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VOA慢速英语2018--美国圣诞节的历史

时间:2018-12-26 15:21来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]
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A History of Christmas in America

From VOA Learning English, I'm Caty Weaver1.

Today, Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith present a special program on Christmas traditions in the United States during the first half of the 19th century.

During this period, there was no set way of celebrating the day, which was not yet an official holiday. Communities around the country honored the day in different ways. Some observed Christmas as an important Christian2 religious day honoring the birth of Jesus. Others celebrated3 the day with parties, music, drinking and eating. And, some communities did not celebrate the day at all.

But, it was during this period that Americans began to reinvent the holiday. They combined ancient Christmas traditions from different cultures with modern American influences.

Here are Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith.

In 1819, the popular American writer Washington Irving wrote a series of five essays published in a book called The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

The essays describe a wealthy British landowner who invites his farm workers into his home to celebrate Christmas. The landowner recreates a traditional Christmas as it would have been celebrated in the distant past. Irving praised this looking back to ancient traditions. He liked the idea of different levels of society coming together to enjoy a festive4 and peaceful holiday. Washington Irving seemed to express concern about the lack of such unifying5 Christmas traditions in modern America.

Immigrants shape Christmas traditions

Penne Restad wrote a book Christmas in America: A History. It shows how Americans began to slowly shape Christmas into a unifying national holiday during the first half of the 19th century. She describes how Christmas had different meanings for Americans who came from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Many immigrants brought Christmas traditions from their own countries.

Religion played a big role in how an American might celebrate the holiday. Calvinist Christians6 banned the celebration of Christmas. But groups such as Episcopalians and Moravians honored the day with religious services and seasonal7 decorations.

By mid-century, Christian groups began to ignore their religious differences over the meaning of Christmas and honored the day in special ways.

Christmas became an important time for families to celebrate at home. More and more Christian Americans also began to follow the European traditions of Christmas trees and giving gifts. Christians believed that the tree represented Jesus and was also a sign of new beginnings. German immigrants brought their tradition of putting lights, sweets and toys on the branches of evergreen8 trees placed in their homes.

This tradition of setting up a Christmas tree soon spread to many American homes. So did the practice of giving people presents. As these traditions increased in popularity, the modern trade and business linked to Christmas also grew.

Christmas as a holiday

As Christmas became more popular, some states declared the day a state holiday. Louisiana was the first state to make the move in 1837. By 1860, 14 other states had followed. It was not until 1870 that President Ulysses Grant made Christmas a federal holiday.

Americans already knew old Christmas songs that came from England and other areas of Europe. But many new American Christmas songs started to become popular. For example, in eighteen forty-nine, a religious leader from Massachusetts wrote the words to It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.The song Jingle9 Bells appeared seven years later. And, a year later, a religious leader in Williamsport, Pennsylvania wrote the song We Three Kings of Orient Are.

And of course, no discussion of Christmas would be complete without talking about of one of the holiday’s most famous representations, Santa Claus.

This character is based on the story of Saint Nicholas, a Christian holy person believed to have lived in the third century. Saint Nicholas became known as a protector of children. Different cultures have given him different names. These include Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. But for most Americans his most popular name would become Santa Claus.

In the 19th century, many Dutch immigrants living in the United States celebrated the feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6. Saint Nicholas was especially important to New Yorkers because of their history as a Dutch colony. In 1809, Washington Irving published his History of New York. It lists Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of New Yorkers. He describes the saint wearing a low hat, large pants, and smoking a pipe. Does this description sound familiar?

Words in This Story

society - n. people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values?

festive - adj. cheerful and exciting: suited to a celebration or holiday?

unifying - v. to cause (people or things) to be joined or brought together?

decoration - n. something that is added to something else to make it more attractive?

practice - n. something that is done often or regularly


点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 weaver LgWwd     
n.织布工;编织者
参考例句:
  • She was a fast weaver and the cloth was very good.她织布织得很快,而且布的质量很好。
  • The eager weaver did not notice my confusion.热心的纺织工人没有注意到我的狼狈相。
2 Christian KVByl     
adj.基督教徒的;n.基督教徒
参考例句:
  • They always addressed each other by their Christian name.他们总是以教名互相称呼。
  • His mother is a sincere Christian.他母亲是个虔诚的基督教徒。
3 celebrated iwLzpz     
adj.有名的,声誉卓著的
参考例句:
  • He was soon one of the most celebrated young painters in England.不久他就成了英格兰最负盛名的年轻画家之一。
  • The celebrated violinist was mobbed by the audience.观众团团围住了这位著名的小提琴演奏家。
4 festive mkBx5     
adj.欢宴的,节日的
参考例句:
  • It was Christmas and everyone was in festive mood.当时是圣诞节,每个人都沉浸在节日的欢乐中。
  • We all wore festive costumes to the ball.我们都穿着节日的盛装前去参加舞会。
5 unifying 18f99ec3e0286dcc4f6f318a4d8aa539     
使联合( unify的现在分词 ); 使相同; 使一致; 统一
参考例句:
  • In addition, there were certain religious bonds of a unifying kind. 此外,他们还有某种具有一种统一性质的宗教上的结合。
  • There is a unifying theme, and that is the theme of information flow within biological systems. 我们可以用一个总的命题,把生物学系统内的信息流来作为这一研究主题。
6 Christians 28e6e30f94480962cc721493f76ca6c6     
n.基督教徒( Christian的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • Christians of all denominations attended the conference. 基督教所有教派的人都出席了这次会议。
  • His novel about Jesus caused a furore among Christians. 他关于耶稣的小说激起了基督教徒的公愤。
7 seasonal LZ1xE     
adj.季节的,季节性的
参考例句:
  • The town relies on the seasonal tourist industry for jobs.这个城镇依靠季节性旅游业提供就业机会。
  • The hors d'oeuvre is seasonal vegetables.餐前小吃是应时蔬菜。
8 evergreen mtFz78     
n.常青树;adj.四季常青的
参考例句:
  • Some trees are evergreen;they are called evergreen.有的树是常青的,被叫做常青树。
  • There is a small evergreen shrub on the hillside.山腰上有一小块常绿灌木丛。
9 jingle RaizA     
n.叮当声,韵律简单的诗句;v.使叮当作响,叮当响,押韵
参考例句:
  • The key fell on the ground with a jingle.钥匙叮当落地。
  • The knives and forks set up their regular jingle.刀叉发出常有的叮当声。
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TAG标签:   VOA英语  慢速英语
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