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USA history, customs and traditions.

Many peoples have contributed to the development of the United States of America, a vast nation that arose from scattering British colonial outposts in the New World.

The first humans to inhabit the North American continent were migrants from northeast Asia who established settlements in North America as early as 8000 BC and possibly much earlier. Vikings explored the North American mainland in the 10th and 11th centuries and settled there briefly. Of more lasting importance, however, was the first voyage (1492-93) of Christopher Columbus, which started the age of great European exploration of the Western Hemisphere.

Various European states (Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, Portugal included) and their trading companies sent out expeditions to explore the New World during the century and a half that followed. At the beginning of the 17th century European colonies were founded on the territory of the modern USA. In 1620 first colonist landed at Plymouth Rock. They came from England on board the “Mayflower”. Most of them were puritans or former Anglicans who were called pilgrims.

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared the united colonies to be independent of Great Britain. The new state was called the United Sates of America and July 4 became its national holiday. George Washington was elected the first president of the new republic.

Every nation has different customs and traditions, its own way of life. Americans like to move away, to change homes and jobs. They prefer sociability. A national Thanksgiving Day is perhaps the only holiday spent by the Americans at home. Table decorations follow a traditional pattern – a harvest of Indian corn, apples, oranges, walnuts and grapes. The centrepiece is the traditional roast turkey.

Still another American tradition concerns Halloween. Its origin dates back hundreds of years to the Druid festival. The Druid New Year began on November 1, marking the beginning of winter and the reign of the Lord of Death. The custom of telling ghost stories on Halloween comes from the Druids. On this occasion children usually wear ghost costumes or false faces. They also carve out r eyes in pumpkins and put burning candles inside them to make them visible from far away.

US holidays

The population of the United States is made up of people of very many nationalities. Their predecessors came to America from different countries, and they brought their native celebrations with them. They all became Americans, but they kept many traditions of those countries they had come from. That is why the number of holidays in different states of America is different. But the most important holidays are marked throughout the United States.

One of the greatest holidays is Independence Day. It was on July 4, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was signed, proclaiming independence of thirteen British colonies from Great Britain. July 4 has become the greatest holiday since. Cities and towns are decorated with flags on that day, there are parades in some places, but most people just go on picnics to the countryside.

Another great holiday is New Year Day. People see the old year off and the New Year in. Most people stay up all night, even children. At midnight they go outside and shout "Happy New Year!" Some people set off fireworks and blow automobile horns which are heard everywhere. Everybody exchanges presents and good wishes. Offices, factories, banks and stores do not work on this day.

Christmas is a religious holiday which symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ. By this day people set fur trees in their houses and decorate them with toys and candies. Children wait for Santa Claus who comes to every house. Before going to bed, they leave their shoes to find presents in them next morning. Christmas is considered to be a family holiday, so most people prefer to celebrate it at home with their relatives.

Thanksgiving Day is kind of a religious holiday too. It falls on the fourth Thursday in November. On this day people thank God for his goodness; besides, the day marks the end of the harvest season on farms. There is a long-standing tradition to fry a large turkey for a festive meal on this day. Thanksgiving has been celebrated since the first harvest festival in America in the autumn of 1621.

St' Valentine's Day, February 14th, is sweethearts' day when people, who are in love, express their affection for each other in merry ways. The cards may be different but the message is the same: "Will you be my Valentine?"

Halloween means ""holly evening". It is celebrated on the 31st of October and is connected with witches and ghosts. At parties people dress up in strange costumes and pretend to be witches. They cut horrible faces in potatoes and pumpkins and put candles inside to shine through the eyes. People may play different games such as trying to eat an apple from a bucket of water without using their hands. Children dressed in white sheets knock on doors at Halloween and ask if you like trick or treat. If you give them something nice - a treat - they go away. But if you don't they play a trick on you, such as making a lot of noise or piling floor on your front doorstep.


Date: 2015-02-03; view: 2514

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