PTA English December Notes -- Christmas Party, with Games

I didn't get these notes done before the end of the year this time, either.
[get ... done => …を済ます(済ませる)]
[before the end of ... => …内]
[this time => 今度]
[either => どちらも、これでも(今度も)]

We met in one of the electives classrooms, to give us more room for the party.
[meet => 集合する (meet met met)]
[one of ... => …の一つ]
[elective => 選択教科]
[more room => (場所などの)余裕]
[to give us more room for ... => …のための余裕ができるように]

We played three word games in English, for practice.
[word game => (しりとりなどのような)言葉遊び]

  • First, we played the game we played last time, "Never have I ever ...."
    [the game {that} we played {the} last time => 先ほどやったゲーム]
  • Then we played a variation of "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John", using numbers instead of books of The New Testament in The Bible.
    [variation => 形を変えたもの]
    [instead of ... => …のかわりに]
  • After that, we played "The Minister's Cat".
    [minister => 牧師、お僧、大臣など]
At the end, we exchanged presents by drawing lots. I should have left more time to talk about the presents, I think. Sorry about that.
[exchange => 交換する]
[drawing lots => くじを引くこと]
[should have ... => …にしたほうが良かった]
[leave time => (予定に)時間をあける]

Never Have I Ever

The rules are in the notes for the previous lesson, but I'll summarize them here:
[summarize => 短くまとめる]

(This game is also on Wikipedia.)
  • Everyone holds up ten fingers.
    [hold up ... => …を上に持つ、出す]
  • Each turn goes like this:
    [turn => 番、当番]
    [... goes like this => こういうふうに行く、こんな感じでやる]
    1. The person whose turn it is tells something he or she has never done:
      [tell => おしえる、話をする] [something ... has never done => …は、やったことごないもの]
      Never have I ever _____.
    2. Everyone who has done that thing folds one finger down.
      [everyone who has ... => …をやったことがあるみな]
    3. Anyone who has folded all ten fingers down is out. 
      [anyone who has ... => …をやったことがあるだれでも]
      [fold down => 下ろす]
      [out => 負けた(状態)]
  • The last person with fingers remaining up wins.
    [fingers remaining up => 指が立ったまま残っている]

The unusual grammar is for emphasis:
[unusual => 変わった、普通ではない]
[grammar => 文法]
[emphasis => 強調]
[=> 珍しい文法は強調のためです。]
  • I have never flown like a bird.
  • I have never ever flown like a cat.
  • Never have I flown like an airplane.
  • Never have I ever flown like a banana.
[fly => 飛ぶ、逃げ去る (fly, flew, flown)]
[coop => かご、おり、小屋 (chicken coop == 鶏小屋)]
[fly the coop => おりを羽ばたいて逃げる]

[put/fold a finger down => 指をおる ("bend"はここではあんまり使わない。)]

helicopter (fly, flew, flown)
Never have I ever flown in a helicopter.
ghost (see, saw, seen)
Never have I ever seen a ghost.
pony [子馬] (ride, rode, ridden)
Never have I ever ridden a pony.
Korea -- day trip (go, went, gone)
Never have I ever gone on a day trip to Korea.
cruise around the world
Never have I ever gone on a cruise around the world.
tequila [テキーラ] (drink, drank, drunk)
Never have I ever drunk tequila.
snowboard (ride, rode, ridden)
Never have I ever ridden on a snowboard.
Never have I ever gone snowboarding.
viola [楽器のヴィオラ] (play)
Never have I ever played the viola.
Never have I ever gone to Aomori.
diamond [ダイヤモンド:(ダイ・モンド)] (buy, bought, bought)
Never have I ever bought a diamond.
Dubai Atlantis Hotel (stay)
Never have I ever stayed at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai.
[Dubai => ドバイ]]
[United Arab Emirates => アラブ首長国連邦]
scuba diving [スキューバ] (go, went, gone)
Never have I ever gone scuba diving.
St. Nick (Saint Nicholas) / Santa Claus (meet, met, met)
Never have I ever met St. Nick.
Never have I ever gone to Iceland.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

This is a group game useful for memorizing lists. The name comes from the list of names of books of the New Testament (in the Bible), which is not easy to memorize. But it can be used for other lists, like numbers in English or Japanese.
[group game => グループで遊ぶゲーム]
[memorize => 覚える、暗記する]
[comes from ... => …由来]
[can be used for ... => …にも使ってもいい]

(This is a simple game. It's a lot easier to play than to explain. If you are not embarrassed to be seen, practice while you read the description. That makes it simple to follow along.)
[easier to play than to explain => 説明するよりはやるのが簡単]
[not embarrassed to ... => …に恥ずかしくない]
[pratice while ... => …しながら練習する]
[description => 描写、説明]
[makes it simple to ... => …をやりやすくする]
[follow along => ついていく]

Everyone should sit in a circle.

