Category Archives: Holidays

The History of Easter

“Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the New Testament of the Bible, the event is said to have occurred three days after Jesus was crucified by the Romans and died in roughly 30 A.D.” The History Site

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

British and American festivities

 

Excerpt: Easter 2018 — The History Site

The Last Supper, c.1678 (oil on canvas), Champaigne, Jean Baptiste de

“The holiday concludes the ‘Passion of Christ,’ a series of events and holidays that begins with Lent—a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and sacrifice—and ends with Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday (the celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper with his 12 Apostles), Good Friday (on which Jesus’ death is observed), and Easter Sunday.

Although a holiday of high religious significance in the Christian faith, many traditions associated with Easter date back to pre-Christian, pagan times.

When Is Easter?

Easter 2018 occurs on Sunday, April 1. However, Easter falls on a different date each year. Easter Sunday and related celebrations, such as Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, are considered “moveable feasts,” although, in western Christianity, which follows the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.

Religious [Meaning] of Easter:

Ron DiCianni – The Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus, as described in the New Testament of the Bible, is essentially the foundation upon which the Christian religions are built. Hence, Easter is a very significant date on the Christian calendar.

Passover and Easter:

Passover-dreamstime.com

Notably, Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover, as well as the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, as described in the Old Testament.

Easter Traditions:

Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday:

Ash Wednesday & Lent 2017-

In western Christianity, including Roman Catholicism and Protestant denominations, the period prior to Easter holds special significance. This period of fasting and penitence is called Lent. It begins on Ash Wednesday, and lasts for 40 days (not including Sundays). The Sunday immediately prior to Easter is called Palm Sunday, and it commemorates Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, when followers laid palm leaves across the road to greet him.

Easter Eggs:

Painted Easter eggs. 4freephotos.com

Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions with roots that can be traced to non-Christian and even pagan or non-religious celebrations. Many non-Christians choose to observe these traditions while essentially ignoring the religious aspects of the celebration. Examples of non-religious Easter traditions include Easter eggs, and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating. It’s believed that eggs represented fertility and birth in certain pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity.

Easter Bunny:

In some households, a character known as the Easter Bunny delivers candy and chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning. These candies often arrive in an Easter basket.

The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown, although some historians believe it arrived in America with German immigrants in the 1700s.

From ESL Voices:

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about  the Easter holiday.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Easter is a holiday of high religious significance.
  2. Traditions associated with Easter date back to pre-Christian, pagan times.
  3. Eastern Orthodox Christianity adheres to the Julian calendar.
  4. Those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection are given “the gift” of eternal life.
  5. In western Christianity the period prior to Easter holds special significance.
  6. Holy Week ends on Easter.
  7. Irrespective of denomination, there are many Easter-time traditions.
  8. The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are unknown.
  9. Several Protestant Christian denominations, have opted to formally abandon Easter traditions, deeming them too pagan.
  10. An Easter dinner of lamb also has historical roots, since a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Easter is a Jewish holiday.
  2. Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
  3. The Last Supper was essentially a Passover feast.
  4. In western Christianity the period prior to Easter holds no special significance.
  5. The Sunday immediately prior to Easter is called Palm Sunday.
  6. Palm Sunday commemorates when palm trees  were first grown.
  7. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Easter rituals start with the Great Lent.
  8. Examples of non-religious Easter traditions include Easter eggs, and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating.
  9. Mostly adults  participate in Easter egg hunts.
  10. The exact origins of the Easter Bunny tradition are known.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

___ some denominations ___Protestant Christianity, Easter Sunday marks the beginning ___ Eastertide.

Despite its significance ___ a Christian holy day, many ___ the traditions and symbols that play a key role ___ Easter observances actually have roots ___ pagan celebrations.

He was sentenced ___ death ___Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect ___ the province of Judea ___ 26 ___ 36 A.D.

III. Post Reading Activities

 KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

Is the Easter holiday celebrated in your country?

Are there any special traditions in your family to celebrate Easter?

From reading the article, do you think  Easter was celebrated more long ago?  Explain why or why not.

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Holidays | Tags:

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit-Greetings1

Excerpt: The History of New Year History.com

“The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries.

New Year Celebration, Vienna, Austria. Photo Image gallery.

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

In Sweden, it is believed that whoever gets that one peeled almond hidden inside the rice pudding at Christmas will get married within a year. Credit: the scoop.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

The London Eye on the River Thames during New Year fireworks and celebrations. The Telegraph.

New Year Celebration New York City’s Times Square. Photo- C. Morris.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight…Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 400-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.”

From ESL Voices To All of Our Readers:

Wishing Everyone A Very Happy New Year!

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Intermediate-Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson)  and access to article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article about New Year’s celebrations with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Task

Prediction:Analyze headings and photos.

Directions: Read the title of the post, and article.  Analyze the photo(s) to see if  you can predict what  information the article will discuss.  Then based on this information,  make a list of ideas,  words and phrases that might be in the article.

