Unit 9 Holidays and Special Days
A Merry Christmas
by Patrick Brendan
 "Merry", as you may know, has two meanings: happy and drunk. If you're like a large number of British people, then your Christmas will be an alcoholic, rather than a religious, occasion. Throughout the whole Christmas season which stretches from early December to the end of the first week of January, you will spend hours drinking with friends, relatives and colleagues. Whether you are surrounded by the noisy friendliness of a pub or whether you are seated in the peaceful comfort of someone's home, you will be sipping away on a drink.
 If you walk down Piccadilly or Oxford Street just before Christmas, you will see an incredible amount of money being spent on electronic games, bottles of spirits, expensive clothes, CDs, cassettes, cameras, and a large number of luxury items. If you walk down the main street of several towns in the East end of London just before Christmas, you won't see a large amount of money being spent on presents. If you have the money or if you are prepared to go into debt, you will participate in the conspicuous consumption that Christmas has come to represent. If you are poor, you will feel sad and disappointed because you cannot give the gifts you would like to give to your loved ones.
 Christmas is supposed to be a time to express our love and goodwill towards others. It is supposed to be a time when we perform acts of kindness for people less fortunate than ourselves. But do we think of other people when we sit down to our Christmas dinner? Of course not—we're too busy eating those delicious foods associated with Christmas. We are too busy wondering whether the presents we gave were as nice or better than the ones we received. We forget to think of the sick and the homeless. The whole idea of Christmas now is largely unchristian—I'm sure that Christ would be distressed if he could see what sort of celebrations are being carried out in his name.
 So I'm against Christmas—I agree with Scrooge: "It's all humbug." If we're going to continue with this wasteful, thoughtless ceremony, then let's be truthful about it, and call it "Stomach Week"—but let's get rid of the hypocritical pretence that Christmas is "the season of goodwill". Let's face it, Christmas is a holiday that has lost its meaning. Not Only for Children?
 Recently, a rather sophisticated woman told me shyly that she saves up all her presents until Christmas morning and then sits up in bed and opens them, just like a
child. She thought I would laugh at her and say how silly she was. But in fact I was absolutely delighted to meet someone who treats Christmas as I do.
 Many people today have a very different attitude toward Christmas. They think it's just a time when shopkeepers make a lot of money and everyone rushes round buying presents they don't want to give and food they don't want to eat. But have they grown so far away from their own childhood that they can't remember all the good things?
 First of all, Christmas takes you out of the ordinary routine of life. For children, the fun begins weeks before when the decorations are put up, and excitement gradually increases as December the 25th approaches.
 Everyone seems much friendlier to each other than usual at Christmastime. You can lean out of a car window when you're stopped at the traffic lights and say "Merry Christmas", and people will smile and respond. You probably wouldn't think of doing that at any other time of the year. Perhaps it's because most people are on holiday or because everyone knows that they are sharing a similar experience. Giving presents can be very satisfying, too, if you plan far enough in advance and really think of the right present for the right person.
 Indeed, whatever shopkeepers gain out of Christmas, it is still a "holy day", the words from which "holiday" is derived and it gives people time to pause and concentrate for a moment on non-commercial values.
4 因此，我反对过圣诞节—我同意斯克鲁奇的看法：“这全是挂羊头卖狗肉。如果我们还要继续以这种铺张浪费、愚昧无知的方式庆祝的话，那么让我们诚实一点，就把它叫做“吃喝周”—让我们剥掉虚伪的假装，去说什么圣诞节是“表达良好祝愿的时节” 。让我们正视它吧，圣诞节是一个失去了原来意义的节日。不仅仅为小孩？不仅仅为小孩？
7 首先，圣诞节使你摆脱日常生活的轨道。对孩子们来说，在装饰品挂起来的前几周，乐趣已经开始了，随着12 月25 日的临近，激动的气氛越来越浓。
8 在圣诞节期间，对大家来说，人与人之间似乎都要比平时友好得多。当你在交通灯处停下来的时候，你可以把头伸出车窗外说：“圣诞快乐” 。人们会微笑着给予回应。在平时大概你是很难想到会这样做的。这或许是因为大部分人在度假，或者因为每个人都知道他们正在分享同一种经历。如果你早早就把礼物准备起来，而且真的想好把适当的礼物送给适当的人，送礼也是一件非常令人心满意足的快事。
9 说实在的，不管店主从圣诞节中得到什么盈利，圣诞节还是一个“神圣的日子(holy day)”“节日。(holiday)”这个词就是从“神圣的日子”来的，它使人们有时间停下来，花一会儿工夫认真地想一想其非商业的价值。
Why I love Thanksgiving
by Willard Scott
 Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit nearly every state in the Union, and I never cease to be amazed by our country's variety of people and places. I can step out of a subway into New York City, go around a Michigan blueberry farm, or dig for clams along a deserted beach in Maine. These places are very different but they represent the land I love.