The rhythm is counted in four.

The leader should show the rhythm. Clap your hands twice on your knees on one and two, then once together in front of you, then rest:
[clap hands on knees => 膝に手拍子]
[clap on one and two => 1、2に拍子を]
[clap hands together => 手を併せて手拍子]
[in front of ... => …の前に]
[rest on four => 4に音を鳴らさない]
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands), rest. 

After demonstrating the clapping twice or so, have everyone practice the rhythm in unison once or twice.
[in unison => 皆揃って、一致して、同度に]

Now demonstrate the rhythm, saying the first word in the list on the third count, then the second word, then the third, then fourth:
[saying ... => …を唱えて]
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "Matthew", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "Mark", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "Luke", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "John", rest.

If you are doing it with numbers, it will be
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "one", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "two", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "three", rest.
Clap (knees), clap (knees), clap (hands) -- "four", rest.

Then have everyone practice the first part of the list in unison. If the list is hard for some in the circle, you may want to practice the whole list in unison.
[the first part of the list => リストの頭部の何個]
[if ... is hard => …が難しかったら]
[for some => 何人かにとって]
[you may want to ... => …が望ましいかも知らない]
[whole list => リスト全体("whole"と"hole"は同音意義です。)]

Next, have everyone in the circle number off, starting with the leader -- The leader is Matthew, the next person to the right is Mark, the next is Luke, and so on. Or, if using numbers, the leader is one, the person to the right is two, etc.
[have everyone ... => 皆に…をやってもらう]
[number off => 順に追って唱える]
[next to the right => 右の人]

(Or you might use ordinals: "first", "second", "third", etc. Any list of words will work.)
[ordinals => 序数]
[work => 巧く行く、適用できる]
[any will work => どれでもいける]

A list of books of the New Testament (more information here) is as follows:

  1. Matthew [・シュー]
  2. Mark [マーク]
  3. Luke [ルーク]
  4. John [ジョン]
  5. Acts [アックツ]
  6. Romans [ロー・マンズ]
  7. Corinthians (1st & 2nd) [コ・リン・シ・アンズ]
  8. Galatians [ガ・レー・シャンズ]
  9. Ephesians [エ・フィー・ジャンズ]
  10. Philippians [フィ・・ピ・アンズ]
  11. Colossians [コ・ロー・ジ・アンズ]
  12. Thessalonians (1st & 2nd) [・セ・ロー・ニ・アンズ]
  13. Timothy (1st & 2nd) [ティ・モ・シー]
  14. Titus [タイ・タス]
  15. Philemon [フィ・レ・モン]
  16. Hebrews [ヒー・ブルーズ]
  17. James [ジェームズ]
  18. Peter (1st & 2nd) [ピー・ター]
  19. John (1st, 2nd, & 3rd) [ジョン]
  20. Jude [ジュード]
  21. Revelation [・ヴェ・レー・ション]
If you have more than twenty-one in the circle, you can use First and Second Corinthians, etc., but that requires speaking very quickly.
[if more than ... => …より多い場合]
[First Corinthians => コリント人への第一の手紙]
[that requires ... => …が必要]
[quickly => 素早く]

One popular option is starting with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, then shifting to numbers, one, two, etc.:
[popular option => 人気ある別のやり方]
[start with ... => …として初めて]
[shift to ... => …に切り替える]

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, one, two, three, ...

