Here you can find some exercises that help you strengthen newly gained knowledge related to the topic ‘Customs and Traditions.’ The first part of this section consists of exercises mainly focused on the key vocabulary. The second part contains challenging tasks that include vocabulary, grammar, language in use, and reading comprehension.
Remember you can read the topic or watch the video at any time.
Break a leg!
In the course of the year, we have many opportunities for celebrations. We celebrate the birthday, name day, wedding, the christening of one of our relatives, graduation, and many other events.
On this occasion, we toast to the honored person who receives some presents, e.g., flowers, a box of chocolate, a book, a watch, or a ring.
On 1st January, people worldwide celebrate New Year’s Day together with New Year’s Eve on 31st December. There are huge crowds of cheerful people in the squares and streets, loud music, a lot of champagne and food. People go to parties and balls, watch big fireworks, and welcome the upcoming new year. At midnight, people wish each other a Happy New Year. People make New Year’s resolutions and promise to change or improve their lives.
THREE KING’S DAY (EPIPHANY)
On 6th January, 12 days after Christmas, we commemorate Three King‘s Day.
On 14th February, it is Valentine’s Day. It’s the day of all lovers and friends. We send Valentine postcards or messages to each other, buy some sweets and chocolate in
the shape of a heart. The lovers write some short poems such as:
„I’ll be your sweetheart, and I’ll be your Valentine“ or “ Roses are red violets are blue, you are my Valentine, I love you.”
SAINT PATRICK‘S DAY
St. Patrick’s Day is on 17th March. It is the most significant Irish holiday also spread into the USA. This holiday is named after Saint Patrick – the Irish Patron who brought Christianity to Ireland. People are dressed in green, drink Guinness, and have fun. There are colorful parades in towns and cities in Ireland and the USA.
ALL FOOLS‘ DAY
On 1st April, it is All Fools‘ Day. On this day, people make some jokes and play a trick on their friends.
We celebrate Easter at the end of March or at the very beginning of April. It is the biggest Christian holiday of the year, and it lasts several days. We start this holiday with:
On that day, boys chase the girls, pour cold water on them, and whip them with willow whips. It is said that girls will be healthy and strong all year-round.
Easter symbols are symbols of new life: a lamb, yellow chicken, Easter eggs, catkins, Easter bunnies.
On the table, we can see various kinds of smoked cheese, ham, and potato salad.
Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May.
On this day, all mothers are honoured. It is a special day to say, ‘I love you, mom.’ We buy them a bunch of flowers, a bar of chocolate or a small present.
Independence Day is on 4th July, celebrated in the USA. On this day, all Americans commemorate the Declaration of Independence from 1776. The declaration was adopted by thirteen American colonies that gained independence from the British. It is a day of fireworks, parties, and people dress in national colours, decorated with national flags.
Halloween is on 31st October. People decorate their houses in the scariest ways with spider webs, coffins, bats, witches, ghosts, candles, goblins, skeletons, and of course, carved pumpkins.
Its origin goes back to the Celts, who believed that the spirits of the dead would come to their houses and take over their bodies on that day. Therefore, they disguised themselves with animal heads and skins to cheat or confuse them.
Nowadays, children go from house to house, knocking on doors saying ‘Trick-or-treat.’ which means if you don´t give them a treat, they will play a trick on you.
People are dressed up in fancy dress costumes and go to parties to have fun.
ALL SAINTS‘ DAY
All Saints‘ Day is on 1st November, and All Souls’ Day is on 2nd November. This holiday is more or less connected with going to cemeteries/ graveyards, decorating graves with beautiful flowers, people light candles and pray for their beloved people who rest in peace = RIP.
Thanksgiving Day is on the last Thursday in November. It is the oldest American holiday. It was first celebrated in the 17th century after the first successful harvest, which helped people to survive the winter. The settlers celebrated their harvest and thanked God for his bounty. Now it is the day when whole families gather and enjoy themselves and good food. There is a stuffed turkey on every table.
SAINT NICHOLAS DAY
Saint Nicholas / Santa Claus Day is on 6th December. On this day, Saint Nicholas, an Angel, and a Devil come to the children. Children have to sing a song, say a poem, or pray. Good children get fruits and sweets, and naughty children get coal and potatoes.
Everyone looks forward to the most beautiful Christian holiday of the year, the holiday of calm and peace. During this holiday, we celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. It is the time for our family and friends, the time of exchanging some gifts.
Symbols of Christmas
In Slovakia, Christmas preparations are connected with cleaning households, baking gingerbread and other pastries, decorating houses with lights, and visiting Christmas markets.
On 24th December – Christmas Eve, we put up a real or an artificial Christmas tree, sing or listen to Christmas carols, and prepare Christmas Eve´s dinner. The Christmas menu in Slovakia varies from region to region, but generally, it consists of:
Christmas toast, wafers with honey, sauerkraut soup, fried carp and potato salad and homemade cakes. When we finish dinner, we go to the Christmas tree and unwrap the Christmas presents. At midnight we go to Midnight Mass at the nearest church.
On 25 th December, it is Christmas Day.
On 26 th December, Boxing day, on this day, relatives visit each other. In the past, servants and salespeople got presents, usually money, from the gentry. These presents became known as Christmas boxes (servants and salespeople carried boxes in the streets to get tips).
Traditions that our family follows at Christmas
We decorate our Christmas tree in the morning on December 24th and listen to Christmas carols. Before Christmas dinner, we pray together. At the very beginning of dinner, we eat Christmas wafers with honey. Our typical Christmas dinner consists of sauerkraut soup and fried carp with potato salad. When we finish dinner, our father rings the bell to tell us that our presents are already under the Christmas tree. After that, we go carolling to our relatives’ houses, and at midnight, we go to our local church for Midnight Mass.
IMPORTANT FAMILY CELEBRATIONS AND MEETINGS
At a wedding, two people who are getting married are the bride and the groom. The bride has the bridesmaids and the groom his best man. A few days before the wedding ceremony, the husband-to-be gives a party for his male friends. It is called a stag party /a stag night. The wife-to-be gives a party for her female friends, and it is called a hen party/a hen night. A wedding ceremony is a formal act that can be religious – in a church. It is a church wedding / white wedding with a priest. It can also be a civil wedding – in the town hall at a registry office with the mayor. The engaged couple exchanges their wedding rings and promise to live together in good and bad times. After the wedding, friends and relatives are invited to a wedding reception with a layered wedding cake. Then the newlyweds go on a honeymoon.
Sometimes families meet at a very sad occasion. When someone dies, the body is put into a coffin. At the funeral, the body may be cremated or buried in a cemetery /graveyard. The grave is marked with a gravestone. The widow or the widower together with close relatives are mourning for their beloved who R.I.P.(Rest In Peace)
When Christmas comes to town…
A golden pig or a little piglet – one of the most frequent thoughts of the majority of the Slovaks on December 24.
The Tale of St. Valentine