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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #886: Xmas
    > Other English exercises on the same topic: Celebrations: Thanksgiving, new year... [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Saint Valentine's Day - Christmas party -Vocabulary - Merry Christmas! - New Year - Wishing a happy birthday - Carnival-Vocabulary - Halloween - Halloween
    > Double-click on words you don't understand


    Xmas




    More about Christmas





    People have been buying gifts to give to family members and friends. They have been filling homes and stores with evergreen trees and bright, colored lights. They have been going to parties and preparing special Christmas foods. Many people think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Johnny Mathis thinks so, too.

    (MUSIC)
    Johnny Mathis - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

    It's the most wonderful time of the year
    With the kids jingle belling
    And everyone telling you 'Be of good cheer'
    It's the most wonderful time of the year
    It's the hap-happiest season of all
    With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
    When friends come to call
    It's the hap-happiest season of all


    There'll be parties for hosting
    Marshmallows for toasting
    And caroling out in the snow
    There'll be scary ghost stories
    And tales of the glories of
    Christmases long, long ago

    It's the most wonderful time of the year
    There'll be much mistltoeing
    And hearts will be glowing
    When love ones are near
    It's the most wonderful time of the year

    There'll be parties for hosting

    Marshmallows for toasting
    And caroling out in the snow
    There'll be scary ghost stories
    And tales of the glories of
    Christmases long, long ago

    Many Christians will go to church the night before the holiday or on Christmas Day. They will celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christian ministers will speak about the need for peace and understanding in the world. This is the spiritual message of Christmas. Church services will include traditional religious songs for the holiday.



    One of the most popular is this one, 'Silent Night.' Here it is sung by Joan Baez.

    (MUSIC)
    Silent night, holy night
    All is calm, all is bright
    Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
    Holy Infant so tender and mild
    Sleep in heavenly peace
    Sleep in heavenly peace


    Silent night, holy night!
    Shepherds quake at the sight
    Glories stream from heaven afar
    Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
    Christ, the Saviour is born
    Christ, the Saviour is born


    Silent night, holy night

    Son of God, love's pure light

    Radiant beams from Thy holy face

    With the dawn of redeeming grace

    Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

    Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth '



    Many other Americans will celebrate Christmas as an important, but non-religious, holiday. To all, however, it is a special day of family, food, and exchanging gifts.

    Christmas is probably the most special day of the year for children. One thing that makes it special is the popular tradition of Santa Claus.

    Young children believe that Santa Claus is a fat, kind, old man in a red suit with white fur. They believe that -- on the night before Christmas --he travels through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. He enters each house from the top by sliding down the hole in the fireplace. He leaves gifts for the children under the Christmas tree. Here, Bruce Springsteen sings about Santa Claus.

    You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry
    You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town


    He's making a list, he's checkin' it twice
    He's gonna find out whose daughter you're nice
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town


    He sees you when you're sleeping
    He knows if you're awake
    He knows if you've been bad or good
    (so you'd) better be good for goodness sake
    Better be good for goodness sake

    You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry
    You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town


    He sees you when you're sleeping
    He knows if you're awake
    He knows if you've been bad or good
    (so you'd) better be good for goodness sake
    Better be good for goodness sake


    You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry
    You'd better not pout, I'm telling you why
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    Santa Claus is coming to town


    VOICE TWO:

    Americans spend a lot of time and money buying Christmas presents. The average American family spends about eight-hundred dollars. Stores and shopping centers are crowded at this time of year. More than twenty percent of all goods sold during the year are sold during the weeks before Christmas. This is good for stores and for the American economy.

    VOICE ONE:

    Some people object to all this spending. They say it is not the real meaning of Christmas. So, they celebrate in other ways. For example, they make Christmas presents, instead of buying them. Or they volunteer to help serve meals to people who have no homes. Or they give money to organizations that help poor people in the United States and around the world.

    VOICE TWO:

    Home and family are the center of the Christmas holiday. For many people, the most enjoyable tradition is buying a Christmas tree and decorating it with lights and beautiful objects. On Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, people gather around the tree to open their presents.

    Another important Christmas tradition involves food. Families prepare many kinds of holiday foods, especially sweets. They eat these foods on the night before Christmas and on Christmas day.

    For many people, Christmas means traveling long distances to be with their families. Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack sing about this holiday tradition.

    (MUSIC)

    I'll be home for Christmas
    You can count on me
    Please have some snow and mistletoe
    And presents by the tree


    Christmas eve will find me
    Where the love light gleams
    Oh, I'll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams

    I'll be comin' home
    I'll be comin' home
    Comin' home

    My darling, Christmas eve will find me
    Right where the love light gleams
    And I'll be home for Christmas
    If only in my dreams


    I'm comin' home, oh yes
    I'll be comin' home
    I'll be comin' home
    I'll be comin' home


    VOICE ONE:

    Another Christmas tradition is to go 'caroling.' A group of people walks along the street. At each house, they stop and sing a Christmas song, called a carol. Student groups also sing carols at schools and shopping centers. Let us listen to the choir of Trinity Church in Boston sing 'Carol of the Bells.'

    (MUSIC)
    Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells
    All seem to say, throw cares away.
    Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
    To young and old, meek and the bold
    Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song,
    With joyful ring, all caroling
    One seems to hear words of good cheer
    From everywhere, filling the air
    O, how they pound, raising the sound
    O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

    Gaily they ring, while people sing
    Songs of good cheer, christmas is here!
    Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!
    Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!


    On, on they send, on without end
    Their joyful tone to every home
    Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells
    All seem to say, throw cares away.
    Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
    To young and old, meek and the bold
    Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song
    With joyful ring, all caroling.
    One seems to hear words of good cheer
    From everywhere, filling the air
    O, how they pound, raising the sound
    O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

    Gaily they ring, while people sing
    Songs of good cheer, christmas is here!
    Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!
    Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!

    On, on they send, on without end
    Their joyful tone to every home.
    Ding dong ding dong


    VOICE TWO:

    Not everyone in the United States celebrates Christmas. Members of the Jewish and Muslim religions, for example, generally do not. Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah (erratum: rosh hachana). And some black Americans observe another holiday, Kwanzaa. Yet many Americans do take part in some of the traditional performances of the season. One of the most popular is a story told in dance: 'The Nutcracker' ballet. The music was written by Russian composer Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky in Eighteen-Ninety One.

    VOICE ONE:

    The ballet is about a young girl named Clara. Clara is celebrating Christmas with her family and friends. One of her Christmas presents is a little device to open nuts -- a nutcracker. It is shaped like a toy soldier. She dreams that the nutcracker comes to life as a good-looking prince.

    Professional dance groups in many American cities perform the ballet at this time of year. They often use students from local ballet schools to dance the part of Clara and the other children in the story. This gives parents a chance to see their children perform.

    VOICE TWO:

    We leave you with 'The Waltz of the Flowers' from 'The Nutcracker.' It is played by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Eugene Ormandy.

    (MUSIC)

    Today's program was written by Shelley Gollust, Lawan Davis, Shirley Griffith and Ray Freeman (voanews).



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    1. Why do Christians celebrate Christmas?

    2. What is a 'gift'?

    3. How much do Americans spend for Christmas presents?

    4. When is Christmas Eve?

    5. If you go 'caroling', what do you do?









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