legendary (傳說的) St. Valentines, and holds no religious significance. The day is observed with exchanges of love notes and cards, and other tokens(標誌) of affection(感情), called valentines. The symbols of the heart and Cupid(丘比特) are common in cards, decorations of store windows,candies and other paraphernalia(隨身物品). Traditional valentines were frilly(裝飾的) sweet, and tender(溫情的) affairs made of red and white paper and lace(花邊) with cutouts(剪下的圖樣) and cupids. The custom of sending cards, giving candy, and other such tokens has caught a great deal of commercial enthusiasm(積極性). Many stores, for instance, decorate(裝飾) seasonally, or a according to calendar holidays(日曆). Valentine's Day is the first excuse for splashy(顯眼的) valentine theme(主題) dominates stationery(文具) stores, candy stores, confectioneries(甜食製造業), and quite often drug stores where cards and candy are sold.

Easter(復活節)
(The first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox(春分))
Easter is important for several reasons. Primarily(主要) it is a time for families to get together much like Christmas or Thanksgiving. They usually have a large meal and serve traditional(傳統的) dishes such as baked ham(火腿). In addition, there is a commercial aspect(商業特徵) of Easter. It is a time when manufacturers(製造商) of candy and chocolate can sell their products. They make chocolates in the shape of eggs and rabbits since those things are associated with(與……聯繫)pring and Easter. Finally, Easter is a religious holiday. Many Americans go to church on that day if they are Christians to celebrate the resurrection(耶酥復活) of Christ. Symbols(象徵) which we see at Easter are chicks, flowers, eggs, baskets for children to dye Easter eggs and then to hide them. Other children look for the eggs and collect them in baskets. People often get new clothes for spring for around Easter time.

Doll's Day 女兒節(初)
The third of March is an exciting day for little Japanese girls. They know it as Doll's Day. On that day, any household which has a daughter aged between three and seven decorates the house with traditional dolls. They represent the royal family and members of the court. They are extremely delicate and finely dressed. The dolls may have been in the family for several generations, or they may have been newly presented to the daughter of the house, usually by the grandparents. The little girls do not merely look at the dolls displayed in the house. They themselves are dressed in elaborate kimonos, again of traditional design. Then their parents accompany them to the sacred shrines. After they come back home, special rice cakes are eaten. Doll's Day in Japan is for the girls, but the boys have their own turn later. Their festival occurs on May 5th, and this time the house are decorated with armour, emphasizing a traditional male role.

April Fool's Day 愚人節 (初)
April Fool's Day is the first day of April. The sport of the holiday is to play silly but harmless jokes on family members, co-workers, and friends. A victim of one of these pranks is called an April fool. If one succeeds in tricking someone, one laughs and says, `April Fool`, and then the person who has been tricked usually laughs, too. This holiday originated in France. When the French first adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1564, some people continued to use the old calendar to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1.These people were called April Fools. The custom of playing tricks on this day became popular in France and then spread to many other countries. April Fool's jokes are as ingenious, humorous, or cruel as the people who perform them. Here are some typical pranks: __Telling somebody to call the zoo and ask to speak to Mr Fox. __Putting salt in the sugar bowl. __Setting the clock back an hour. __Saying to friends, 'Oh my! You have four holes in your coat-buttonholes! __Trying a string to a wallet and leaving the wallet in the middle of the sidewalk. When someone stops to pick it up, the pranker yanks it out of reach. In the United States today, April Fool's jokes are mostly played by children, who enjoy the holiday immensely.
Notes: April Fool:在愚人節受騙的人. prank:玩笑;惡作劇. Trick:計謀;欺詐. Originate:開始;源自. cruel:殘忍的. ingenious:坦率的. Popular:受歡迎的. Immensely:極大的;無限的. Humorous:幽默的. .

