SpeakEnglishPod.com Monday, December #030: HOW DO AMERICANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? Q&A MINI STORY

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1 #030: HOW DO AMERICANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS? Q&A MINI STORY Hi, everyone! I'm Georgiana, founder of SpeakEnglishPodcast.com. My mission is to help YOU to speak English fluently and confidently. In today's episode: I'll talk about how Americans celebrate Christmas and how I used to enjoy Christmas time when I was a kid. Later, you'll practice vocabulary, and above all, you'll improve your spoken English with a funny question and answer story. Awesome! Let's get started! Multi-Cultural Christmas In the United States, every 25th of December people celebrate Christmas in many unique ways because of its multi-cultural nature. The modern, commercialized Christmas began to emerge in the 19th century with the new custom of buying gifts for children. Many of the Christmas holiday activities differ from family to family. It often depends on the cultural heritage of the family members. Some of the customs are like ones in the UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and Mexico. Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 1

2 A typical celebration of Christmas Day in America combines Irish, Austrian, Polish and Belgian traditions. Despite the variety of cultures, most Americans agree that Christmas is a family time. For many families, Christmas is the one time of year when all family members, come together to eat, drink and spend a great time together. The Christmas Tree The Christmas trees tradition started in Germany in the 16th century. Protestant reformer Martin Luther first added lighted candles to a tree to remind his children of the wonders of God's creation. The Christmas tree plays a vital part in the holiday tradition. They became popular in the United States in the 19th century. Nowadays, many Americans buy a fresh evergreen tree or a plastic model and decorate it with lights and ornaments. Sometimes families collect ornaments from more than one generation. The Christmas trees are always decorated with lights and the more, the better. On the morning of December 25th, Christmas gifts appear under the tree. Legend tells that "Santa Claus lands his reindeer and sleigh on the roof and comes down the chimney. That's why American children often leave out some cookies and a glass of milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. Food: Food plays an essential part in the American Christmas. American families serve a variety of menus for Christmas dinner. A standard Christmas dinner usually includes turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, veggies, salad, and some dessert. Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 2

3 Religion: Christmas Day is now a mix of religious celebration and commercial interests. Several churches play a significant part in the American Christmas. Many families feel that it's crucial to go to church at Christmas. Traditionally, the midnight mass is the point of transition from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Many Americans, especially Christians go to Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Many churches have special Christmas Carol services and events where the Christmas story is told. Shopping Even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees and much more. That's why, Christmas shopping became vitally significant to some retailers. In fact, Christmas has expanded into a "Season" of its own. Department stores, shopping malls, and small shops prepare for the holiday season to attract customers. And Americans invest quite a few dollars on Christmas trees, presents, greeting cards and suchlike. On the Internet, the electronic cards "e-cards" are increasingly popular. But even so, Americans mail about 17 billion Christmas cards, letters, and packages over the holidays. Still, Christmas season is about far more than shopping. For many Americans, it's a period of general goodwill and an occasion for charitable and volunteer work. Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 3

4 Interesting Christmas Traditions in the US: Did you know that some Americans use popcorn threaded on a string to help decorate their Christmas Tree? Or that in New England, you can find some shops called "Christmas Shops." There they sell Christmas decorations and toys throughout the entire year! Possibly the most famous Christmas street lights in the United States are at the Rockefeller Center in New York. Every Christmas there's a huge Christmas Tree with a public ice skating rink in front of it. So, if you find yourself in New York at Christmas make sure you take a look. It's really impressive. I used to sing Christmas carols with my cousins When I was a kid, I loved the idea of receiving gifts for Christmas, just like any other kid. But what I cherished the most was spending time with my family. My cousins and I would spend all day singing Christmas carols and eating plenty of delicious food. The great thing about being a kid was that we never worried about our weight. How about you? Tell me how you celebrated Christmas when you were a kid? Join the Speak English Now Community and share with us how you enjoyed Christmas when you were a kid: Go to: Community.SpeakEnglishPod.com Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 4

