Category Archives: Holidays

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.”


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



“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


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

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

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


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

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

Category: Guest Plan, Holidays

What Does ‘Auld Lang Syne’ Mean?

“Here it is. The answer to a perennial question of what on earth does “Auld Lang Syne” mean? The confusion over the song is arguably almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. As revelers stumble and mumble through the verses-singing the “auld lang syne” part much louder than the rest of the song because it’s really the only part people know-someone always asks what the words mean.” C. Ng Abcnews

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

Excerpt: ‘Auld Lang Syne’: What Does it Mean Again? By Christina Ng

“Despite its strong association with New Year’s Eve, “Auld Lang Syne,” written by Robert Burns in the 1700s, was never intended to be a holiday song.

Image- themorgan

Image- themorgan

Guy Lombardo is credited with popularizing the song when his band used it as a segue between two radio programs during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929. By coincidence, they played “Auld Lang Syne” just after the clock hit midnight, and a New Year’s tradition was born.

The song, and the confusion that comes with it, has been immortalized in countless movies and TV shows…So as you surround yourself with friends old and new tonight, sing on. And if you really want to impress people, here are the lyrics to the English translated version of the song you’ll probably hear:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne

Auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne

For those who have never heard this song listen below:



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