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Celebrating American Holidays at English Club November 26, 2012

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.
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Two very special American holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving, are celebrated in Autumn.  At our English Clubs, we talked about and celebrated these interesting holidays.  The children had a lot of fun, and learned new words and information about American culture.

The first holiday is Halloween, always celebrated on the last day of October.  This holiday has religious origins and was first known as All Hallows Eve.  It is no longer religious, instead a holiday of fun and parties, celebrated by children and adults.  It is a day to dress up in costumes, either scary or funny, to have parties, parades, and Trick or Treating.  Creative children and adults make their own costumes, hoping to have the most unusual, the most beautiful, or the most frightening costume.  Some adults even wear their costumes to work, to make the day fun for their co-workers and customers.  Some schools allow children to wear costumes, and some do not, thinking that the children will take their work more seriously without a costume.  Teachers will tell you that this does not matter.  On Halloween, all children are too excited to focus on school work.  Instead they are thinking about the activities of the evening.

In America, Daylight Savings Time ends the Sunday before Halloween, so it will get dark early on Halloween evening, allowing the little ghosts and goblins to start Trick or Treating around 16:30.  Groups of children, accompanied by some parents, begin to run around their neighborhoods, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells.  When the door is answered, they yell “Trick or Treat.”  The wise neighbor provides the candy treat that the children are requesting, to avoid being the subject of a trick.  Typical tricks include rubbing a bar of soap on windows or decorating trees with toilet paper.

Here at the Library, we talked about these customs at English Club and then had a traditional Halloween party on Sunday, October 28, 2012.  A large group of children came to the party, dressed in wonderful, creative costumes.  We enjoyed games and contests, a guitar concert by Darrell Francis, and of course, gave out candy and treats.  The party was a big success.  Even the parents joined in the games and they had fun, too.

November 22, 2012 was American Thanksgiving this year.  It is always the 4th Thursday of November.  We talked about this holiday in all of the English Clubs.  We discussed the origin of this holiday, a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Native American Indians after the first successful harvest in the New World.  While it has changed in some ways over the years, it is still a holiday to give thanks for everything that is important to us.  It is the day when almost all Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate everything good that has happened in the previous year and to appreciate each other.  Schools and businesses, even stores and supermarkets, are closed so everyone can be with their family.  There is a large meal or feast, with a Turkey as the centerpiece.  The meal also includes mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, many fall vegetables, breads and many desserts.   Apple and pumpkin pies are always on the dessert table.

We watched a video of an American tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This parade includes marching bands, floats, and huge balloon figures of popular children’s characters like Snoopy, Shrek, and Buzz Lightyear.  These balloons are as tall as 3-4 story buildings. Large groups of people are holding ropes that are attached to the balloons to keep the balloons from flying away.  The parade takes place in New York City and it is televised all over the country so everyone can see it.  It takes all year to plan the parade for next year, and the route has to be carefully prepared so that signs and wires that would be in the way of the balloons are removed.

I think the children had a lot of fun learning about these holidays. I really enjoyed it as well.  It is very interesting to see these holidays that I have celebrated all of my life through the eyes of the kids at the library.  It makes me think about our American traditions and how important these holidays are to me and to my family.