years, the Christmas trees were to be seen in countless British homes, and thousands were annually on sale at Covent Garden Market. A century later the tradition has overflowed from the houses into the streets and squares. Churches of every denomination have their lighted and decorated trees, and since 1947 Oslo had made an annual gift to the people of London, in the form of an immense tree which stands in Trafalgar Square, close to Nelsons Monument.
The giving of presents and the exchange of Christmas cards are almost equally essential parts of the Christmas festival in Britain today. The first one has its roots in the pre-Christian times, and the latter is little more than a century old. Presents were given to kinsfolk and to the poor at the feast of the Saturnalia in pagan Rome, and so they were at the three-day Kalends of January, when the New Year was celebrated. The Christmas cards began life in the late eighteenth century as the “Christmas piece”, a decorated sheet of paper on which schoolchildren wrote polite greetings for the season in their best handwriting, to be presented to their parents at the end of the winter term. Sometimes, also, adults wrote complimentary verses for their friends. It is now usually supposed that the artist J.C.Horsley designed the first genuine pictorial Christmas card at the instigation of Sir Henry Cole in 1843.
Father Christmas is the traditional gift-bringer in the United Kingdom. Originally he was Odin, one of the pagan gods that were brought to the British Isles from the ancient Scandinavia. When Christianity swept away the old gods, Odins role was overtaken by St. Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra during the fourth century, and who now appears in some European countries (such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and others) wearing episcopal robes and a mitre, being accompanied by a servant carrying a sack of gifts.
Still one should note that the pure British Father Christmas seems to have been more a personification of the joys of Christmas than just a gift-bringer. He was first mentioned in a fifteen-century carol, then abolished by Parliament in 1644 (along with everything else connected with the Feast of Christmas), came back after Restoration, and is nowdays one of the British living traditions. In the nineteenth century he acquired some of the attributes of the Teutonic Santa Claus, and now is being thought of as the essential gift-bringer, coming by night from the Far North in a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and entering the houses he visits by way of the chimney.
Christmas food has always been largely a matter of tradition, but its nature has changed a great deal with passage of time. The turkey which is now the most usual dish on Christmas Day didnt appear in Britain until about 1542. Its predecessors were goose, or pork, or beef, or a huge pie made up of a variety of birds. In the grater houses venison, swans, bustards, or peacocks in their feathers were eaten. The ancestor of another traditional British food, the Christmas pudding, was plum porridge (until 1670).
Another feature of the Christmas time in Britain is represented by carols, which are the popular and happy songs of the Christian religion which came into being after the religious revival of the thirteenth century, and flourished more strongly in the three centuries that followed. Carols were swept away by Puritanism during the Commonwealth, and they didnt come back into general favor for about 200 years afterwards, but never vanished altogether. Now, nearly all British churches have their carol service. In many towns, the people gather round the communal Christmas tree, or in the town hall, to sing carols under the leadership of the local clergy, or of the mayor.
The 26 December is the St. Stephens Day, the first Christmas martyr, far better known in England as Boxing Day. A name is derived either from the alms boxes in churches, which were opened, and their contents distributed to the poor on that day, or from the earthenware boxes that apprentices used to carry round with them when they were collecting money gifts from their masters customers. Until very recently it was usual for the postman, the dustman and a few other servants of the public to call at all the houses they have served during the year, and to receive small gifts from the householders on Boxing Day.”
Then follows a set (3-4) of brief reports by students on the holidays that follow the Christmas season (that time which is called the Opening Year in GB). Reports are supposed to be prepared at home. The approximate variants of 3 reports are:
- “The New Year comes in very merrily in most parts of Britain, with the pealing of bells and the blowing of ships sirens and train whistles, and singing of the traditional “Auld Lang Syne”, although the majority know only some of the words. Great crowds assemble outside St. Pauls Cathedral in London to see the Old Year out and welcome in the New. Private parties are held everywhere, and good wishes are exchanged. Some celebrate the occasion more quietly and see a Watch Night service in some Anglican or Nonconformist church.
In the north of United Kingdom, especially in Scotland, the custom of First-footing has been flourishing for centuries. The First Foot is the first visitor to any house in the morning hours of 1 January. He is considered to be a luck-bringer. He is welcomed with food and drink (especially the last one), and brings with him symbolic gifts, which are most usually a piece of bread, a lump of coal, salt, and a little money, all of which together ensure that his hosts will have food and warmth and prosperity all throughout the year.
In Northumberland the New Year is welcomed by a fire ceremony, followed by First-footing. A great bonfire is built in the main square of a town or village, and left unlit. As the midnight approaches, The so-called Guisers in various gay costumes form a procession, each man carrying a blazing tar barrel on his head. Thus crowned with flames and preceded by the band, they march to the bonfire, circulate it and throw their burning barrels on it, setting it on fire. The spectators cheer and sing, and the Guisers go off First-footing all round the perish.”
- “Another New Year custom is Burning the Bush, not very widely spread now but of great fame in the days gone, especially in the rural England. In former years, almost every home and farm had its own Bush, or howthorn globe which, together with a bunch of mistletoe, hung in the farm kitchen all through the year. At about five oclock in the morning on 1 January it was taken down, carried out to the first-sown wheatfield, and there burnt on a large straw fire. Then all the men concerned in the affair made a ring round the fire and cried “Auld-Ci-der”. Afterwards there was cheering, and the drinking of the farmers health, and feasting upon cider and plum cake. Meanwhile, a new Bush was being made at home and hung up in the place of the old. All this was supposed to bring good luck to the crops.
The Twelfth Night and Twelfth Day - 5 and 6 January are popularly so called because the mark the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Over the last two centuries, the twelve-day period had steadily shrunk, and now only three days Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the New Years Day remain as official holidays. Bonfires are lit on Twelfth Night in many parts of the British Midlands, often 12 in number, with one made larger than the rest, to represent Lord and his Apostles. Sometimes there are 13 bonfires, one standing for Judas Iscariot, which is stamped out soon after it is lit.”
- “The Monday after Twelfth Day is Plough Monday, a day of rural festivity, especially in the northern counties and the Midlands. Theoretically, work starts again then on the farm, after the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and the spring ploughing begins, but in fact, very little work is done.
On 2 February, the double feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Purification of Our Lady is celebrated in Britain. It is popularly known as Candlemas Day because candles are blessed in the churches then, distributed to the congregations, and carried in procession. This custom has existed on the British Isles since the fifth century, as well as in the continental Europe under the Roman Catholic Church influence.
The day after Candlemas is the Feast of St. Blaise, who is the patron saint of wool-combers, and of all who suffer from diseases of the throat. The beautiful ceremony of Blessing the Throat takes place on this day in many English churches.
Another famous and well-known February celebration is St. Valentines Day, on 14 February. The word “Valentine” has a double meaning. It means the person concerned, the chosen sweetheart, but it is also applied to the Valentine gift or to the Valentine card, which replaced the traditional gift in the nineteenth century as it (the gift) went out of fashion. “
4) Systematization of the new knowledge and training for its application in practice (
The basis for practical training can be listening to a record of native speakers narration or any other kind of listening comprehension exercise with following wide discussion on the spoken subject. The whole idea of the lesson is to minimize the amount of time that students spend working with textbook material and maximize the communicative aspect of the lesson. Each exercise should be spoken over by students upon the completion. In course of all conversation, students shoul