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Western Holidays


  Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian countries Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do with Christianity.

  Traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.


  The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter. In that year Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians.
  Days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies after fall harvests. All thirteen colonies did not, however, celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time until October 1777. George Washington was the first president to declare the holiday, in 1789.

  第一个美国人庆贺的感恩节1621,为了纪念普利茅斯殖民地的人民在经过一个歉收荒芜的冬季后迎来丰收。在那一年,州长William Bradford宣布那天作为感恩节殖民者把它当成传统的英国丰收节日来庆贺,在当天,他们还邀请当地的印地安的万泊诺亚格人。感恩的节日延续了整个秋季的收获季节,但其他的十三个殖民地没有庆贺这个节日,直到177710月。乔治-华盛顿1789年宣布把它定为节日,他也是第一位宣布感恩节的总统。

  Valentine's Day(情   人   节)

  The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

  So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
  According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.


  Fathers' Day(父 亲 节)

  In the 1900s, Fathers’ Day was created when Sonora Louise Smart Dodd wanted to express her deep appreciation to her own father, William Smart, who was widowed when his wife died at giving birth. Mr. Smart raised his six children on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. When Ms. Dodd was grown she wanted to show her appreciation to her father. So, in 1909, she proposed a day to honor her father in June (the month of her father's birth).
  The very first Fathers' Day followed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge showed support of this becoming a national holiday. However, it wasn't until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed Fathers' Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.


  Mothers’ Day母亲节

  The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday". Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent. In the United States Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace. By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state.

  While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.




  Boxing Day(礼盒节)

  In England a long time ago…

  Servants were required to work on Christmas. They were responsible for making the holiday run smoothly for wealthy landowners. They were allowed to take leave on December 26th and visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses. In addition, around the 800s' churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to poor.
  In England today…
  Few people have servants but the custom of giving gifts or money to those who provide service continues. It is also popular to visit grandparents and shop (the after Christmas discounts begin). Many people get the day off from work. Boxing Day is also celebrated in places where the English have settled like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Our friends in Scotland tell us it is also celebrate there! Some places observe Boxing Day on December 26th and some celebrate it on the first weekday following Christmas, so, if Christmas falls on Friday or Saturday Boxing Day would be on the following Monday.
  Now, the actual origin of this holiday is debatable and has been debated, one idea being more popular than the other at a given time.



  Halloween is an annual celebration. The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

  Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

  So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids.

  Halloween这个词本身来源于天主教. 111, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"),称为万圣节, 是用于举行仪式尊敬圣人的天主教日.其中有一种说法是, 在那一天, 那些先前死去的还在飘浮的灵魂会回来为来年的复生找一些活人来附体. 他们认为这是转世的唯一希望. 教徒们深信这段时间内所有的时间及空间都是被悬浮的, 以便于让灵魂世界与我们的生活空间相混合. 活着的人自然不想被附身,所以1030日的晚上, 村民会熄灭家中的火焰, 把家里弄得很冷,没人想来. 他们还会穿上各类象鬼一样的服装上街大声的**, 尽可能的搞些破坏来吓走那些想找人附体的鬼魂。因此, 尽管部分信徒可能已接受万圣节前夕为他们最喜爱的节日, 但这一天本身并不是来源于邪恶的惯例,而是由于凯尔特人庆祝新年和中世纪欧洲人的祈祷仪式. 今天, 甚至在很多教堂都会举行万圣节前夕晚会或让孩子们雕刻南瓜灯笼,到各家敲门玩TRICK OR TREAT的游戏。

  April Fool's Day愚人节

  Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.
  The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1.
  However, in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.



  There are three types of holidays in the United States: political holidays, traditional holidays, and religious holidays. There are more political holidays than any other type. The most important political holiday is Independence Day, the fourth of July. On this day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. Most people spend the day with their family and friends. Picnics and barbecues are very popular. In addition, almost every city and town has a fireworks display at night. Another very important political holiday is Memorial Day, which falls on the last weekend in May. On this holiday we commemorate all the soldiers who died for our country. Many towns and cities have parades, and some people go to cemeteries and put flowers or flags on the soldiers’ graves. A third important political holiday is Labor Day, which we celebrate on the first Monday in September. This is the day when we honor the workers of the United States. People watch parades, go on picnics, or go to the beach. For students, Labor Day is a bittersweet holiday, because when it is over they must begin school again. Besides these three political holidays, we also must begin school again. Besides these three political holidays, we also celebrate Presidents’ Day on the third Monday in February. On this day we commemorate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.


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