5 Mini Story (Practice your Speaking) Now, let's move on to the next section. Here, I'll use the Question & Answer technique. This is the perfect lesson if you want to speak English automatically. Let's see how it works: I'll give you some information. (A phrase or two). I'll ask simple questions. After each question, there will be some seconds of silence: it's your turn to answer the question! Just try to give an easy and short answer, not a complex one. After you answer, I'll give you a correct answer. This process will continue, and little by little, I'll be telling a story using questions and answers. Let's get started! Last Christmas, shopping for Christmas gifts had become too exhausting for granny. Did shopping for Christmas become exhausting for granny? Yes. Shopping for Christmas became exhausting for granny last year. Was granny excited or exhausted? Exhausted. Granny wasn't excited. She was exhausted. Granny thought that shopping for gifts was exciting. Right? No. No. Granny didn't think that shopping for gifts was exciting. She thought it was exhausting. Who felt exhausted? Granny or mommy? Granny. Not Mommy. It was granny who felt exhausted. When did shopping become exhausting for granny? Yesterday? Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 5

6 Not yesterday. Last year. Shopping became exhausting for granny last year. So, she came up with an idea. She would send checks to everyone in the family instead of buying presents. What did granny do? Come up with an idea or buy presents? She came up with an idea. Granny didn't buy any presents. Would granny send checks to her family members? Yes. Her idea was to send checks to her family instead of buying gifts. What would granny do instead of shopping for Christmas gifts? She would send checks to everyone. Who would send checks? Dad? No. No. Not dad. Granny. She would send checks instead of buying presents. On each card, she wrote, "Buy your own Christmas present!" and mailed to her family members. Did granny write on each card "I wish you a Merry Christmas?" No. No. She didn't write "I wish you a Merry Christmas." Granny wrote, "Buy your own Christmas present!" Was it mom who mailed the Christmas cards? No. Not mom. Granny. She mailed the Christmas cards. What did granny write on each card? She wrote, "Buy your own Christmas present!" Who did granny mail? Her family members or her dogs? Her family members. Not her dogs. Her dogs can't read. J After the holidays, granny noticed she had received very few cards in return. When did granny notice that she received very few cards? Before or after the holidays? After the holidays. Granny noticed she received very few cards after the holidays. Not before. How many cards did granny receive in return? A few or a lot? A few. Not a lot. Granny received very few cards in return. Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 6

7 Did granny receive only a few presents? No. No. She received very few cards not presents. What did granny notice after the Christmas holidays? That she got robbed? No. Granny didn't notice that she got robbed. She noticed that she received very few cards in return. Puzzled, she went to her room and started to write her relatives to ask what had happened. Was granny certain or was she puzzled? Puzzled. Granny was puzzled. She was really confused. Not certain. Where did she go? To her room or the bar? To her room. She went to her room. Not to the bar!!" Did she write her friends or her relatives? Not her friends. Granny wrote her relatives. Why did granny start to write to her relatives? To ask what had happened. She wanted to know what had happened. But as she cleared off her cluttered desk she became aware of something terrible. Did granny clear off her cluttered desk or did she add more things on the desk? Granny didn't add more things on the desk. She cleared her cluttered desk. Was the desk cluttered or clean? Not clean. It was cluttered. The desk was cluttered. Did she become aware of something wonderful or terrible? Not wonderful. She became aware of something terrible. Who became aware of something terrible? Granny. She became aware of something terrible. It turned out that granny forgot to include the checks with the Christmas cards. What a disaster! Did she forget or did she remember to include the checks? Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 7

8 She forgot. Granny forgot to include the checks. What did granny forget to include together with the Christmas cards? Money or checks? Checks. Not money. Granny forgot to include the checks. Who forgot to include the checks? Grandpa? Not grandpa. Granny. She forgot to include the checks. What a funny story! Last year granny wanted to try something new at Christmas. She decided to send checks instead of Christmas gifts. However, after the holidays she realized that she forgot to include the checks. So, she immediately sent new Christmas cards and this time she made sure to enclose the checks. Ok! Awesome! It's the end of this short lesson. Can you see how many questions you can answer? It's like talking to another person in English. Now imagine a whole story told this way. It's incredible how much you can learn using this method. Go to Courses.SpeakEnglishPodcast.com and continue practicing your spoken English with stories. Before finishing this episode, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas Happy New Year! Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 8

9 I'll be back soon with new exciting episodes and a brand new English Course! Take care! Bye! Bye! Georgiana, Founder of Get more lessons at: SpeakEnglishPod.com 9

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