 One of the strongest similarities I have found in all of us Americans is the way we treat holidays. We all love holidays. They give us a reason to forget routine, to celebrate, and to make memories. What holiday gives us a better chance to do all of these things than Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving weekend is for most of us the longest, least interrupted weekend of the year. It is the ideal time for family and friends to come together again. It
is also the most purely American of all holidays, because it celebrates the settling of our country by the Pilgrims over 350 years ago.
 For me, Thanksgiving recalls all the things in life that I respond to most strongly and for which I am truly thankful. There is the simple beauty of the earth and the harvest time. There is the satisfaction that comes from the working of the crops. And there is the tradition of the day itself: the return to my family homes in the green hills of Maryland and Virginia, the delicious food, and the sharing of holiday rituals.
 For as long as I can remember, my grandparents had a farm near Freeland, Maryland. Although I don't visit it often now, it was once the center of my life. I was five years old when I spent my first Thanksgiving at the farm. I remember the meal: the huge roast turkey , the red cranberry sauce , the wonderful mounds of just- whipped potatoes, and our family favorite pies — pumpkin and apple, fragrant with spices . That evening we gathered in the parlor and sang. "Singing for our supper," we called it. To this day we sing for our supper in the Scott household on Thanksgiving. We always sing our favorite, "We Gather Together."
 In the Scott household, the Thanksgiving traditions have never waned ; they've just changed a bit. Although I now live in New York City, I never spend Thanksgiving away from the farm. Instead of at my grandparents' farm, it is now at my own farm in Virginia. Both my wife and I love to cook and we try to do extra special things on the holidays. In addition to our old traditional family favorites, we've added a molded tomato salad, an extremely rich sweet potato casserole , and a heavenly coconut and mandarin orange salad . But no matter how much the menu changes, no matter if we are serving roast goose instead of roast turkey or Southern pecan pie instead of apple, the sentiment remains the same. The spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday promotes life, friendship, closeness and family unity . Everyone who shares a Thanksgiving meal with us becomes a friend, and every friend becomes an honorary member of the family
 I like to believe that I can remember clearly every taste, every smell, every slightly off-key note of our happy singing — everything except where all the Thanksgivings went. As I grow older, the celebrations seem to merge into one set of the best memories. I'll always remember Thanksgivings as the times we ate good food, sang old-fashioned songs, and shared a lot of love with family and friends. May you all have the same kind of joy.
2 我发现我们美国人有一个最大的共同点，那就是对待节日的方式。我们都热爱节日。节日使我们有理由忘掉日常的惯例，去庆祝、去做值得回忆的事情。在所有节日中还有哪个能比感恩节更让我们有机会这么做的呢？对我们大多数人来说，感恩节这个周末是一年当中最长、最不受干扰的周末。是亲朋好友再相聚的最佳时节，也是所有节日当中最具美国特征的节日，因为它是庆祝350 多年前早期移民来这儿定居的节日。
4 我记得，我的祖父母在马里兰州的弗里兰附近有一个农场。尽管我现在不常去那儿，但那里曾经一度是我生活的中心。第一次在那个农场过感恩节时，我才五岁。我还记得那顿饭：硕大的烤火鸡，鲜红的越桔酱，许多现做的极好吃的土豆泥，还有我们家最喜欢的南瓜馅饼和苹果馅饼，散发着调料的香味。那天晚上，我们围坐在客厅里，尽情歌唱。我们称之为“为晚餐而唱” 。直到今天，每逢感恩节，在我们斯各特家里还为晚餐而唱。我们总喜欢唱那首“我们欢聚一堂” 。
April Fools' Day
by Neil Finer
 A visitor from the planet Mars looking through the newspapers on 1 April would surely wonder why all the most extraordinary advances in human knowledge seem to be discovered on 31 March, just in time for them to be reported the following day. (Some
years ago, the German car manufacturer BMW placed an advertisement in the British newspapers for a car which would only start when it recognized the feel of the owner's body in the driver's seat.) For 1 April is, of course, April Fools' Day, the day traditionally reserved for jokes.
 No one knows exactly when and why April Fools' Day began, but it has been observed for centuries in several countries in Europe and Asia. It was certainly well-established in Britain and France by the early 18th century.
 More recently, China has been joining in the fun. In 1993, Beijing's normally serious newspaper China Youth Daily printed a whole page of April Fool(s') jokes. One article said that, in an important change to China's one-child per-family policy , intellectuals with doctor's degrees would now be allowed a second child. It was so convincing that a French news agency used the report. Another story on the same page claimed that the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi was looking for a female Chinese bodyguard, aged 23 to 25, with a university degree and expertise in Kung Fu (not so hard to believe since Gaddafi does use female bodyguards). However, not everyone was amused by these April Fools' jokes, and the newspaper was forced to print a front-page apology.