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about New Year’s celebrations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia.
  2. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st.
  3. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Gregorian calendar.
  4. Common traditions include attending parties, and eating special New Year’s foods.
  5. Other traditions include making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
  6. The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
  7. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars.
  8. The calendars would pin the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.
  9. In Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
  10. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least five millennia.
  2. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays
  3. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Rome.
  4. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
  5. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth).
  6. In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 3 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
  7. Revelers often eat specific foods that are believed to bring good crops for the coming year.
  8. Grapes in Spain, round fruits in the Philippines, suckling pig in Austria, soba noodles in Japan are all considered good-luck food.
  9. Other customs that are common in the U.S. include making resolutions.
  10. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

III Grammar Focus

Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

Directions: Identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use the words to write a short paragraph about \ New Year celebrations in the United States.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions format

Directions: use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

K-W-L Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. Provide a description of when and how the New Year is celebrated in your country. If you live in the U.S. then discuss how you celebrate the New Year.
  2. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  3. A big New Year  tradition in the U.S. is making resolutions. Discuss a few of your own resolutions and why you are making them.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: History, Holidays

Tips: Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square This Year

“As the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square, an estimated one million people in the street, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to the departing year, and expressing our joy and hope for the year ahead. Here’s everything you need to know about joining the celebration live, in person!” Balldrop

New Year’s Celebration in Times Square, NYC

 

Excerpt: What to Expect on New Years

“Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. By approximately 3:00 p.m. If you are planning to come to Times Square and join in the festivities, you are advised to enter from Sixth or Eighth Avenue. Your chance of getting a viewing spot near the Ball (at Broadway & 43rd Street) increases the earlier you arrive.

Revelers are directed by the NYPD to gather in separate viewing sections. As one section fills up, the revelers are directed by police to the next viewing section. As the evening progresses, revelers continue to fill the Times Square neighborhood along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to as far as Central Park.

NOTE: All attendees have to go through a security check before entering the viewing areas that are barricaded by the NYPD. Large bags and backpacks are not permitted, so don’t expect to be able to bring a a lot of snacks or drinks for your wait. Though you may be on your feet for hours, public restrooms are not set up for this event.

The celebration begins with the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square. The Ball is lit at 6:00pm and begins its ascent accompanied by special pyrotechnic effects.

Shiny LEDs Ring In the New Year

Then, the Times Square Alliance sanitation crew, clad in bright red uniforms, begins to distribute tens of thousands of fun party favors—those famous hats, glasses, and noisemakers— to the Times Square revelers to help cheer in the New Year.

Sixty seconds before the big moment, the New Year’s Eve Ball begins its descent. At the stroke of Midnight, the Ball’s lights on are turned off as the numerals of the New Year “2017” burst to life shining high above Times Square.

Confetti Time

The world-famous New Year’s Eve confetti is released from the rooftops of buildings throughout Times Square creating a celebratory blizzard of colorful confetti as revelers welcome the New Year accompanied by colorful pyrotechnic effects.”

Category: Holidays | Tags:

O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi Revisited

“O.Henry (William Sydney Porter) wrote “The Gift of the Magi” for his New York World column in December, 1905. If you know anything about him, you won’t be surprised that O.Henry, who died of cirrhosis five years later, wrote his classic holiday story in a bar, Pete’s Tavern, on 18th Street, near Gramercy Place… O.Henry wrote “The Gift of the Magi” in three hours. Was he drinking that afternoon? Did he feel the emotion of the story as he wrote? Or was he knowingly, cynically, exploiting his readers’ desire for a happy ending in the Christmas season? We’ll never know.I loved the ending and never read it without tearing up.” J. Kornbluth, The Huffington Post

Excerpt: “…O.Henry Wrote His Christmas Classic, ‘The Gift Of The Magi,’ In 1905. In ‘The Gift Of Gifts,’ I Update It. J. Kornbluth, The Huffington Post

“The magi, as you know, were wise men — wonderfully wise men — who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.

The Magi. image- englishatstjohns.wikispace

Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.

O.Henry (William Sydney Porter) 1862-1910

Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. For years, I wanted to update “The Gift of the Magi.” Like O.Henry, I was slow to get to it. Unlike O.Henry, some of my story is nonfiction… Unlike O.Henry, it took me more than three hours to write my story. And as for the emotion: yes, I felt it, all of it. As I hope you do.”

CLICK BELOW FOR THE CLASSIC LESSON PLAN:

Gift of the Magi by O. Henry Lesson Plan with Answer Key

 

Category: Holidays

Remembering Our Veterans

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.”president-obama-lays-a-wreath-at-the-tomb-of-the-unknowns-on-veterans-day

Excerpts:

THE GREAT WAR & ARMISTICE DAY

“Though the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the Great War. In November 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business activities at 11 a.m. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.vet-day

FROM ARMISTICE DAY TO VETERANS DAY

American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”vets-2016

Category: Holidays