Celebrations and Holidays Conversation Lesson



Watch the following Youtube video clip from the Christmas movie “Elf,” in which a real-life elf working at a department store confronts a fake Santa Clause.


Intro Discussion Questions:

  • Why is the elf so upset?
  • How does Santa react?
  • What do you think of department-store Santas? Did you ever go to one as a kid? Have you taken your kids to one?

New Words

Get-together (n): an informal gathering of friends and family, generally smaller and more informal than a “party.”

  • Example: I’m having a holiday get-together this weekend, and I hope you can come.

Festivities (n): a joyful celebration

  • Example: I didn’t want to miss the New Year festivities at my brother’s house.

Secular (adj.): not religious

  • Example: Unlike Christmas and Chanukah, New Year’s Eve is a secular holiday.

Superstition (n): A belief that isn’t founded in facts or reason

  • Example: Halloween is connected with many old superstitions, like black cats being unlucky.

Commemorate (v): To honor the memory of something though a ceremony or object.

  • Example: International Women’s Day commemorates the achievements of women worldwide.

Gratitude (n): The state of being very thankful and grateful

  • Example: On Thanksgiving, people express gratitude for all the good things in their lives.

Anniversary (n): The yearly recurrence of an important date.

  • Example: The Fourth of July commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Fast (v): To abstain from food on purpose

  • Example: Observant Jews fast on Yom Kippur to reflect on the last year.

Feast (n): A large, extravagant meal eaten to celebrate something

  • Example: On Thanksgiving, a huge feast is prepared and shared by friends and family.

Note about “Holiday:” In American English, “holiday” means special occasion or festive day. In British English, “holiday” means a vacation, or multiple days off from work or school.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is your favorite holiday? How do you celebrate it? Why is it your favorite?
  • What are some holidays that are celebrated in your home country that aren’t celebrated in the US?
  • What are some foreign holidays that people in your country celebrate?
  • Do you like Halloween? Is there a festival in your home country that deals with spirits and spookiness?
  • Do you like Christmas? Is there a festival in your home country that happens around the darkest part of the year?
  • What are your favorite holiday foods?
  • On what holidays do people give gifts to each other in your country?
  • What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
  • What is the best gift you’ve ever given?
  • What is the strangest holiday you’ve ever heard about?
  • Are there any holidays from other cultures that you wish you celebrated?
  • What do you like to do on your birthday?
  • Do you like going to weddings? What is the best wedding you’ve ever been to (including your own.)?
  • What do you think is the most overrated holiday?
  • Do you like Valentine’s Day? Is there a holiday that celebrates romance in your home country?
  • Would you rather travel or stay at home on holidays?
  • Do you get together with your family on holidays? If so, do you find it stressful, enjoy it, or both?
  • Do you find holidays stressful in other ways? Travel/shopping/cleaning/hosting?
  • What are some of your childhood memories of holidays?
  • Do you think holidays are a bigger deal when you have kids?
  • Does the symbolism of any holidays inspire you? Which holidays?