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English Conversation 23: Jerry and Fei are comparing Christmas customs in New York and Beijing

Jerry: Look, Fei! I got a Christmas card from my sister.

Fei: It's very beautiful. Why are the words "Happy Holidays" written on the card? Christmas is only one holiday. Shouldn't it be "Happy Holiday", without the "s"?

Jerry: We don't just celebrate Christmas during this season. We also celebrate the coming of the New Year.

Fei: Oh, I never thought about that before. There's more than one holiday at the end of the year.

Jerry: Now that I'm in China, I want to celebrate the holidays Chinese-style. What do you and your family do for Christmas?

Fei: Actually, we don't do much at Christmas. It's not really a big family holiday. Young people in China would rather spend Christmas Eve with their boyfriends or girlfriends.

Jerry: So is it something like a date night?

Fei: Yes, I guess you could say that. Christmas Eve is special, but we don't usually have any special plans for Christmas Day.

Jerry: Don't people give gifts to each other like they do in the U.S.?

Fei: Many parents do give gifts to their kids. But more importanly, boyfriends give wonderful, special, romantic gifts to their girlfriends!

Jerry: I see. How about the New Year in China. Is it a bigger holiday than Christmas?

Fei: Not really. We don't celebrate it because the Spring Festival is much more important to us here in China.

Jerry: The Spring Festival is known around the world as "Chinese New Year". It's the beginning of the year according to the traditional lunar calendar, isn't it?

Fei: That's right. The Spring Festival is the biggest family holiday in China, so we don't celebrate the western New Year. How about in New York? Do people celebrate New Year's Eve more or New Year's Day?

Jerry: There are two kinds of people who celebrate quite differently. Single people, or couples without children, often go out late on New Year's Eve. They drink and party after the clock strikes midnight. There are big parties all over, but the biggest is in Times Square in Manhattan.

Fei: I guess they won't have much energy left over to do anything on New Year's Day, then.

Jerry: Right. But there are families who don't do anything special on New Year's Eve. Instead, they celebrate with their families on New Year's Day.

Fei: What do they do on New Year's Day?

Jerry: They have a big meal to celebrate and often watch parades in the big cities. The parades are quite spectacular.

Fei: It sounds a little bit like our traditional Lion Dance.

Jerry: Yes, it's a lot like the Lion Dance, except there is no lion!


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