Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the UK and many other countries on February 14th. It is day when couples show their love for their partner by giving them a gift, usually chocolates or flowers, but sometimes something more expensive like jewellery. In the UK many people also give each other Valentine’s cards. Sometimes people send a card without writing their name and it is a chance to secretly tell someone you love them.
Unlike in Japan, in the UK men usually give gifts and cards to women and it is not so common to give things to family members, friends or co-workers etc. There is also no White Day, which is an original Japanese creation.
The full name of the celebration is Saint Valentine’s Day and it is named after the Christian saint (聖人) Valentine who is the patron saint of lovers (恋人たちの守護聖人).
Picture books (絵本) are a great way to study English for both children and adults. They are also fun to collect and reflect (反映する) the local culture of the countries where they were written.
The UK has a long history of picture books, but this time I would like to introduce a popular modern series.
The series is called Winnie the Witch written by Valerie Thomas and illustrated by Korky Paul. The books are about the adventures of a witch called Winnie and her pet cat Wilbur. In each book Winnie usually gets in trouble (トラブルに巻き込まれる) by using her magic, but in the end fixes the problem with magic too.
There are now 19 books in the series with many different themes. They have very lively (生き生きとした), colourful and detailed (細かい) illustrations and every time you read the book you can find new things. My children both love the books and we have collected 13 in total.
I recommend starting with the first book in the series, which is simply titled “Winnie the Witch”. Most of the books are available from Amazon Japan as well as some audio CDs:
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