Halloween(萬聖日) (October 31)
This is a holiday widely celebrated with different name in many countries .Although it originated(發源) as a religious holiday, it has lost its religious connections in the United States. It is now celebrated largely as a children's day, and many American children look forward to it for days and weeks beforehand. The orange pumpkin is harvested(收穫) at this time of year and is hollowed(挖空) out, a funny face cut into it, and a candle placed inside as a decoration(裝飾) in the window. City folks, nowadays, sometimes use paper pumpkins for decorations. Some years ago, the holiday was celebrated by dressing up in strange and frightening costumes(戲服) and playing tricks(戲弄) on one's neighbors and friends, such as ringing door bells, throwing bits of corn(穀物) on the window panes(窗格玻璃), and in other ways making minor disturbances(小騷擾).
Note: originated(發源)harvested(收穫)hollowed(挖空)decoration(裝飾)costumes(戲服)tricks(戲弄)corn(穀物)panes(窗格玻璃)disturbances(小騷擾)

Boxing Day 節禮日(初)
In the English-speaking world, the day after Christmas Day has a special name. We call it Boxing Day.
This makes it sound like a day on which everyone has a fight, but the name has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. It derives from the custom in former times of presenting servants and tradesmen with a Christmas box or gift. Here in Britain we still talk about giving the milkman or newspaper-delivery boy a Christmas box, when we mean a sum of money or present. The expression dates from the time when the money would have been put into an actual box.
Boxing Day in modern times is a quiet day. Most people are recovering from the large meals they ate the day before. The children have new toys to keep them happy, and the adults are content to watch them play.
Perhaps it would be a good idea of Boxing Day actually was made to honor that sport. Then, on other days, we could celebrate Football Day, Cricket Day, Hockey Day, and so on. There are probably enough different sports to allow each day of the year to have one to itself.

Christmas Day 耶誕節(中)
Christmas is a joyful religious (宗教的) holiday when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Christmas story comes from the Bible (聖經). An angel appeared to shepherds (牧羊人) and told them that a Savior (救世主) had been born to Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. Three Wise Man from the East (the Magic) followed a wondrous star which led them to the baby Jesus to whom they paid homage (表示敬意) and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. To people all over the world, Christmas is a season of giving and receiving presents. In Scandinavian and other European countries, Father Christmas, or Saint Nicholas, comes into houses in the night and leaves gifts for the children. Saint Nicholas is represented as a kindly man with a red cloak and long white beard. He visited houses and left gifts, bringing people happiness in the coldest months if the year. Anther character (人物) , the Norse God Odin, rode on a magical flying horse across the sky in the winter to reward people with gifts. These different legends (傳說)passed the ages to make the present-day Santa Claus. Immigrant settlers brought Father Christmas to the United States. Father Christmas's name was gradually changed to Santa Claus, from the Dutch name for Father Christmas, which is Sinter Claus Although he has origins (淵源) in Norse and pre-Christian mythology (神話) , Santa Claus took shape in the United States. American gave Santa Claus a white beard, dressed him in a red suit and made him a cheery old gentleman with red cheeks and twinkle in his eye. Several American towns maintain the spirit of Santa Claus. The New England State of Connecticut has a Christmas village where "Santa" and his elves give out gifts. In New York, a small town called the North Pole was designed for Santa Claus. There is a post office, a church and a blacksmith shop, to repair the shoes of the reindeer. Santa Claus exists only in our imagination. But he, Saint Nicholas, and Father Christmas are spirits of giving, Christmas has been associated with gift giving since the Wise Men brought gifts to welcome the newborn Jesus Christ.

Christmas Tree 耶誕節(中)
One thing that most homes in America have at Christmas time is a Christmas tree, even in Hawaii where trees must be brought in by ship. But why a tree at Christmas? Trees have always been given a special place in the myths(神話), legends(傳說), traditions, and religious beliefs(宗教信仰). Germany---The Christmas tree really started in Germany. Some historians think that the Christmas tree was a kind of Christian(基督教的 ) hope for spring to come soon. Why? Well, first of all, Christmas Day comes right after the longest winter night, and people in the far north would soon expect the days to come longer. And, of course, Christ's birth was associated with (與......相聯繫)the bringing in new life. Second, an evergreen tree (one that stayed green all winter long) was eventually also connected by Christians with the idea of everlasting (永恆的)life, which Jesus Christ said he was bringing from God to Mankind. Paradise (天堂)tree--- In addition, Christians had for centuries honored Adam and Eve on December 24th by bringing into their house an evergreen tree the called the paradise tree. (Paradise was one name used in the Bible for the Garden of Eden(伊甸園), the home of the first human Adam and Eve.) And they decorated their Paradise Tree with red apples. (By Harvey M. Taylor, Ph.D. Special Days Special Ways, Peking University Press )

