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Smalltalk auf Englisch - Alle Jahre wieder

Schlagwörter: smalltalk, englischlernen, OWAD, Business English, Smalltalk auf Englisch

Alle Jahre wieder

Those who speak English as a second language often learn that Christmas is uniformly celebrated in the English-speaking world. That except for a few superficial differences — for example, saying ‘Happy Christmas’ in the UK versus ‘Merry Christmas’ in the US — people in North America and on the British Isles experience Christmas the same way.

But that’s just the way things look on the surface.

Christmas in the US

With visions of National Lampoon’s Christ mas Vacation ( S c h ö n e B e s c h e r u n g ) in mind, the world usually recognizes the US as the one place on Earth where Christmas is taken to the nth degree. Every city has a giant tree, and lights and decorations hang across the main streets of nearly every town. The shops are decorated to the nth degree, too: each has its own tree and plays Christmassy background music in the shopping area, in the elevators, and even in the toilets.

In residential neighbourhoods, houses are lit up like the Las Vegas Strip. Some are even equipped with loudspeakers trumpeting the Christmas crooning of Las Vegas personalities of the past like Elvis Presley ( Blu e C h ris t m a s ) and Dean Martin ( It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ) up and down the streets and out into space for the entertainment of the far-flung civilizations of Andromeda. Clark Griswold’s house in Christmas Vacation was no joke.

The visual stimulation doesn’t end in the real world. Every year, Hollywood releases a new crop of Christmas adventures designed to help Americans feel the magic of Christmas before the big day comes. Adults and children pour into movie theatres and turn on their televisions to watch the latest animated talking-animal Christmas adventures and variations of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol: • Bugs Bunny’s A Christmas Carol

A Sesame Street Christmas Carol

The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol

Thomas & Friends: Diesel’s Ghostly Christmas ( Diesel plays the role of Scrooge )

A Flintstones Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol

In the US, television has become an especially important part of the Christmas tradition, and nearly every popular television series has one or more Christmas specials and sometimes even its own version of A Christmas Carol .

But the Scrooge story isn’t the only one getting focus. Every year, children insist on watching a variety of old, animated favourites, all of which were made in the 1960s and 70s:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Little Drummer Boy

Santa Claus is Coming to Town • Frosty the Snowman

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Year without a Santa Clause

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas , based on the children’s book by Dr Seuss, is itself another variation on the Scrooge story. This time, however, it isn’t the ghosts of Christmas that soften up the old man, but rather the ‘Whos’ — beings who seem to live for nothing other than Christmas, and who, like most Americans, like to take Christmas to the nth degree. The Grinch hits the nail on the head when he says:

“And they’ll sing! And they’ll sing! And they’ll SING! SING! SING! SING!” And the more the Grinch thought of this Who Christmas Sing, The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”

For adults, Christmas isn’t Christmas without having watched Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, and Bob Clark’s 1983 A Christmas Story with Darren McGavin. A Christmas Story , which documents the 1950s childhood Christmas dreams of nine-year-old Ralphie’s longing for ‘a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and “this thing which tells time”’, is such an obligatory part of the American Christmas tradition that one of Ted Turner’s cable channels, usually TBS or TNT, runs an A Christmas Story marathon every year beginning at 8pm on Christmas Eve. The film is shown back-to-back twelve times in a row, just to make sure no one misses it.

One interesting point is that the Christmas of most Americans — the feeling for Christmas one feels inside — is stuck in the 1950s. From Bing Crosby songs to Ralphie, the romanticized, perfect Christmas originated over 60 years ago and has a dreamy, old-fashioned sound. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and Have Yourself a Merry Lit tle Christmas are the sounds of Christmas that make every American think of his or her childhood and yearn to be home. The need to experience the perfect Christmas every year is strong. For most Americans, Christmas is therefore serious. It’s not something to be played around with or joked about. If the ‘process’ is not executed perfectly, Christmas itself may not be, well, perfect.

When Christmas Day is over, the celebration ends. The 26th is a day like any other. The decorations remain — suddenly tacky and devoid of meaning. Television returns to normal and the excitement evaporates into the heavens, joining Blue Christmas and the singing of Whos to float through the cosmos.

In the UK

While Americans are celebrating Christmas to the nth degree, their British comrades appear to be enjoying a more subdued Christmas experience. Controlled, tasteful, and civilized, as one would expect of the British. But here, too, looks are deceiving.

