Category Archives: Holidays

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

Valentine’s Day Lesson

Teacher: Ryan O’Sullivan 

Email: The TEFL Academy  http://www.theteflacademy.com/

Level of students: Grade school/ Elementary students

Language skill focus: Reading and comprehension

Topic: Learning Everything There Is To Know About Valentine’s Day

Time: 30 minutes

Objective: To learn about the history and origin of Valentine’s Day.
To teach students the most common words associated with Valentine’s Day


Source: ESOL Course

Valentine's Day

Introduction:
Valentine’s Day is a special occasion celebrated by millions all over the world. February 14 is the day the whole world celebrates Valentine’s Day.

There are many ways people from different countries observe this eventful day. But before we give you interesting Valentine’s Day facts, we give you a brief history of how Valentine’s Day started.

The “day of love” also known as Valentine’s Day is named after a Christian martyr named Valentine who performed secret weddings in Rome; a ceremony that was prohibited by the Roman Emperor Claudius II.

Valentine was executed as a result of his opposition to the marriage ban ordered by the emperor. Due to his heroic acts, Valentine was canonized as the patron saint of love.

It was in the 17th century that Valentine’s Day on February 14 started to become popular as the day of love.

Friends, family members, and loved ones then started the exchange of small tokens of affection such as flowers, poems, greeting cards, and chocolates among many others.

Today, millions of people send out ready-made Valentine’s cards and electronic greeting cards to loved ones.

It is believed that almost 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are being sent worldwide every year in during this special occasion.

Objects that are most commonly associated with Valentine’s Day are hearts, flowers, chocolates, candle-lit dinners, doves, and Cupid, the Roman god of love.

Other popular gift items given out during Valentine’s Day are teddy bears and cuddly stuffed toys.

Here is a list of words that are closely related to Valentine’s Day

  • Valentines- a greeting card that you send to a person you like or love.
  • (Example: A romantic text message or card that says. “Be my Valentine.” This is an invite that men use when they invite women out on a date for Valentine’s Day.

  • A Valentine (person)- A person you love or have a romantic relationship with.
  • Cupid- the ancient Roman god of love. Cupid is represented by a baby boy with wings. He also has an arrow that he uses for two people to make them start to love each other.
  • Arrow– an sharp object used by Cupid to make people attracted with one another.
  • Date- special activity for people who have romantic relationships with each other. Dates usually include eating a meal together or simply spending quality time in each other’s company.
  • Bouquet– a term used to describe a bundle or group of flowers beautifully arranged and given to women. Men give bouquets of flowers to women with whom they are in relationships with.

The Most Common American Traditions During Valentine’s Day

  • Americans send greeting cards to friends and family on Valentine’s Day.
  • On Valentine’s Day, couples usually go to dinner dates to celebrate the day of love.
  •  Children at school celebrate Valentine’s Day through arts and crafts. They create homemade gifts such as heart-shaped greeting cards, paper roses, and chocolates for their family members, friends, and teachers.
  •  A lot of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day with other special occasions such as marriage proposals and weddings.
  •  Although widely celebrated in the United States, Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday.

 The most popular symbols of Valentine’s Day


red and pink hearts for decorations

  pictures and statues of Cupid


hugging and kissing couples


chocolates


love letters and 
fine jewelry


Valentine’s Day Quiz
Directions: Choose the answer you think is correct for each question:

1. Saint Valentine’s is also known as?

a. The patron saint of flowers

b. The patron saint of gifts

c. The patron saint of weddings

d. The patron saint of love

2. What is the name of the Roman emperor who banned marriages in 270 AD?

a. Constantine

b. Claudius II

c. Julius Caesar

d. Tiberius

3. Who is the Roman God of love?

a. Mars

b. Pscyhe

c. Cupid

d. Narcissus

4. Valentine’s Day is a day that the whole world celebrates…

a. banned secret weddings

b. eating chocolates

c. love poems

d. love and romance

5. How many Valentine’s Day greeting cards are being sent out every year worldwide?

a. about 1 billion

b. about 500 million

c. about 10 million

d. none of the above

Test your Valentine’s Day Vocabulary

1. Valentine’s Day is ______________ on February 14th each year.

a. flowers

b. dates

c. celebrated

d. love

2. Valentine’s Day is a popular ____________ for marriage proposals and weddings.

a. date

b. day

c. occasion

d. festival

3. Flowers and ___________ are famous presents to give during Valentine’s Day.

a. arrows

b. roses

c. chocolates

d. dates

4. In the United States, it is a custom to send greeting cards called _________________.

a. flowers

b. arrows

c. Valentines

d. Be my Valentines

5. A popular symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid carrying a bow and an ____________.

a. roses

b. dates

c. arrow

d. stuffed toys

6. ____________ is a term describing a person you love.

a. Valentine

b. Cupid

c. St. Valentine

d. Flowers

7. Couples usually go out on ___________ on Valentine’s Day.

a. weddings

b. stuffed toy

c. marriage proposal

d. dates

8. When couples spend quality time together, they have a __________.

a. Valentine’s Day

b. Date

c. Wedding

d. Engagement

Easy Valentine’s Day Rhymes Quiz


Directions: Find the answers to these simple rhymes in the second column:

A Valentine’s Day COLOR that  that rhymes with, sink.

A popular Valentine’s Day COLOR rhymes with the word, bed.

The Roman God of Love that rhymes with stupid.

Things that you give on Valentine’s Day that rhymes with lift.

A written note you give that rhymes with yard.

What cupid carries that rhymes with go.

What activity couples do that rhymes with late.

A popular Valentine’s symbol that
rhymes with art.

What couples do that rhymes with
miss.

a. Gift b. Heart c. Cupid d. Love e. Pink f. Date g. Red h. Bow i. Card j. Kiss

Category: Guest Plan, Holidays