NEW YEAR’S DAYS 新年(中)
"Happy New year!"
"The same to you, and many more." The familiar greeting heard throughout the United States on January First has a counterpart in every land. The words may be different and the dates may vary, but New Year greetings everywhere express the hope for renewed life and happiness.
Whether the New Year's Eve party is in a luxurious hotel ballroom or in modest home, it will be gay, noisy and glittery. The music will be loud and carefree, and there will be bright colors , festive foods, and high good spirits to make this last night of the year one of fun and frivolity. At celebrations in restaurants, clubs and shipboard salons, guests are given silly paper hats and noisemakers (n. 狂歡時時用以發出噪音的器物) and as the evening goes on no one remains a stranger. At midnight everyone joins hands and signs, "We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne."
Preparation for the party includes planning what one will wear. If it is a formal affair, men will wear tuxedos and the ladies will put on their most elegant gowns. And even small parties mean "dressing up." But if it is a masked ball(n.假面舞會), "dressing up" takes another form. The guests vie (vi.競爭) for the most original, exotic, dignity and appealing costume. Hidden behind a mask or domino. Dignity and care are cast aside, and not until unmasking at midnight must the party-goers discard the illusion of their changed personalities.
Not everyone goes to a party, but almost everyone makes an occasion of New Year's Eve. A favorite place to see the old year out is New York City 's Times Square. Thousands of New Yorkers and tourists crowd this famous spot (at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue) and crane their necks to watch for "Happy New Year" to flash across the electronically controlled sign tract that circles the Allied Chemical Tower. When the moment arrives bedlam(n.喧鬧聲) breaks forth. Bells ring, whistles blow, people cheer with unrestrained exuberance(n.充溢).
This chaotic scene is repeated in public squares throughout the country, but not at the same moment. Because of the four time zones in the United States the New Year comes to the central States one hour later, to the Mountain States two hours later, and finally to the Western States three hours after the Eastern States have noisily said good bye to another year. So by following the radio and television broadcasts everyone can enjoy the festivities in other parts of the country as well as their own.
Then with the arrival of the new year, thoughts turn to the future-a future viewed optimistically and hopefully. Greeting cards and spoken messages convey wishes for health, wealth and long life. A new year allows a fresh start and New Year's resolutions abound.
Grown-ups and children alike enthusiastically vow(v.發誓) to get rid of their bad habits and resolve to lead better lives. Children are apt(a.易於的) to write down their resolutions with solemn ceremony:
"I resolve to stop teasing my sister."
"I resolve to save part of my allowance"
"I resolve to hang up my clothes before I go to bed."
To show their seriousness they sign their names and deliver the paper to a parent for safe-keeping. Adults make equally ambitious resolutions:
"I resolve to stop smoking."
"I resolve to lose weight."
"I resolve to learn a new language."
Despite the sincerity of the resolutions, no one seems surprised that the determination to "turn over a new leaf" disappears before the new year is well started.
Although New Year's traditions in the United States stem from as many cultures as do the people themselves, they have gradually assumed a typical American flavor. The giving of gifts, for instance, an important part of Roman and Old English tradition, has all but disappeared. Instead, New Year's cards are exchanged among friends and relatives, and commercial firms combine greeting with advertisement of their products by distributing calendars and small trinkets. There are, of course, notable survivals still followed in their original form. Two of the most cherished came from Scotland: toasting from the wassail bowl and the ever-popular song, "Auld Lang Syne."
The custom of visiting friends, relatives and neighbors on New Year's Day is one of the Old World traditions that have taken on a new form in the United States. It is called the Open House.
An open house is just what the name implies: the front door is left open, inside there is a spirit of relaxed cordiality(n.熱誠), and guests are free to arrive and leave when they like. Invitations may say simply, "come drink a New Year's toast with us."
New Year's dinners with traditional holiday foods and drinks are customary with many families. It is a time to cement ties of kinship and to observe both faces of January--to be grateful for the blessings of the past year while looking forward to a brighter future..

