Saturday, 22 December 2012

CHRISTMAS WORDSEARCH





B S Z S S X P E E V E N D Y V
S S E W H R E O F L D O S Y E
E L O I E O T K B N H I T E Y
L N E S R E P U A E E T O N W
S E E I L R A P T C O A C M R
Y N Z T G B E J I T M R K I G
T A S W H H S B C N H O I H H
G I I F G R R P N G G C N C O
M R E I N D E E R A G E G R L
G N I D D U P K N T R D O E L
E E R T O J V G C D T C A T Y
Y N A C K R E Q E A K L N I Q
M F T A H L M K T U R K E Y W
U H S O Y F N P C C S C M Z E
W K O N Q Y S A L Q L Z O Q Q

ANGEL
BAUBLE
CAKE
CHIMNEY
CRACKER
CRANBERRIES
DECORATION
EVE
HOLLY
MISTLETOE
PRESENT
PUDDING
REINDEER
SHOPPING
SLEIGH
SNOW
STAR
STOCKING
TREE
TURKEY


MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Thursday, 13 December 2012

SOME CHRISTMAS VOCABULARY

Here are some Christmas words:


angel



bauble



bells



candles



candy canes



Christmas cake

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Christmas crackers



Christmas presents



Christmas pudding

Image: Wikipedia


Christmas shopping



Christmas tree



Father Christmas / Santa Claus



holly



kissing under the mistletoe







mistletoe



reindeer



singing Christmas carols



sleigh



snowy chimney



star




THE PRESENT PERFECT FOR GIVING NEWS


THE PRESENT PERFECT FOR GIVING NEWS

We often use the present perfect to give the first news of something:

Mary has arrived in Italy.

The Queen has appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

We sometimes continue in the past simple to give more details:

Mary has arrived in Italy.  She emailed me this morning.

The Queen has appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.  She waved to the crowd.

We do not normally use the present perfect with a specific time reference but it is possible if the period of time is not finished:

It rained heavily in several areas of Britain this morning. [It is not morning now and the person is speaking in the afternoon or evening.]

It has rained heavily in several areas of Britain this morning. [It is still morning and it is possible that it will rain again during the morning.]

Choose the correct verb forms in the following sentences:

1.  The Prime Minister and the President had / have had a meeting. They have decided / decided to hold an election.

2.  The Prime Minister and the President had / have had a meeting yesterday.

3.  John Taylor, the MP* for Milltown, died / has died.

4.  John Taylor, the MP for Milltown, died / has died on Saturday.

5.  [You are listening to the news at 7 pm.] It has snowed / snowed in Scotland this evening and several roads are blocked.

6.  It has snowed / snowed in Scotland last night and several roads were blocked.

7.  Wales won / has won the rugby match and the score was / has been 23 - 0.

8.  England lost / has lost the rugby match last week. 

9.  The Queen has opened / opened the new hospital.  A child presented / has presented her with a bouquet.

10. The Queen has opened / opened the new hospital on Tuesday afternoon. A child presented / has presented her with a bouquet.

*MP = Member of Parliament

Highlight the space below to see the answers:

1. have had; decided  2. had  3. has died  4. died  5. has snowed  6. snowed  7. has won; was  8. lost
9. has opened; presented  10. opened; presented.







Friday, 7 December 2012

READING - THE LEGENDS OF THE POINSETTIA

Image: Wikimedia Commons




The poinsettia plant is as much a symbol of Christmas in Italy as the presepe [crib] that is found in almost every home. With their bright red colour and leaves in the form of star points, the plants are loved, carefully tended and are often kept from one year to the next. In Italy they are known as Stelle di Natale [Christmas stars] a name which the Italians adopted from Spanish missionaries in Mexico, where the plant originated. A group of Spanish Franciscan monks working in Mexico used the plants in a Christmas procession for the first time in the seventeenth century and after that the Mexicans started using them in Nativity scenes. It was Joel Robert Poinsett, US Ambassador to Mexico from 1825 – 1829, who gave the plant its English name and took it to the United States. At Christmas 1899 poinsettia plants were placed in St Peter’s Basilica, drawing admiration from all who saw them.