To understand what Christmas means to the average British citizen, you have to consider that Britain has no Thanksgiving, which is America’s biggest eating day. In addition, having not been occupied by any foreign power since 1066 (when it was conquered by the French Normans), Britain has no Independence Day, which is America’s mostloved big-bang event. Aside from a number of smaller holidays and celebrations — the most exciting of which is Easter — the British have, in comparison with the Americans, little. So when the Christmas season comes, it comes with its own big bang.

But the bang is not, as in America, pronouncedly visual. For the British, Christmas runs deep. This is most likely because the inhabitants of the British Isles have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for thousands of years. The pagans, the Romans, the Vikings, and the Normans all had customs that have been woven together into the feeling for Christmas Britons understand today. It’s a complex tapestry of historical tradition that leads to the Christmas feeling people in Britain hope to capture.

In line with tradition, Christmas decorations are everywhere, but not covering every surface, and certainly not adorning every house. Instead, the experience is emotional. There is a need to feel Christmas deeply in the weeks leading up to the big day — the 25th — when the biggest meal of the year is eaten and Christmas crackers — a kind of indoor snapping firework — are popped.

Unlike their American friends across the sea, however, the British do not focus on re-capturing a perfect Christmas defined in the past. For the British, it’s self-understood that the Christmas of the past, present, and future are all bound together. Perhaps this is one reason why Dickens’ ghosts of Christmas are such strong characters.

Instead, the British are looking for fun — often irreverent fun. Think of it as a cross between the fireworks of the American Independence Day and the silliness of Fasch ing fused into an event built on a foundation of warm fuzziness. In the UK, Christmas is therefore a complex experience. The way to the ‘right’ Christmas feeling is tricky to find. To make things easier, the British turn to television too — even more so than Americans.

According to a poll conducted by the Daily Mail , nearly 60% of Brits say that Christmas Day television watching is the most important part of the holidays. Only 8%said they would be going to church. 67% said they wouldn’t be going to a church service at any time during the Christmas season. In the past, watching the Queen’s Speech on the 25th was a mainstay of British tradition. In the poll, however, only 16% of participants said they planned to tune in to Her Majesty. Another poll conducted by the International Business Times found that the average Brit will watch fifteen hours of television programming on mobiles and tablets during the Christmas season.

So what will everyone be watching? As you might expect, a mixture of the traditional and the irreverent. These favourites are repeated year after year:

• The 1982 animated short The Snow man , in which a snowman built by a young boy comes to life and leads him through numerous adventures, during which Father Christmas gives the boy a blue scarf. The next day, the boy finds the snowman has melted, but then finds the scarf in his pocket, at which point the boy — as well as any emotionally overwrought person who happens to be watching — breaks down in tears.

• The Christmas specials of various soap operas and other famous series from the past, e.g. Doctor Who, Lark Rise to Candleford, Wallace and Gromit, Blackad der ( doing his own Christmas Carol ) , and Downton Abbey . The Christmas special from the series Father Ted ( priests get lost in a lingerie department ) reflects the level of silly irreverence Brits love.

Top of the Pops , a review of the most popular music in the UK.

Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews

What the British really enjoy on the telly at Christmas, however, is the focus on film. Like in the US, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and A Muppet Christmas Carol are all-time favourites, but a number of other non-Christmas-themed films have become regular fare. These are shown marathon-style like A Christmas Story in the US:

• The Harry Potter films

• The Star Wars films

• The Indiana Jones films

Independence Day

• The Pink Panther films

• The James Bond films

• The Pirates of the Caribbean films

In comparison with the US, Christmas in the UK is modern, but not quite as modern as the films on the telly. The clue is in the music. While people in the US listen to singers from the 1950s and 60s, during this time, the UK was still rebuilding from the war. It wasn’t until the 70s that British culture had recovered, and it is music from the 70s and 80s that will make any Brit anywhere think of home:

“Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues ( 1987 )

• “Merry Xmas Everybody” by Slade ( 1973 )

• “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid ( 1989 )

• “Merry Christmas Everyone” by Shakin’ Stevens ( 1985 )

“Last Christmas” by Wham! ( 1984 )

“Walking In The Air” by Aled Jones ( music from The Snowman , 1982 )

In Britain, unlike in the US, the celebrations don’t end the day after Christmas. The 26th is known as Boxing Day. The tradition on this day is to box up clothing and other articles to give to the needy, but Boxing Day is really just a continuation of the Christmas celebration. This is not just the day leftovers are brought to the table and all remaining Christmas crackers are pulled: it’s the biggest shopping day in the UK. The Christmas television traditioncontinues with more films as well, and these keep going through New Year’s, when fireworks help the season end with a big bang.

Schlagwörter: smalltalk, englischlernen, OWAD, Business English, Smalltalk auf Englisch

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