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Sawasdee ! How are you doing ?

        

Please all of you be enjoy through this year Christmas Eve and Happy New Year 2019.

 Many thanks to Google Translate today.

 

FRANCE 24 Live – International Breaking News & Top stories - 24/7 stream

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Jim Reeves - The Best Christmas Songs (FULL ALBUM - BEST OF CLASSICAL ROCK)

https://youtu.be/vfoZot3P8KI

.........................................

 

 
 

A History of Christmas in America

2 hours ago

Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 22, 2018.
Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the 92nd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 22, 2018.
 
A History of Christmas in America
 

From VOA Learning English, I'm Caty Weaver.

Today, Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith present a special program on Christmas traditions in the United States during the first half of the 19th century.

During this period, there was no set way of celebrating the day, which was not yet an official holiday. Communities around the country honored the day in different ways. Some observed Christmas as an important Christian religious day honoring the birth of Jesus. Others celebrated the day with parties, music, drinking and eating. And, some communities did not celebrate the day at all.

But, it was during this period that Americans began to reinvent the holiday. They combined ancient Christmas traditions from different cultures with modern American influences.

Here are Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith.

In 1819, the popular American writer Washington Irving wrote a series of five essayspublished in a book called The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

The essays describe a wealthy British landowner who invites his farm workers into his home to celebrate Christmas. The landowner recreates a traditional Christmas as it would have been celebrated in the distant past. Irving praised this looking back to ancient traditions. He liked the idea of different levels of society coming together to enjoy a festive and peaceful holiday. Washington Irving seemed to express concern about the lack of such unifying Christmas traditions in modern America.

People watch the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 28, 2018.
People watch the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 28, 2018.

Immigrants shape Christmas traditions

Penne Restad wrote a book Christmas in America: A History. It shows how Americans began to slowly shape Christmas into a unifying national holiday during the first half of the 19th century. She describes how Christmas had different meanings for Americans who came from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Many immigrants brought Christmas traditions from their own countries.

Religion played a big role in how an American might celebrate the holiday. Calvinist Christians banned the celebration of Christmas. But groups such as Episcopalians and Moravians honored the day with religious services and seasonal decorations.

By mid-century, Christian groups began to ignore their religious differences over the meaning of Christmas and honored the day in special ways.

Christmas became an important time for families to celebrate at home. More and more Christian Americans also began to follow the European traditions of Christmas trees and giving gifts. Christians believed that the tree represented Jesus and was also a sign of new beginnings. German immigrants brought their tradition of putting lights, sweets and toys on the branches of evergreen trees placed in their homes.

This tradition of setting up a Christmas tree soon spread to many American homes. So did the practice of giving people presents. As these traditions increased in popularity, the modern trade and business linked to Christmas also grew.

An ornament with an image of President George Washington is seen during the 2018 Christmas preview at the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
An ornament with an image of President George Washington is seen during the 2018 Christmas preview at the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Christmas as a holiday

As Christmas became more popular, some states declared the day a state holiday. Louisiana was the first state to make the move in 1837. By 1860, 14 other states had followed. It was not until 1870 that President Ulysses Grant made Christmas a federal holiday.

Americans already knew old Christmas songs that came from England and other areas of Europe. But many new American Christmas songs started to become popular. For example, in eighteen forty-nine, a religious leader from Massachusetts wrote the words to It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.The song Jingle Bells appeared seven years later. And, a year later, a religious leader in Williamsport, Pennsylvania wrote the song We Three Kings of Orient Are.

And of course, no discussion of Christmas would be complete without talking about of one of the holiday’s most famous representations, Santa Claus.

This character is based on the story of Saint Nicholas, a Christian holy person believed to have lived in the third century. Saint Nicholas became known as a protector of children. Different cultures have given him different names. These include Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. But for most Americans his most popular name would become Santa Claus.

In the 19th century, many Dutch immigrants living in the United States celebrated the feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6. Saint Nicholas was especially important to New Yorkers because of their history as a Dutch colony. In 1809, Washington Irving published his History of New York. It lists Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of New Yorkers. He describes the saint wearing a low hat, large pants, and smoking a pipe. Does this description sound familiar?

Participants of the Santa Claus World Congress visit the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Participants of the Santa Claus World Congress visit the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

 

society n. people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values​

festive - adj. cheerful and exciting: suited to a celebration or holiday​

unifying - v. to cause (people or things) to be joined or brought together​

decoration n. something that is added to something else to make it more attractive​

practice n. something that is done often or regularly​

......................................

More Companies Want Employees to Work Less

3 hours ago

In this Aug. 2, 2017, photo, Nissan Motor Co. factory workers check engines on an assembly line at its plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
In this Aug. 2, 2017, photo, Nissan Motor Co. factory workers check engines on an assembly line at its plant in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
 
More Companies Want Employees to Work Less
 
 

In many industrial countries, people work five eight-hour days or 40 hours a week. But some companies now want their employees to work just four days a week and still pay them for five.

Is it too good to be true?

