来源：上外培训网 发布时间：2015-07-24 作者：
Today my topic is cultures and traditional holidays.
Holiday are special times of respite from work and other routines. In some cases, they are legal holidays when stores, businesses and government offices are officially closed. In other cases, they are celebrated without taking time off from work. Holidays are often times for celebration, revelry, eating, drinking, travel, and family gatherings, but they may also be times of rest and reflection. The current trend is away from rest and reflection, Even Mardi Gras, the day before the traditionally reflective period of Lent, has turned into an entire week of parties, parades and merry-making for those who make the annual pilgrimage to New Orleans, for example.
In most cultures the scheduling of holidays originally was related to the seasons, the lunar cycle, and religion, Christmas (December 25) celebrates the birth of Jesus, but it is not actually known whether Jesus was born in the wintertime. The first Roman emperor to espouse Christianity decided to have Christmas when the days are shortest to bring a spirit of optimism to the long winter months. It also helped bring Christianity to the pagans, who were accustomed to having festivals at the winter solstice, encouraging warmth and sunshine to return. Over the years Christmas has come to symbolize goodwill and generosity for both Christians and non-Christians through the personification of Santa Claus, originally a Christian saint, known as St,Nicholas. Nowadays Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer is almost as important a global symbol of Christmas as Jesus or Santa and the commercialization of Christmas threatens to replace generosity with greed. Many people forget that the original Christmas gifts were given by the Three Wise Men, all pagans, to Jesus, a Jewish child born in a manger. All they think of are the gifts they will give or receive, and all the money they have spent.
One reason for the increasing popularity of Christmas is its proximity to New Year’s Day, encouraging a long holiday to evolve out of both. In the U,S., the holiday has turned into an extended holiday season, lasting from Thanksgiving Day in late November until New Year’s Day, with a seemingly endless array of parties, dinners, concerts, parades, and vacation trips. The schools and colleges are closed from mid-December through early January while many people eat too much, drink too much, and watch too much American football on TV. Many gifts, cards, and annual newsletters are exchanged, and the various festivities are not always very restful. Then the same people make New Year’s Resolutions to eat less, drink less, spend less, and work harder in the coming year.
Christmas is by far the most important holiday in English-speaking countries. Other important holidays in addition to Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are Valentine’s Day, St,Patrick’s Day, April Fools’ Day, and Easter. On Valentine’s Day, celebrated on February 14, people give cards, chocolates, flowers, and kisses to their spouses and sweethearts. On St,Patrick’s Day, March 17, people wear green to celebrate the luck of the Irish, and eat corned beef and cabbage washed down with green beer. During Easter Week in late March or early April, Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus while Jews celebrate Passover, in memory of the escape of the Jews from ancient Egypt, where they had been slaves. Although it is not actually a holiday and has no religious connotation, April Fools’ Day, celebrated on April 1, is a day when people play embarrassing tricks on their friends and colleagues and even on their teachers. Another holiday with some similarity to April Fools’ Day is Halloween on October 31,when children wear funny or scary costumes and ask their neighbors for, “tricks or treats”, The name Halloween means, hallowed evening”, the night before All Saints’ Day when Christian saints are honored. On the following day, All Souls’ Day, services and prayers are said for the dead. In many countries, it is a day when families visit cemeteries and place flowers on the tombs of their relatives. In Europe, Labor Day is celebrated on May 1, whereas in Canada and the United States, labor and laborers are honored by a legal holiday on the first Monday in September.
本篇文章介绍文化和传统节日Culture and Traditional Holiday.本文先解释了holiday的定义。然后具体介绍了圣旦节，情人节，愚人节，万圣节、劳动节等节日的时间，宗教背景，节日庆点内容。