Spring Festival 春節(中)
China's traditional festivals have evolved (演化,發展)through the centuries from past major events. For instance, long ago when people had a bountiful harvest, they gathered and celebrated their good fortune with gala performances(盛大的演出). When natural disasters struck, they offered sacrifices to the gods and their ancestors, hoping for a blessing(保佑). The change of the seasons, flowers in spring, and the bright moon in autumn could all arouse their longing for a more beautiful life. Thus, creative activities were held to signify these events. Gradually these activities developed into festivals.
The most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. It is said that the Spring Festival evolved from an activity known as the Winter Sacrifice(祭品). It was a custom practiced by the people of primitive society.(原始社會)
As the cold winter began to recede and the warm spring was about to begin, the people of an entire clan (家族)gathered together. They brought out their bounty from hunting, fishing and the field. They thanked the gods for the blessings of nature, including the mountains, rivers, the sun, moon and stars. They thanked their ancestors. Then they shared and enjoyed the sumptuous bounty of the land, sea, air and fields as they ate, danced and sang heartily.
In the beginning, their activities had no fixed date. But usually it was held at the end of each winter. Gradually, through the years, it was celebrated at the end of the old year or the beginning of the new. With the changes and disintegration of primitive society, the form and content of the Winter Sacrifice also changed. Ultimately, it became a festival to bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new year(辭舊迎新). So it came to be called the Spring Festival.
All the traditional festivals in China are based on the Chinese lunar calendar(陰曆). The Spring Festival marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. In Chinese, we also say Guo Nian, meaning keeping off the monster of Nian.
There are many legends about the origin (起源)of Nian. The most popular one is this. It is said that Nian was a fierce monster back in ancient times. It looked like a strong bull with head like that of a lion. Usually the monster stayed deep in the mountains and caught and ate other beasts. But during the winter, it could not find enough food. So it came out of its mountain lair(獸穴) and entered villages to eat whatever it could catch. Villagers became very frightened and moved away to escape the ferocious monster. But later the people found that even though it was fierce, Nian was afraid of three things: the red color, a bright flame, and a loud noise. After learning this, they figured out how to prevent Nian from entering their villages.
Just before Nian came again, every household painted their door red and burned a fire in front of their door-ways. Besides, the people did not go to bed. Instead, they stayed up all night beating on things to make a loud noise. Ever since, Nian has never again come to villages.
Thus, a tradition was established and the customs have been kept through the years. Later, the people found that bamboo could make a crackling sound when burned. In time, the noise of crackling bamboo was replaced with bang of firecrackers(鞭炮). This is how the Chinese people began to set off firecrackers for the Spring Festival. (By Dai Yirong, Excerpt of Cultural Background of China, China Radio International, World Publishing corporation.)

National Holiday 感恩節(中)
Thanksgiving Day is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is the most traditional of American holidays. The first Thanksgiving was held in Massachusetts in 1621. After a year of great hardship, the Pilgrim (清教徒) colonists wanted to give thanks to God for their first harvest. They invited their Indian friends to join them in big feast. Today the holiday is still celebrated as a day for giving thanks. It is a day of family reunion and it is customary to invite friends to share the meal. In some large cities, there are carnival parades for children. In other cities, there are important football games that are played on Thanksgiving Day.
In my family, we always go to my grandmother's house on Thanksgiving Day. All my aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces gather for a family homecoming. We always invite some friends to join us. Everyone is glad to see everyone else and there is a very busy exchange of gossip. The women soon disappear into the kitchen to help my grandmother prepare the dinner. The men, meanwhile, settle down to watch a football game on television or to discuss business or politics. If the weather permits, some of the more athletic men go outside to play ball with the children. At about four o'clock we all sit down to dinner. My grandfather gives thanks for the blessings we have received and then he starts to carve the turkey. We always have the traditional dinner of stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, apple cider, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, and pumpkin pie. After dinner, no one can move and we all sit around and talk, play word games, or tell jokes until it is time to go home. It is always difficult to leave because Thanksgiving Day is one of the few days of the year when the entire family gets together.