Companies that reduced work hours have found that their employees like their jobs more and are more productive at work.

Jan Schulz-Hofen set up the computer software company Planio in Berlin, Germany. Planio offered a four-day week to its 10-member work force earlier this year. Schulz-Hofen said, “It is much healthier and we do a better job if we’re not working crazyhours.”

In New Zealand, a company called Perpetual Guardian tested how its employees reacted to a 32-hour workweek earlier this year. It said the workers reported feeling less pressured and more involved with the business.

In Japan, the government is urging companies to let their workers have Monday mornings off. Other attempts to reduce working hours, however, have had little effect since many Japanese continue to work extra hours anyway.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) is pushing for the country to move to a four-day week by the end of the century. The group argues that a shorter workweek is a way for workers to share in the wealth made by new technologies like machine learning and robotics. The union compared that to the time they won the right to have weekends off during the industrial revolution.

TUC’s Kate Bell noted, “It would reduce the stress of juggling working and family life and could improve gender equality. Companies that have already tried it say it’s better for productivity and staff well-being.”

A dock worker is seen on a quayside at Associated British Ports Goole facility in Goole, Britain August 2, 2018. Picture taken August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble
A dock worker is seen on a quayside at Associated British Ports Goole facility in Goole, Britain August 2, 2018. Picture taken August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Overworked?

Lucie Greene is with the marketing communications company J. Walter Thompson. She said, “People are starting to take a step back from the 24-hour digital life we have now and realize the mental health issues from being constantly connected to work.”

A study of 3,000 employees found that nearly half thought they could easily finish their work in five hours a day if they did not have to stop and re-start. Many said they already are working more than 40 hours a week anyway. The workers were from eight countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany.

Dan Schawbel is with Future Workplace, which carried out the survey with Kronos. He observed, “Because you always have the technology, you are always working, so people are getting burned out.

Schulz-Hofen of Planio first tested the four-day workweek on himself. He felt the need to slow down after several years of intense work to launch the software company.

“I didn’t get less work done in four days than in five because in five days, you think you have more time, you take longer,” he said. With a four-day workweek, he added, “I have to be quick, I have to be focused if I want to have my free Friday.”

Schulz-Hofen added, “We got an unexpected reaction from customers. Most of our clients did not complain. They were just jealous.”

Dan Schawbel expects more companies and countries will permit a four-day workweek, but not in the United States. He said, “I think America will be the last country to give us Monday mornings off because we’re so used to this way of working.”

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Hai Do adapted this Reuters news agency story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

_____________________________________________________________

Quiz

 

Quiz - More Companies Want Employees to Work Less

Quiz - More Companies Want Employees to Work Less

Start the Quiz to find out

​_____________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

 

crazy - adj. foolish, unreasonable

juggle - v. to do several things at the same time

gender - n. the state of being male or female

digital - adj. using or characterized by computer technology

customer - n. someone who buys goods or services from a business

jealous - adj. showing unhappy or angry desire to have what someone else has

....................................... 

 

Accessibility links

 

Unit 7: News Review
How to use the language from the latest news stories

SELECT A UNIT

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10

Session 70

Bumblebees can develop an addiction to nicotine-containing pesticides, British scientist find.  Dan and Neil teach you the language the media is using to discuss this story.

Sessions in this unit

Session 70 score

0 / 3

Activity 1

News Review

Bees develop 'smoker-like' addiction

British scientists have found that bumblebees prefer food coated in a nicotine-containing pesticide and develop an addiction similar to a human smoker.

Language challenge

Someone who ruins your excitement is called a…

a) buzzter
b) buzzkill
c) buzzker

 

Watch the video and complete the activity

NEWS REVIEW PODCAST NOW AVAILABLE - SUBSCRIBE HERE

 

Did you like that? Why not try these? 

 ...........................................

 

Ex-Cabinet colleague says Prayut unfit to be the PM

politics December 25, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

 

THE PRIME MINISTER and a pro-junta political party are on the defensive, amid increased criticism and scrutiny of a pro-junta party in the run-up to the general election.

PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday rejected allegations of nepotism and abuse of power by his former Cabinet member, MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, according to Government Spokesman Buddhipong Punnakanta.

“The prime minister rejects all forms of corruption and he has ordered strict punishment for any wrongdoings, regardless of the wrongdoers,” Buddhipong said. 

“He is not affected by any attempts to malign him and is still determined to serve the country and the people.”

Ads by AdAsia
 

 

Pridiyathorn is a former governor of the Bank of Thailand who had served as deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs in the Prayut government’s first Cabinet.

In a personal post yesterday, Pridiyathorn alleged that Phalang Pracharat Party was set up to pave the way for General Prayut to retain political power. He also accused the government of grabbing an unfair advantage over other political parties by wooing votes using the state budget and handout projects.

Pridiyathorn outlined eight reasons why he did not want General Prayut to return as prime minister after the election. These included the junta chief’s indecisiveness, his aggressiveness and lack of manners. He mentioned that Prayut was once referred to as “a clown” by foreign media.

