a Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre, New York
1. Reading comprehension.
The Christmas Tree Comes To America
Strange as it may seem, the first Christmas tree in America was not for Americans. Instead, the very first Christmas tree was put up by
Hessian soldiers. These soldiers had been hired by England to fight against the colonies during the American Revolutionary War.
When the Christmas season approached, the Hessian soldiers grew homesick for their families and friends, and for the traditional holiday
festivities of their German homeland far across the Atlantic Ocean.
At the time of the Revolutionary War, the Christmas tree had been an established Christmas custom in Germany for over two hundred years.
So it was easy to understand why the homesick Hessian soldiers decided to cut an evergreen for their camp. Even though the tree was
only crudely decorated, it served as a link with the land of their birth.
However great the enjoyment the tree gave the Hessian soldiers, the custom was not quickly adopted by the colonists. In fact, it was not
until about a half century later that Christmas trees made their second appearance in America. Again they were set up by Germans.
It was in 1832 that a German professor at Harvard University decorated a Christmas tree. In 1847, a man in Ohio, who had recently
emigrated from Germany, decided to decorate a Christmas tree for his niece and nephew.
Probably the first Christmas tree set up and decorated for a church congregation in America was accomplished by the Reverend Henry Swan
in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1851. At first some of the members of the congregation objected to the idea, saying that decorating a tree was a pagan
practice. However, their objections were withdrawn after they were told that the evergreen tree had symbolised eternal life to European
Christians for many centuries, and that the lighted candles were representative of the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. Gradually
the Christmas tree was accepted by many Americans.
Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth American president, had the first Christmas tree put up in the White House. This act did much to spread the
Christmas tree custom throughout the nation.
A few years later, just when the White House tree seemed to be well established, the tradition nearly came to a close. Theodore Roosevelt,
who became President in 1901, was noted for his efforts in the conservation of forests. He decided to ban the White House Christmas tree,
hoping thereby to discourage the destruction of young trees. His sons, however, liked the idea of a Christmas tree, and smuggled one into
the White House.
When the President confronted the boys with their "crime", they were defended by Gifford Pinchot, America's first official forester. Mr. Pinchot
convinced the President that the conservation of forests would permit the cutting of young evergreens for Christmas trees. From Mr. Pinchot's
plans came the start of a new industry -
to hire -
American Revolutionary War, 1775-
to adopt -
to emigrate -
church congregation -
to object to -
to ban -
to convince -
1.1. Who brought the first Christmas trees to
America and why?
1.2. What did the Christmas tree mean to those who brought it to America?
1.3. What is the Christmas tree supposed to symbolise?
2. Reported speech.
3.1. - Is Cathie staying at school or is she leaving after this year?
- I don't know exactly, but in all probability she'll leave.
How big are the chances that Cathie will leave school?
3.2. Millions of schoolchildren throughout the world have heard of discoverers like Columbus, Drake, and Cook. Say what discoverers
normally did in the old days.
3.2. Millions of schoolchildren throughout the world have heard of discoverers like Columbus, Drake, and Cook.
Say what discoverers normally did in the old days.