Now that everyone is comfortable with the list and the rhythm you might want to go around the circle one more time, in rhythm, everyone clapping, but only the person whose turn it is speaking his or her own name or number.
[now that ... => …になっていて]
[everyone is comfortable with ... => 皆が…に慣れてきている]
[you might want to ... => …にしてもいいかも知らない]
[go around one more time => もう一回周る]
[in rhythm => 拍子に乗って]
[everyone clapping => 皆拍子を鳴らして]
[person whose turn it is => 順番の人]
[only ... speaking => …のみが唱えて]
[his or her own => 自分の]

Now you are ready for the beginners' level game.
[beginners' level => 初心者のやり方]

The leader starts the rhythm, with everyone clapping. On the third count, he says the name or number of the next person to lead.
[on the third count, he says ... => 3に…を唱える]
[... of the next person => 次の人の…]

Without breaking rhythm, the new leader names the next person to lead, and so on.
[without breaking the rhythm => 拍子を外さず]

When someone misses, everyone stops, and then that person starts the rhythm again.
[when ... misses => …がミスを起こすと]
[that person => (ミスを起こした)その人]

When everyone feels comfortable with the first level, take it up a level. At this level, the leader is not silent on the first two counts, but says his own name or number. :
[take it up a level => レベルをあげる]
[not silent => 黙ってはいない]
[says his own ... => 自分の…を唱える]
Matthew: Clap, "Matthew"; clap, "Matthew"; clap "Mark"; rest.
if Matthew picks Mark to continue.
[picks ... to continue => 続く(人)に…を示す(当てる)]

Then, if Mark picks Acts to continue,
Mark: Clap, "Mark"; clap, "Mark"; clap, "Acts"; rest.
If Acts then picks Philippians, 
Acts: Clap, "Acts"; clap, "Acts"; clap, "Philippians"; rest.
And if Philippians then picks Galations,
Philippians: Clap, "Philippians"; clap, "Philippians"; clap, "Galations"; rest.

Doing that in numbers, 1, 2, 5, 10, 8, ...:
One: Clap, "one"; clap, "one"; clap, "two"; rest.

Two: Clap, "two"; clap, "two"; clap, "five"; rest.

Five: Clap, "five"; clap, "five"; clap, "ten"; rest.

Ten: Clap, "ten"; clap, "ten"; clap, "eight"; rest.
At the next level up, a person who misses the rhythm goes to the end of the circle, and everyone after that person moves up one, taking new names or numbers.
[a person who misses ... => …を外れる人]
[goes to the end => 末尾に移動する]
[everyone after that person => その(拍子を外れた)人の後の人皆]
[moves up one => 一つ頭の方へ]
[taking new names or numbers => 新しい(一の)名前や番号に変えて]

We did a round of using numbers so everyone could get used to it.
[round => 一回り]
[so everyone could get used to it => 慣れていけるように]

I suggested that, if starting from one is too easy, the list could start from eleven.
[suggest => 提案する、勧める]
[the list could start from ... => リストが(1の替りに)…から始まってもいいでしょう]

The Minister's Cat

(This game is also on Wikipedia.)

In Japanese, there is a game called "Taking the Tail", or 「尻取り」 (Shiritori). It's a word association game, where, in each turn, you think of a word that starts with the final (on, loosely, syllabic character, or mora) of the previous word.
[there is ... => …はあるよ!]
[called ... => …という]
[tail => 末尾、尻尾]
[word association => 言葉の関連性]
[in each turn => 交代交代]
[think of ... => …を考えだす]
[starts with ... => …で始める]
[final ... => 末尾の…]
[syllabic > 音節の]
[mora => (かなの)泊、一つのかなの音]

There are English-language word games similar to Shiritori, called Word Chain games, in which you can start the next word with either the last sound or the last letter of the previous word.
[word game => 言葉で遊ぶゲーム、言葉遊び]
[similar to ... => …のような、…に似た]
[chain => 関連、関連性]
[in which ... => …になる、その中に…がある]
[can start with either A or B => A でも B でも始めてもいい]
[start the word with ... => …でその言葉を始める(その言葉が始める)]
[last sound => 最後の音(発音)]
[last letter => 末尾の文字]

There is also a game known as The Minister's Cat, in which you think of words to describe the cat according to their first letter.
[there is also ... => …もある]
[known as ... => …として知られる]
[minister => 牧師、僧、大臣]
[describe => 描写する、(想像できるように)説明する]
[according to ... => …に応じて、…に従って、…と一致して]
[first letter => 頭文字]