Now Coldiretti, the Italian farming union, has issued some advice for the care of the 20 million “Christmas stars” that Italians are expected to buy this Christmas: The plants should be kept in light, well-heated rooms and in winter can withstand direct sunlight. It is important to water them only when the soil surrounding them is completely dry. Coldiretti also urges consumers to buy plants grown in Italy, thus ensuring quality and helping the agricultural sector. The capital of the poinsettia in Italy is without doubt the Versilia [Tuscan Riviera] and in particular the town of 
Viareggio, where it is estimated that 5 million plants will be produced for sale this year. Small plants should cost around 2.50 euros, larger ones up to 30 euros and the largest around 70 – 80 euros.

There are two legends about the poinsettia that you may like to know about. Neither is Italian but – hey- it’s Christmas! The first and most famous concerns a little Mexican girl called Pepita or, in some versions, Lola, or maybe a boy called Pablo. Pepita, on her way to see the annual Nativity scene in her village, suddenly realised she had no offering to take with her that would show her love for the Baby Jesus and she started to cry. At that point, an angel spoke to her and advised her to gather some greens from the roadside, for Jesus would know that they were given with love. Pepita did so but the other children laughed at her gift. Then, all of a sudden, the greens turned into a beautiful, red poinsettia plant.

The other legend is more universal: When God created Nature, he asked all the flowers to give to the humans who chose and tended them the very best of themselves – beauty, love, harmony and wisdom. But there was one plant that nobody wanted, although it tried hard to be chosen, for it had tiny flowers and its leaves were too big. The plant became very sad and in December God saw this. He said, “I know you want to give men beauty, love, harmony and wisdom and, as men need these things, I am going to help you. I will give you my blood and put it on your leaves, which will turn deep red and make you the most beautiful flower on earth in this most important season for man.” And so the plant with the tiny flowers and big leaves became the lovely stella di Natale and ever since, it has brought men beauty, love, harmony and wisdom.

Take care of your “Christmas stars” this year.

EXERCISE - VOCABULARY

Find words in the text that have a similar meaning to the ones below:

1.  cared for 
2.  came from
3.  attracting
4.  tolerate
5.  an unverified, traditional story
6.  yearly
7.  very small
8.  good judgement  

Highlight the space below to see the answers:

1. tended  2. originated  3. drawing  4. withstand  5. legend  6. annual  7. tiny  8. wisdom

The above article by Pat first appeared in Italy Magazine UK in 2009.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

STIR-UP SUNDAY

Today is Stir-Up Sunday in the UK.  This day falls on the last Sunday before Advent and the name comes from some words in a prayer which is read on that day.  In the prayer, people ask God to "stir up" or encourage them to do good things.  As "stir" also means "mix", people began to associate this Sunday with the task of making Christmas pudding as it has to be stirred a lot and should be made several weeks before Christmas.

Traditionally, every person in the family stirs the pudding and makes a wish while they do so but these days, most people buy their Christmas puddings.

Image: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia

Thursday, 22 November 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.  It is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November there and on the second Monday in October in Canada. 

Families gather together to give thanks for what they have and they traditionally eat roast turkey with cranberry sauce, yams and pumpkin pie.

The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The pilgrims who had arrived in America from England on the Mayflower ship wanted to give thanks for their successful crops and they invited the Wampanoag Native Americans, who had helped them with their harvest, to the feast. The Wampanoag brought their large families to the feast but they brought extra food as well!

The President of the United States traditionally "pardons" one lucky turkey at Thanksgiving: the turkey is allowed to live and is flown to Frontierland in Disneyland, where it spends the rest of its life.

