In Britain not pulling a cracker means that something is missing! Both children and adults love them and they add more fun and laughter to Christmas dinner and parties. But where did this tradition come from? I came across this article and found it such a sweet story that I just couldn’t help not using it, so this one is to help you go over past tenses (active and passive ) and some present tenses too.
I say British because Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world and obviously, everybody has their way of doing this. If you’re from a country but you live in another one (like me), you will most probably blend both traditions which means that on Christmas Day you might eat a typical Majorcan soup for starters and have turkey as main dish, just to set an example. It might also mean that you have to behave extra-well if you want both, Santa and the Three Kings to call round, but it will also sound a bit awkward for relatives back in England when you tell them that you are still feasting and celebrating when they have already got back to their daily routine at the workplace and have probably been on a diet for the last fortnight (getting rid of those extra Christmas calories). Anyway, whatever you do and whatever your beliefs are, I think Christmas is a lovely moment to enjoy time with your loved ones and to reach out to those you haven’t seen for some time just to remind them how much you love and care for them. That for me is what really matters at Christmas, don’t you agree?
Here you have a Christmas quiz on some cultural aspects from British Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.
In the next activity on word formation, you may notice that I use the expression ‘to go bananas’. Well, that’s another one of those food idioms. Can you guess what this idiom means? If I went bananas one of those days in which many of my students didn’t do their homework, what do you think happened to me? Did I go all yellow as if I were suffering from jaundice? Did I sort of peel? Just for the sake of learning a little more English and having some fun, you might want to make a guess on the link below.
Is it actually true that the British spend a lot of their time talking about the weather, or this just another one of those beliefs like ‘we have to have tea at five on the dot or we’ll go bananas ’, sort of stuff ? And, if it is true, is this feature shared by other cultures?
Well, I must say that we are particularly fond of talking about the weather, although I would also say that it’s a common topic of conversation in Spain too. However, what I do seem to notice is that people from these countries have a different way to approach this subject even when both typically use it as an icebreaker.
Where I live, people usually make exclamations about it. Sort of like ‘Vaya frio! Where a Brit would most probably make a tactfully brief statement of one or two words and polish it off with a question tag, ‘Cold, isn’t it?
Looking into this aspect of British culture, I found this really interesting article that I’ve used to create a word formation activity for higher levels of English (C1 more or less).
The article is from the BBC by Linda Geddes
Read the text and focus on each blank using the words in brackets. The missing words are either adjectives or adverbs as the focus here is to practise with the different types of prefixes (yes, there are a couple of negative ones), and suffixes used to form these words.
travel (uncountable noun) term used to refer to the act or activity of travelling.
travel (verb intransitive transitive)to go from one place to another. When meaning long distances, we usually use travel instead of trip. We also use this word when we talk about travelling for a reason such as work, etc.
I love travelling – I’d love to travel around the world – Tomorrow I have to get up early. I’m travelling.
trip (countable noun) an excursion or a journey somewhere and back, especially for pleasure.
We went on a boat trip to the island.
journey (countable noun) the act of travelling from one place and another. Here the focus is placed on talking about what happens between the beginning and ending of these points. For example, if going from Madrid to Paris on a train, you enjoyed it because it was quick, you had a good meal and a nice nap, you would say something like ‘your journey was nice’. But if you had bad weather, the food was horrible and the person on the seat next to you, kept dropping off, snoring almost all the way, you’d probably say that your ‘journey was horrible’.