Thanksgiving Day 感恩節(高)
No other holiday that is today widely observed in North. America has such a long and curious history as Thanksgiving.
Throughout the Bible, there are references to the Israelites setting apart days for special thanksgiving to the Lord. Such days were common in England before the reformation and afterwards figured in the lives of the Protestants. In 1872, February 27 was set aside as a day of thanksgiving for the Prince of Wales recovery from typhoid fever, for example.
But these were only days of thanksgiving. The real, distinctively American Thanksgiving Day is a legacy of the Pilgrims- the English colonists, led by separatists form the Church of England- who arrived in America in December 1620 aboard the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Colony.
During the winter after arriving in the New World, 47 of the 103 Mayflower passengers died, but the remainder did not lose hope. By spring, each family had a home, and all were planting grains they had brought with them and corn given them by friendly Wampanoag Indians. They were eating fish the Indians had taught them how to net, along with wild game from the woods.
In gratitude for the plenteous harvest, Governor Bradford set aside December 13, 1621 (old Style calendar) for feasting and celebration.
There was no specific day of thanksgiving set aside in 1622. But in 1623, Thanksgiving Day was so devoted to showing gratitude to God, rather than to social activity, that some authorities say it was the real beginning of Thanksgiving as we know it today. after the hard, severe winter of 1622-23, the Pilgrims planted seeds. Governor Bradford wrote that they hoped for a large crop, but suffered a drought from May till July.
After discussing the situation with the worried colonists, Governor Bradford ordered a day of prayer and fasting, during which the Pilgrims were to humble themselves before the Lord.
The crops were saved, and, after the harvest,“another solemn day was set apart for returning glory, honor and praise, with all thankfulness, to our Good God."
During the following years throughout New England, there were specific days of thanksgiving-sometimes once a year, sometimes twice. Sometimes a year was skipped. The part of the day spent in religious services varied, at least partially in keeping with the colonists' and the preachers' assessment of just how much they had to be thankful for at that particular time.
George Washington was inaugurated president of the United Stated on April 30, 1789, and a few months later issued his first proclamation. It had to do with Thanksgiving. In September, a few days before Congress adjourned, Rep. Elias Boudinot made a motion that the president be requested to recommend a day of prayer and thanksgiving for the many blessings of the Almighty God, and particularly for His allowing than to establish a government that would provide safety and happiness. The motion was carried, and President Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, to be Thanksgiving Day. Washington included in his proclamation:“It is the duty of nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.
The several presidents after Washington generally left to the governors of the states the decision about whether there should be a specified day for thanksgiving, and, if so, what day it should be. However, after the War of 1812, President James Madison did proclaim a special nationwide day of thanksgiving for peace.
President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War wrote the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation since George Washington's time, designating the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Lincoln in 1864 issued another Thanksgiving Proclamation, and most U.S. presidents who followed him did the same. In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt ended his Thanksgiving message with Americans, in our deepest natures, in our very souls, like all mankind, turn to God. 'In God we trust.' "
In 1952, Harry S. Truman included in his proclamation, "We are grateful for the privileges and rights inherent in our way of life, and in particular for the basic freedoms, which our citizens can enjoy without fear." President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 ended his Thanksgiving Proclamation with these words:" Let us be especially grateful for the religious heritage bequeathed us by the Pilgrims, who after gathering their first harvest set apart a special day for rendering thanks to God for the bounties vouchsafed to them.
Notes: Reformation:宗教改革。 Typhoid fever:傷寒。 Separatist:英國16至17世紀主張脫離國教者。 Humble:使卑下。 assessment:評估。 Bequeath:把 遺留給。 vouchsafe:賜予。