THANKSGIVING WORDSEARCH





M O R C G H Y G F P R C T P J
X A O E P L Y M O U T H H I H
Y Q S V W U Y P E H P A A E M
Y E E S Y O U A S T Q E N Y V
Z I K K A M L M M T E H K R M
S T G R P C I F S U C A S R N
B E H K U R H A Y O S R G E O
N T I U G T O U R A K V I B D
F N O L R R F N S J M E V N R
X B I J J S U E B E N S I A A
I P R V L C D G A W T T N R P
I W C R O P S A K S K T G C A
Z L F P Y K A O Y D T L S F B
M B I Y A D I L O H Q C R R K
I A P I P O G A O N A P M A W


CORNUCOPIA
CRANBERRY
CROPS
FEAST
HARVEST
HOLIDAY
MASSACHUSETTS
MAYFLOWER
PARDON
PIE
PILGRIMS
PLYMOUTH
PUMPKIN
ROAST
THANKSGIVING
THURSDAY
TURKEY
WAMPANOAG




HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL OUR AMERICAN FRIENDS!





Sunday, 11 November 2012

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY

At 11 am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, the guns fell silent along the Western Front and World War 1 ended.  Therefore this day is called "Armistice Day" or "Remembrance Day" in Britain, France, Commonwealth countries and other allied nations.  




In Britain people wear poppies on their lapels as so many soldiers died in the poppy fields of Flanders [Belgium] during World War 1.  This year the 11th November falls on a Sunday but when it does not,  ceremonies of remembrance for soldiers who lost their lives in all wars are held on the nearest Sunday to this date. At 11 am the country observes a two-minute silence.

A Royal British Legion poppy
Image: Wikipedia


On Remembrance Sunday the Queen lays a wreath of poppies on behalf of the nation at the Cenotaph [war memorial] in Whitehall, London.  The Duke of Edinburgh, other members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and other politicians also lay wreaths, as do the High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries. Afterwards there is a march past of war veterans' associations and the associations which help soldiers' families.  The event is organised by the Royal British Legion.

The money raised by the sale of paper poppies is used to help soldiers who have been injured and the families of those who have died.

The Queen leads the tributes at the 2011 Ceremony of Remembrance

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

ELECTION DAY WORDSEARCH







E B F L R P G G Y E O C S T U
J T P Z A Q O V T A O T W I U
T P A R X K H A G N A F I X D
Z G T B H S D G S T N O N E E
T Y W S E I H T E Z Q V G A M
W N B J D D I S E F Q Y U S O
E Q E N W T R G R F M O T E C
N L A D U N A C I L B U P E R
F C E E I C A M P A I G N E A
I I N C T S H O U S E L T G T
N C R A T O E Y D A L I F L L
Y Q V S L I V R A O H L A K U
B U V R T E O Y P W F F U O S
B T Z R E Q D N T O L L A B E
Z B Q H N N D K M W T B G T R



BALLOT
CAMPAIGN
CANDIDATE
CONSTITUENCY
DEBATE
DEMOCRAT
ELECTION
EXIT
FIRST
HOUSE
LADY
PARTY
POLL
PRESIDENT
REPUBLICAN
RESULT
STATES
SWING
VOTE
WHITE

Monday, 5 November 2012

REMEMBER, REMEMBER.....


Guy Fawkes



The 5th November is not a holiday in the UK but it is the day of an important celebration known as Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night.

In 1605 a man called Guy Fawkes and other conspirators tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament by placing gunpowder in the cellars. The plot was discovered in time and Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators were tried and put to death.

On Bonfire Night we light bonfires and we have fireworks. We make an effigy of Guy Fawkes and put it on the top of our bonfire to be burned. In the past, in the days leading up to Bonfire Night, children used to display their guy [effigy] in the street and ask people for “a penny for the guy.” This tradition is not practised much now, as people think it is begging and they don’t want the children to try to buy fireworks with the money. [In the UK you are not allowed to buy fireworks if you are under 18.]