 In Britain, 1 April has increasingly come to be seen by the British press as an occasion to abandon the telling of the truth; instead they try to tell bigger and better lies than their rivals . In 1995, for example, the " archaeology correspondent " of the respected Guardian newspaper wrote a report saying that the village of a well-known French comic -strip character had been discovered in northern France:
 The report said that the village was almost exactly as described in the comic strip. Author R é n é Goscinny was not aware of its existence when he wrote his stories but he had only one major detail wrong in his description. But Goscinny got the location exactly right — in the right place, on top of a high cliff overlooking the English Channel .
 It was, of course, untrue. Another Guardian April Fool(s') classic was their 1977 seven-page supplement on a totally imaginary island. Article after article described the island's attractions for sun-seeking tourists and its economic and social development. This was not the first time that British journalists had tried to fool the public. In fact, the inspiration came from the BBC. In 1957, the BBC broadcast a television program showing Italian " spaghetti farmers" harvesting spaghetti from trees. Newspaper editorials strongly criticized the program's producer for misleading the British public.
 But if all this makes you feel determined not to be tricked this year, be careful when you are trying to uncover the jokes. For some newspapers have found a new way to
deceive their readers — by not lying. Last year, The Guardian examined the most unlikely stories published by its rivals and decided that The Daily Telegraph's report about the world's first flying moth -collecting machine couldn't possibly be true. But it was. Then, The Telegraph questioned the authenticity of some unknown poems by the young W. H. Auden (the British-born 20th-century poet), which had appeared in The Guardian.
We do not know,
If there be fairies now,
 The Telegraph stated that the poems were so dreadful , they had to be genuine . And they were right. So if this year you read, for example, an article telling of goats being wrapped in life-jackets and launched into polluted waters to eat up all environmentally harmful vegetation , don't be a fool — think twice before deciding it's a joke.
1 如果有火星来客在4 月1 日翻看一份份报纸的话，一定会感到奇怪：为什么人类知识上最了不起的突飞猛进都发生在3 月31 日，正好赶上第二天的报道。(几年前，德国宝马汽车的制造厂家在英国的报纸上为他们的一款汽车做广告，说这种汽车只有在确认了驾驶座上坐的是汽车主人自己时才会发动。当然，那是因为4 月1 日是愚人节，是传统上开玩笑的日子。
3 近来，中国也开始分享愚人节的快乐。1993 年，通常作风严肃的《中国青年报》刊登了一整版的愚人节玩笑。其中一篇文章说，中国一个家庭只生一个孩子的政策有了重大变化，允许有博士学位的知识分子生第二胎。该消息如此有说服力，以至于法国的一家报社采用了这则报道。同一版面上的另一条消息则称，利比亚领导人卡扎菲上校需要聘请一位中国女保镖，年龄在23 岁至25 岁之间，有大学学历，精通武术(这则消息很难让人质疑，因为卡扎菲确实有女保镖)。然而，并不是每个人都喜欢这些愚人节的玩笑，于是，《中国青年报》后来不得不在第一版道歉。
4 在英国，4 月1 日越来越被报界当作一个可以摈弃真实报道的时机，他们争相制造更大、更巧妙的假消息，试图超过自己的竞争对手。例如，199
5 年，一向受推崇的《卫报》发表了一位“考古记者” 的文章，声称在法国北部发现了一个法国著名的连环漫画人物所住的村庄。
7 年刊登的副刊，整整7 页，都是有关一个完全虚构的海岛。副刊连篇累牍地描述那些吸引热爱阳光游客的旅游点、岛上的经济和社会发展情况。这并不是英国新闻工作者第一次愚弄大众。事实上，他们的灵感来自英国广播公司。1957 年，英国广播公司播放了一个电视节目，描述意大利的“面条农”正在从树上收割意大利细面条。报刊评论对该节目制作人进行了猛烈的抨击，指责他们误导英国大众。
7 不过，如果所有这些让你打定主意，今年的愚人节一定不要上当的话，那么你在揭穿这些玩笑时可要小心。因为有些报纸已经采取了欺骗读者的新手段——不说谎话。去年，《卫报》对自己的竞争对手们发表的最离奇的故事进行了甄别，断定《每日电讯报》有关世界上首架捕蛾飞行器的消息不可能是真的。然而，这却是真的。然后，《每日电讯报》对《卫报》上刊登的W. H.奥登(生于英国的20 世纪诗人) 年轻时写的一些不为人知的诗歌作品的真实性表示质疑。