There are two versions. In the easy version, the first person says an adjective for the cat that starts with "A", the second thinks of a word that starts with "B", and so on, each player using the next letter of the alphabet in turn.
[easy version => やりやすいやり方、優しいバージョン、簡単版]
[adjective => 描写する語彙、形容詞]
[word that starts with ... => …で始める語彙]
[and so on => など]
[using ... => …をあてて]
[next letter in turn => 交代交代次の文字]

In the harder version, all players think of words that start with "A". When they have gone around the circle, or when no one can think of any more words, they start on words that begin with "B".
[harder => 難い、難しい]
[when they have gone around ... => …を回ったところ]
[no one can think of ... => 誰も…を考え出せない]
[any more ... => これ以上の…]
[start on ... => …でやりだす]

To make the game competitive, players who can't think of a word are out.
[make ... competitive => …を競争的にする]
[who can't think of ... => …を考え出せない]
[are out => 負けたものとする]

We played one round of the easy rules version of this game, in rhythm:

The minister's cat is an amicable cat.
The minister's cat is a brilliant cat.
The minister's cat is a cute cat.
The minister's cat is a dangerous cat.
The minister's cat is an elegant cat.
The minister's cat is a foolish cat.
The minister's cat is a giant cat.
The minister's cat is a happy cat.
The minister's cat is an innocent cat.
(gentle は "j" ではなかった)
The minister's cat is a gentle cat.
The minister's cat is a jealous cat.
The minister's cat is a kind cat.
The minister's cat is a luxurious cat.
(The minister's cat has luxurious fur.)
The minister's cat is a magical cat.
(honest は "o" ではなかった)
The minister's cat is an honest cat.
The minister's cat is an old cat.
The minister's cat is a printed cat.

 [JMR: Actually posted January 2nd, 2017 -- had to preserve links.]


Simplifying Life ch01-2 -- The Serious Constable

(Previous) (TOC) 注釈

"Uhnm, Danielle, ..." Michel stopped as they entered the shade in the little airport's waiting area.


"Would you mind if I pray out loud?"

"I've been praying in my heart."

"So've I, but I'd like to be a little more formal."

"Free-ists do formal things!"

"As you know."

"Yeah, I know. Go ahead. But I want my three minutes, too. It's about noon, anyway."

Across the tarmac, Omega took notice. "They've stopped. What are they doing?"

"The girl says she wants seafood?"

"Mitch is looking down now. Sonofagun. He's praying."

[That's actually a literal translation of the expression of surprise he used. The origins of the expression were pretty blasphemous in their language and culture, too, although nobody really thought about such things there, any more than we do here.]

"It couldn't hurt them."

In his prayer, Michel offered gratitude for their safe arrival and prayed for help, guidance, and protection for both of them for the remainder of the trip.

When he was done, Danielle said, without irony, "Thanks for including me in your prayer," and took a prayer rug from her backpack. She spread it out and knelt on it, and then proceeded to recite her noon prayers.

Beta was also watching at this point. "Prayer rug," she observed, to no one in particular. Then she added, "Their differences in religion don't seem to bother them too much."

"That's a good sign, maybe?" Omega was listening.

"Yeah. but it won't hurt to make sure."

Finishing with her formal prayers, Danielle also added prayer for protection and guidance for both of them, mentioning their families as well.

"And you included my family as well as yours. Thanks."

Danielle stood up and put her prayer rug away. "Didn't think you'd mind. Do we really have to ask each other's permission to pray any more?"

"Well, maybe, but I won't learn about your traditions unless you tell me."

"And I won't understand yours. Good point. So, what do you think we should do?"

"Too bad the airport doesn't have the staff to man the airport radio so we can call Professor Stewart from here. Let's go into town and see if we can find a place where we can call. Might eat something while we're there."

"I'm good with that. And maybe we'll find the constable."

"Maybe so."

They waved and called out to the two pilots, who waved back. Leaving their luggage where it was, they walked through the small airport lobby and out to the road in front. The road stretched straight away from the airport through sparse forest towards a cluster of buildings in the distance.

"The professor said a blue lamp would be an inn, where they'd have a radio. And a white lamp would be a restaurant. Maybe we could try the local cuisine while we're here."