It is very cold in the UK in November so when we go outside to watch the fireworks and the bonfires we wrap up warmly and we eat hot food like jacket potatoes, sausages, pumpkin soup,
 toffee apples and a cake called ginger parkin.

To this day, the Yeomen of the Guard or Beefeaters [soldiers who form the Queen's bodyguard] search the cellars of the Houses of Parliament before the State Opening of Parliament every year in November.

All children learn this rhyme:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot,
I see no reason
why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.


Vocabulary
blow up = destroy by explosion
gunpowder = powder which can cause an explosion
cellar = storage space under a building
plot = conspiracy
tried = to have your case heard in a court of law
put to death = executed
bonfire = a big, outdoor fire
days leading up to = the days before
beg = to ask for money in the street
wrap up warmly = to wear warm clothing
search = to try to find something
treason = a plot against the king or queen


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

SEASONAL QUIZ



Put the first letters of the answers together to form a seasonal word!

1.  An old word for "saint".

2.  The season we are in now.

3.  - - - - - - fall during this season.

4.  A carved pumpkin is called a jack-o'-   - - - - - - - .

5.  The tenth month.

6.  She rides on a broomstick.

7.  A ghostly, frightening atmosphere can be described as - - - - - .

8.  All Hallows' - - - is the day before All Saints' Day.

9.  - - - - , which are a combination of fruit and seed, are associated with this time of year.



Highlight the space below to see the answers:

1. hallow  2. autumn  3. leaves  4. lantern  5. October  6. witch  7. eerie  8. Eve  9. nuts
The word is HALLOWEEN!

Images for this post are from WP Clipart

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

LEAF IDIOMS

It's autumn and for many of us, that means that the leaves are falling.  Can you match up the leaf idioms 1 - 5 with their meanings a - e?  You'll find the answers at the end of the quiz:



1.  to turn over a new leaf

2.  to leaf through something

3.  to use as a fig leaf

4.  to take a leaf out of someone's book

5.  to shake like a leaf



a.  to copy someone else's behaviour, usually because the person sets a good example

b.  to turn over the pages of a publication quickly, without really paying attention to the content

c.  to tremble with fear

d.  to use a situation to hide an embarrassing fact or problem

e.  to begin again, changing one's behaviour in a good way


Finally, in Cockney Rhyming Slang  what is a  tea leaf ?   grief / beef / a thief?

To see the answers, please highlight the space below: 

1e, 2b, 3d, 4a, 5c.  In Cockney Rhyming slang, a "tea leaf" is a thief.

Images for this post are from WP Clipart.

Eric Clapton - Autumn Leaves


Monday, 22 October 2012

AUTUMN WORDSEARCH


R E B M E T P E S M L X H T T
R V B N D E R H E E E A F H U
O E D O B Q A L R Y L K A A N
S L B S N R L R J L P H L N T
Z T G M V F I M O P P S L K S
S N N E E U I W L U A Q R S E
P L S I Q V E R S M T R M G H
L T L S A E O T E P S Z O I C
S Z U A N S H N F K S B P V I
W O L L E Y R L G I Q Y G I T
B R O W N O F O E N Q X S N W
Q M M H C C L U S A P Q K G O
X C Y A L D Z Y H S F M T I V
X P T O C T O B E R Q K L I Z
 J Y F O N E N W C E J R P B Z 


ACORN


ALL*
APPLE
BONFIRE


BROWN
CHESTNUT


FALL**
GOLD
HALLOWEEN
HARVEST***
LEAF
NOVEMBER
OCTOBER
PUMPKIN


RED
SAINTS*
SEPTEMBER
SQUIRREL


THANKSGIVING
YELLOW

* All Saints' Day [Tutti i Santi] is on 1st November.
** Fall:  Leaves fall in autumn, of course but fall is also a word for autumn in American English.
*** Harvest - when crops are picked [raccolta]