ROMANTIC VALENTINE 情人節(高)
People in countries as far apart as Japan, the Unite States, Australia and France send Valentine cards to someone they fancy on 14 February, St Valentine's Day. Most cards are romantic and express secret love messages which don't let on who the sender is.
There was a time in Victorian Britain and America when men used to send rued and insulting cards to tease a lady they either loved or loathed. The problem for the recipient was trying to guess not only who the sender was, but also what his secret feelings might be. Most of the nasty cards were addressed to the pot-bellied, cross-eyed, one-legged or to old maids, wishing them the three dreadful "Ds": Disgrace, Death or Damnation.
Mr Jordan's shop at 2 Mile Street in Boston, USA, did a brisk trade in Valentine cards imported from England last century. Many clients ordered their cards a year ahead.
Today's pop stars can look forward to getting a current American favourite: a card to which is attached a blob of chewing gum and this message:“We can be Valentines if you don't gum things up."
The lovesick British excel themselves each Valentine's Day by buying up huge spaces in newspapers to fill with messages for a Very Special Person. Anyone who reads the British national papers on 14 February will see romantic Britons at their most lovelorn, cryptic and erotic. Unexpectedly, The Times has more columns of lovers' messages than any other paper. Next is usually the Daily Mail, followed by The Guardian, Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph.
Senders of newspaper messages, whether they are in Britain, North America or Australia, must get a thrill out of their exhibitionism without letting on who is the secret admirer hidden in the words of the advertisement. The British newspaper ad brigade tend to see themselves or the desired one as animals, with bears the firm favourites. But fleas, toads, bugs and mice are well represented.
Food symbols often occur too: prunes and cookies are popular, also cherry pies and sausages. A lot of items are prefaced by "tasty" ,“crunchy" or“yummy".
In America they even advertise St Valentine's Day on television. One commercial shown in Houston, Texas, last year featured an elegant woman sweeping through a leafy glade in a sensuous gown. Her message was:“This Valentine's Day, give your lover a plastic surgery voucher." While over on the West Coast laundries were offering to clean free anything that was red or had hearts on it.
Who is this saint whose fame has spread around the world? In truth, there are 52 St Valentines, but no one knows which gave his name to Valentine's Day. One fact is acknowledged by love historians: all the likely candidates were martyred, dying with their knots of celibacy still securely tied. One Valentine gave aid to persecuted Christians, and while in prison for this he formed a friendship with the blind daughter of his gaoler. When he was taken away to be executed he wrote her a farewell message, which he signed:“From your Valentine".
Whether or not this is the right Valentine, one thing is certain: the name Valentine name Valentine means "powerful" or "strong".
The power of Valentine has won the hearts of many Japanese. One Tokyo department store says that 80 per cent of its February sales of chocolates are made in the two days before the 14th. Though chocolate hearts are popular, there are many shapes that are uniquely Japanese: one, shaped like a thermometer, is called Hearty Sick.
In parts of the English countryside it is still believed that a girl can tell the occupation of her future husband by nothing which bird she sees first on 14 February.
But if it's a woodpecker she will find no man at all. Happy birdwatching! Happy Valentine's Day!
Notes: Valentine =St Valentine Day:聖瓦倫丁節, Fancy喜愛,傾心. Recipient:接受者. Potbellied:大腹便便的. Damnation:詛咒,遭天罰. a blob of chewing gum:一塊粘乎乎的口香糖。 Lovelorn:因失戀而 憔悴的。 Cryptic:隱秘的,含義隱晦的。 Erotic:色情的。Exhibitionism:自我表現癖。 Prune:梅脯。 Crunchy:發嘎吱嘎吱聲的。 Yummy:滋味好的。 Feature:特寫。 A plastic surgery voucher:整形外科手術證。 Martyre:殉道,為信仰而受難。 Cross-eyed:鬥雞眼的。

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