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The Twenty First of December



The countdown is now in the fever pitch stage, as the Chrimbo juggernaut hurtles ever closer we arrive at one the most significant days in the lead up to Christmas itself, The Winter Solstice.


The Solstice Quarter Final is the traditional final quarter final of the round, with two previous winners Scrooged and It's A Wonderful Life up against each other for a berth against Die Hard in the semi final. Vote here!


December 21


The Winter Solstice

The 21st of December marks the shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. There are many cultures that celebrate this event, but even if you are not one of them, you can still rejoice at the fact that you have reached the deepest moment of winter and from here on in are heading toward the light and warmth of spring.


  • The British Council have provided an hour long lesson plan for Primary learners at A2+ here.

  • Onestopenglish produced a lesson plan for Adults B2-C1 available here.

  • Really Learn English have a reading comprehension exercise here.


Yule

On the longest night pre Christian traditions celebrated the turning toward light. Yule was the celebration of the Holly King handing over power to the Oak King and the incoming season of light. The earliest recorded celebrations of Yule are around 4 AD in what is now Germany. The word Yuletide for the Christmas period is first noted in 1475. The Etymology of Yule is discussed in the Interesting Etymologies Christmas Special here.


Phileas Fogg win a wager day

We can always rely upon our Colonial Cousins to provide us with some absurd and fun observations, and this is no exception!


This is the date upon which Phileas Fogg must complete his round the world in eighty days challenge


  • ESL Bits have provided an extraordinary compete abridged audio book and text of the Jules Verne classic, available here.

  • To Learn My English have a beautiful interactive chapter by chapter activity stream available here.

  • ESL Printables provide a wealth of activity and worksheets related to the novel here.


Humbug Day

Created by Thomas and Ruth Roy, this entitles everyone to 12 free Humbugs on this day alone, to relieve the stress of the festive period.


Humbug is a word used to underplay the relevance of a person or an event. At first, it was just student slang used as a joke. But it became a catchphrase after Charles Dickens used it in his book titled “A Christmas Carol.” The character of Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser who doesn’t celebrate the Christmas holiday.


The character is famous for retorting “Bah, Humbug!” at anyone who shows Christmas cheer. This could be put to good use with adults or children alike as a fun activity in class as an entry point to A Christmas Carol and Scrooge.


National Crossword Puzzle Day (U.S)

The first crossword puzzle was published by Arthur Wynne in the New York World Newspaper on this day in 1913. If ever you needed the perfect excuse to give your students a crossword puzzle, today is the day!


National Short Girl Appreciation Day (U.S)

Yes, another barmy U.S festival. Let the small ladies in your life know you care, bring a booster seat, or walk around on your knees. It is for a good cause!


December 21st in History


Events

  • 1361 – The Battle of Linuesa is fought in the context of the Spanish Reconquista between the forces of the Emirate of Granada and the combined army of the Kingdom of Castile and of Jaén resulting in a Castilian victory.

  • 1620 – Plymouth Colony: William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims land on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

  • 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the world's first full-length animated feature, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

  • 1988 – A bomb explodes on board Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, killing 270. This is to date the deadliest air disaster to occur on British soil.

Births

  • 1915 – Werner von Trapp, Austrian-American singer (d. 2007)

  • 1937 – Jane Fonda, American actress and activist

  • 1940 – Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (d. 1993)

Deaths

  • 1945 – George S. Patton, American General (b. 1885)


Christmas films


NYPD cop John McClane visits his wife in Los Angeles for Christmas when he becomes embroiled in a hostage situation at her workplace...


One of the greatest Christmas Films of the modern era or a pretender muscling in on a genre it has no right to be a part of? An age old debate. There is no doubt that Alan Rickman is a sheer delight in his Hollywood break out role as Hans Gruber and the enjoyable romp is has very few honest cynics.


Group D First Seed - 2018 Champion and twice defeated finalist. Without doubt the strongest performer in cup history and already booked into the semi final in the 2022 championships.





Christmas music


The delightful and unexpected combination of David Bowie and Bing Crosby produced one of the most wonderful twists on a classic Christmas song with Bowie producing a melodic descant style line that drifts over the Crosby croon of The Little Drummer Boy. This is perfect for mulled wine and pyjamas evenings in the countdown to Christmas.



Probably most famous for being used over the opening credits of the 1980s film Gremlins, "Christmas, Baby please come home" by Darlene Love is one of the outstanding slices of gold from the Phil Spector Christmas album. A joyful yet heart wrenching song of lost love at Christmas with a stunning sound. What a tune!



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