The government spokesman said yesterday that Pridiyathorn’s allegations were inaccurate due to his mistaken understanding over the matters in his list.

Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday said Pridiyathorn’s allegations were baseless and originated from his “personal dislike” of certain government figures.

“He doesn’t like some people personally,” General Prawit said, adding that the dislike developed after Pridiyathorn left the post-coup government.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) is investigating allegations involving the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat regarding a recent fundraising dinner and the issuance of government welfare cards in exchange for party memberships.

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said yesterday that he expected the results of the investigation to be |available within 30 to 60 days.

Jarungvith said the agency did not discuss the issue related to the welfare card and Phalang Pracharat Party yesterday. However, the investigation is underway with EC deputy secretary-general Dusadee Pornsuksawas looking into the matter, he said.

Because the action could be viewed as evidence in a video clip, the EC could immediately take the matter into its hands without anybody having to file a complaint, Jarungvith said. 

The EC is also looking into a previously reported matter of Phalang Pracharat allegedly collecting people’s ID cards, the official said. 

Regarding the controversial fundraising dinner by Phalang Pracharat, Jarungvith said the party was preparing to clarify the source of the donations. It has 30 days after receiving the money to do so, he added.

General Prayut said yesterday during his visit to Nonthaburi province that welfare cards are issued by the government and not by politicians. He added that there were attempts to portray this project as political.

Earlier, a video clip posted on social media showed people claiming that they had been forced to apply for membership of Phalang Pracharat in order to get their welfare cards, which entitled them to certain handouts and benefits.

Thai Raksa Chart Party’s key figure, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, yesterday said such an act was against the law and was liable to a penalty, including the possibility of the violating party being disbanded.

Prawit said a man who told villagers in Yasothon on Saturday that they needed to apply for membership of Phalang Pracharat to get their welfare cards had been arrested and questioned. “We still don’t know if he is a party figure or a member of an anti-government group,” he told reporters.

Yasothon Governor Nikorn Suksai told a press conference yesterday that this matter could have been caused by a misunderstanding. 

He said officials distributed welfare cards to eligible local residents at a temple in Loeng Nok Tha district on Saturday. On the following day, a political party held its activity at the same location, he added.

“The local EC office is seeking facts about the claim of party membership in exchange for welfare cards,” the governor said.

In a related development, Phalang Pracharat deputy spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana claimed the party has come under attack because it has gained much support from the public due to its attractive policy platforms.

 ...................................................

LABOUR MINISTER Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo
LABOUR MINISTER Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo

Labour minister visits Israeli farming cooperative to check on Thai workers

national December 25, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

LABOUR MINISTER Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo last week visited Moshav, a cooperative farming community in Israel, and threatened to send back Thai workers found to be dependent on alcohol and drugs. He also urged Thais in the town, which is near the Gaza Strip, to be cautious as the area is conflict-ridden.

Adul – along with Labour permanent secretary Jarin Jakkaphak, Department of Employment chief Petcharat Sin-auay and related Thai officials – visited Moshav to check on migrant workers after learning that Thais in Israel were reportedly being taken advantage of. Reports also said the workers’ rights were being violated and they were generally unsafe.

The minister listened to the workers’ problems and inspected their accommodation, which employers recently constructed in response to complaints. 

Citing his talks with Thai workers, Adul said they did not appear to be “so well taken care of by employers” and were living in a “not so nice environment”. However, he admitted, some workers were in trouble with their employers for getting drunk and failing to show up for work the following day. 

Facing deportation

He said that most Thais were |hard workers and that only a few were drunkards, drug abusers or gamblers, hence he has instructed the labour department of the Thai Embassy |in Tel Aviv to keep a close watch on them, and send them back home if they continued misbehaving. 

As for cases in which employers fail to provide workers with benefits, Adul said these workers can ask to change their jobs, adding that the Thai Embassy has also been told to take legal action against employers who break the law and have them blacklisted. 

The minister also gave the workers some gifts to boost their morale. 

Adul said he also met with the Israeli interior minister and was told that the Israeli government has already set up a state fund that required migrant workers’ employers to deposit a sum of money that workers can withdraw from once their contract expires. He said this amount was worth a month’s salary for every year of work.

The minister added that job agencies will also be asked to provide pay slips in Thai, so workers could read them. Meanwhile, the Israeli minister also agreed to consider expanding the quota for Thai workers.

Adul also met Haim Katz, Israel’s labour, social affairs and social services minister, and discussed allegations that Thai workers were being taken advantage of by their Israeli employers who failed to keep up with their end in terms of payment. 

Adul also urged his Israeli counterpart to implement measures to protect workers’ rights, have employers strictly adhere to employment contracts and set up more channels for Thai workers to file complaints. He also asked the authorities to make the punishment for law-violating employers more severe, revoke workers’ quotas for employers who violate the law and tackle the drugs issue. 

..................................................

FINISHED

December 25, 2018

 

 

 


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