Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nouveautés bac 2014 en TL

Le Ministère de l'Education nationale a bel et bien revu les horaires des épreuves de langues en terminale L.
L'épreuve de LVA passe de 30 minutes à 20 minutes et LELE reste à 10 minutes, ce qui fait un total de 30 minutes au lieu des 40 minutes du bac 2013.
Plus de détails ici.

Snow Related Vocabulary

A photo taken with my phone from the kitchen window. This led me to Enchanted Learning website to find out all the vocabulary related to snow you should know dear ones. Here it is.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn Holidays in the English Speaking World

Although Halloween is probably the most famous holidays in the English speaking world, it is certainly not the only one and not the least artificial.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31, each year and the usual way to celebrate it is to dress oneself into some terrifying monster, witch or ghost and trick-or-treat the neighborhood.

The date of this celebration is only one day before the Christian celebration of All Saints day on November 1. Actually Halloween is the night when all ghosts, spirits of the deceased get out of the darkness and haunt the living people world. the name itself says it all, Halloween stands in fact for All Hallow's Even, ie the day before all spirits' day.

It started in Europe as the Celtic harvest festival Sahmain /ˈsɑːwɪn/ which corresponds to the end of harvest late summer and the beginning of winter. Of course, when Irish and Scottish people immigrated to North-America, they brought with them this festival which started to be celebrated in the 19th century. It then came back to Europe late in the 20th century.

In India, the light is also celebrated for three whole days from November 3 to 5. The meaning of it is quite different as it is considered a time for the return of wealth, the new beginning, the winning of good versus evil, intelligence against ignorance. More information on this page from the BBC.

Now there are two other important festivals in Europe and the USA. Guy Fawkes' Night and Thanksgiving.

Guy Fawkes was a Catholic dissident in the 17th century in England. He wanted to blow up the House of Parliament with powder -- the Powder Plot -- but he was arrested right in time just before he could cause any damage. That was on the night of November 5, 1605. It is said that the amount of powder he intended to use was enough to destroy the most part of the city of London which burnt down later that century (1666). Anyway he was arrested and executed for felony against the English Crown. He and his fellow conspirators were quartered.

The other important festival of Autumn is in North-America and is called Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims -- religious dissidents mostly from England -- fled their country because they were persecuted. They went on board of three ships, one of which, the most famous was called the Mayflower. They crossed the Atlantic and arrived in what is now called Cape Cod in Massachusetts. They named the point where they arrived the same as the port from which they left Europe, Plymouth. The problem was that the crops they had taken with them did not make the trip and the only resources that were left were not enough for everyone and they never grew on this supposed promised land.

Many died after a lot of suffering and diseases that also killed a lot of them.
So the first year was horrendous and very few survived. The Wampanoag helped these new settlers to survive by showing them how to grow food and what animal hunt to have meat.
That's how the Pilgrims survived.

Giving thanks was not a new thing, these religious people often gave thanks back in Europe. They did not quite thank the Native Americans for helping them, but their God rather. Only set as a national holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving used to be celebrated every last Thursday of November until the early 20th century when Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to put it on the fourth Thursday of November.

In fact, the first Thanksgiving in 1621 was not totally different from the pagan counterpart Sahmain as far as both are celebrations to feast on the harvest and although the first settlers did not recognized it as a celebration, again, their Christian holiday or celebration is rooted deep in the culture of the European pre-Christian civilizations, just like Christmas or Easter are.

Another page to learn more.