Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from Hankins English.
In the UK Christmas day is a national holiday (祝日) and so most people have the day off. Generally speaking British people spend Christmas with their families like new year in Japan.
In the morning we usually open our gifts. Gifts from Santa (in the UK Santa is also called Father Christmas) are sometimes put in a Christmas stocking (クリスマスの長靴下), but families often put presents under a Christmas tree too. In the UK, adults also receive gifts and children get some presents from relatives and friends, so there are often many gifts to display. A lot of families get a real tree from special tree farms.
As Christmas day is a holiday, most people have a special lunch together, not dinner like in Japan. It is usually a very big meal with some kind of roast meat (usually turkey or chicken but sometimes ham or beef) with vegetables and other side dishes. The traditional desert in the UK is a Christmas pudding.
The day after Christmas (December 26th) is also a national holiday in the UK. It is called Boxing Day, because in the old days people used to give servants and poor people (使用人や貧しい人たち) gifts (a Christmas box) on this day. You can read more about Boxing Day here: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ボクシング・デー
In the UK there are special calendars called Advent calendars that are used to count down the days to Christmas (クリスマスまでの期間に日数を数えるためのカレンダー).
Advent = 待降節の期間 – キリストの降誕を待ち望む期間
Traditionally the Advent season begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas day (クリスマスの四つ前の日曜日) and ends on Christmas Eve, but most modern advent calendars start on December 1st.
Advent calendars are special because they have small windows on them that you can open for each date and inside you can find pictures or sometimes stories or poems. The calendars usually have a Chistmas or winter theme.
Recently, however, there are many kinds of calendars you can buy, sometimes with sweets or chocolate behind each door or even a small toy.
In the picture above you can see the calendar my children received from their grandparents in the UK this year, which is in a very traditional style.
Modern Halloween has its roots in the Gaelic (ゲール人の) festival of Samhein from Ireland and Scotland. It is festival that marks the end of the harvest season (収穫期) and the beginning of winter. Spirits (霊魂) and souls of the dead (死者の魂) were also believed to come back to Earth at this time (like Obon in Japan). The autumn and scary (怖い) themes of modern Halloween have their roots in these traditions.
Though the roots of Halloween are from the UK and Ireland, modern Halloween celebrations are most popular in North America (America and Canada). People decorate their houses and children (and often adults too) dress up in costumes (仮装). They go around their neighbourhood (近所) saying “trick or treat” (「お菓子をくれないといたずらするよ」) to collect candy (or “sweets” as we say in the UK). They also carve (くりぬき) pumpkins to make into Jack O’Lanterns (カボチャのちょうちん).
In the old days people used to mostly wear scary costumes like ghosts and witches, but now you can see all kinds of characters.
Recently American style Halloween has become a little more popular in the UK, but surprisingly it is much more popular in Japan now.
One very important difference between British and American English that Japanese people need to learn is how we number the floors of a building.
Like in Japan, in America the ground level floor (地面と同じレベルの階) of a building is called the “first floor” (1階), but in British English we call it the “ground floor”. Therefore in British English what is called the second floor (2階) in America is called the “first floor” and the third floor (3階) is called the “second floor”…
This is also true in most European countries, so it is an important point to learn. You don’t want to make a mistake when you are in a building with many floors like a hotel or apartment building. Elevators (or “lifts” in British English) have a button marked “G” for “ground floor”.
This chart chart may help to make it a little clearer:
However, what is even more confusing (ややこしい) is that both British and American English use the same system to talk about how many storeys (何階建て) a building has. Therefore a 3 storey (3階建て) building in America has a first floor, second floor and third floor, but in the UK it has a ground floor, first floor and second floor…
There are many pairs of adjectives (形容詞) that describe emotions (感情を表す) in English, with one word ending in “-ed” and the other ending in “-ing”. They are very useful words but students are often confused (混乱する) about how to use them.
One example is the set of words “bored” and “boring”. The -ed word bored is used to talk about how a person feels (人の感情): He is bored – 彼は退屈しています。
The -ing word boring is used to talk about the thing (or person) that causes the emotion (感情の原因）: The lesson is boring – 退屈な授業です。
Instead of saying “I am bored”, students sometimes make a mistake and say “I am boring” which would mean 「私はつまらない人です」…
To remember how to use these words correctly (正確に), it may be useful to understand their roots (語幹). All of the -ed / -ing adjective pairs come from verbs (動詞). For example bored and boring come from the verb “bore” (退屈させる).
Bored is the past participle (過去分詞) of bore and so the phrase “He is bored” could be directly translated (直訳) as 「彼は退屈させられている」.
Boring is the present participle (現在分詞) of bore and so the phrase “The lesson is boring” could be directly translated as 「授業は（彼を）退屈させている」.
Here is a list of a few more useful -ed / -ing pairs:
In the UK the school year ends in July and so the longest holiday of the year is in the summer time – usually about 6 weeks. Because of this many families go on holiday at this time. In the UK it is generally easier for workers to take time off and so many families go on holiday for a week or even two weeks. Many people go somewhere in the UK, but foreign destinations are also popular, especially nearby European countries like France and Spain.
NOTE: In British English “go on holiday” means “go on vacation” (旅行する)
As the summer season in the UK is quite short, people like to take advantage of (うまく利用する) the warm weather as much as they can by doing things outside. Popular activities include doing barbecues, going on picnics and visiting the beach. The sea is very cold in the UK but people still like to go swimming. Another traditional activity that children enjoy at the beach is building sandcastles (砂の城).
The traditional summer sports in the UK are cricket and tennis and the most famous tennis competition in the world Wimbledon is held in London each year in July.
Some traditional summer foods include strawberries and cream, desserts made with summer fruits and cucumber sandwiches. British people also love ice cream and it is sold everywhere in the summer time. There are even ice-cream vans (アイスクリーム移動販売車) that travel around to sell ice-cream in towns and popular tourist spots.
Though British summer is getting much hotter recently (the record temperature in 2019 was 38.7°C…), the UK is not humid (蒸し暑い) like Japan and so is relatively comfortable (快適) even in mid-summer. The days are also longer (with the latest sunset being at around 9:30pm) and it is much cooler in the evenings than in the daytime.