"And a place with on orange lamp would be the constable's office. But there are no buildings closer than two hundred paces. And I don't see any lamps from here."

[Well, that's two-zero-zero base sixteen. 200sixteen -- 512ten. No, they don't have eight fingers on each hand. Just as some of our mathematicians and scientists became enamored of ten, some of their mathematicians and scientists had become enamored of base two a long time in their past, and most of the advanced countries in their world commonly used base sixteen and base eight for ordinary numbers.

Anyway, when I translate something someone in this novel says as "hundred", assume it means 100sixteen (or 256ten) unless I tell you it means 100eight (64ten). I'll try hard to warn you when someone is using base eight. Don't expect base ten, okay?]

"Well, the road leads only one direction, anyway." Danielle pointed towards the cluster of buildings.

"Don't see any taxis, either. I guess we walk."

It was not an unpleasant walk to the village. There was a path through the trees near the road, and the forest there was not too wild.

"This road is beautiful. Tangerine would be jealous."

"I'm sure she would."

"I wish she'd come. Sometimes I think she's jealous of you."

"I don't know why."

"You know."

"Do I, really?"

Danielle looked a little sharply at Michel. "I'm glad we aren't the same race. You're just a tad cold for my comfort, even for a free-ist."

Michel returned her gaze with a questioning expression, then, hearing footsteps ahead of them, looked back towards the path. "Who's that?"

The uniformed man approaching them hailed them by name.

"Forthright Michel? Sagewater Danielle?"

"By whom are we addressed?" Michel asked the protocol question.

The man replied, but not in protocol. "I'm Serious Sirius, the part-time constable here. I'm sorry I'm late. We had some sudden business come up in town." The protocol information was there, buried in the apologies, but it was clear that the islanders had different traditions from Michel and Danielle.

[No, I'm not joking around. He was named after the star we know as Sirius, and his family was known as the Serious family. It rhymed in the local island language, as well, which seems rather too much of a coincidence, but it is what it is. What can I say?]

"Constable Serious?" Both Michel and Danielle were a bit relieved.

Constable Serious showed them his ID. He was one of maybe three people living on the island who carried picture ID, for whatever that's worth.

"Your Professor Stewart asked me to check on you, and make sure you found our vagabond pilots."

"Hah. Vagabond pilots. The professor said they weren't exactly regular. Beta is a woman." Danielle was a little pointed in her tone.

"You've met them, ..."

"We met a rough-looking pair who called themselves Beta and Omega, claimed to know our names, and claimed to be our pilots." Michel took his turn to express a willingness to be corrected. "I'm not sure but they deliberately switched our names around."
"That would be Beta. Her sense of humor sometimes catches you by surprise."

"That's good to know," Danielle observed. "They suggested we get lunch while they pre-flight the plane."

"Typical. They could have had the plane checked over and fueled and waiting for you." Serious paused. "You didn't bring food for the long flight?"

"Sure we brought some. But we want to call the professor. And we could try the local cuisine."

"Great idea. We can arrange that, both the call and the lunch. But I need to talk with your pilots. Actually, if you wait for me, I'll open up the radio shack at the airport, and then I can show you around the town."

"Thanks, it'd help. Uhm, is that okay with you, Michel?"

"It sounds good to me."

Turning around, they looked again at the airport from the outside. The facade was a little overbuilt for the island, but not tastelessly so. From the front, the structure actually blended well into the surrounding jungle.

As they walked, Constable Serious told them about the airport. "At one time, we planned for it to serve ten flights a day. But my fellow islanders are mostly happy traveling by boat. And nobody has been willing to go to the trouble of certifying as a pilot. Well, no one but Beta and Omega, anyway."

Back at the airport, Sirius asked Beta how their fuel would hold up.

"Well enough."

"Can you pick up a woman on the next island over?"

"Beryl." Omega's voice showed concern. "The baby's still in breach?"

"They aren't sure, and she's having difficulty."

"No problem." Beta unbent herself from her examination of the landing gear and went over to the wall. An auxiliary tank hung there, and she took it down and brought it back to the plane. Omega stepped out of the plane and held the tank in place while she latched it down and tied safety straps over it.

"But we'll take some extra fuel to make sure," Omega commented.

Michel spoke up. "I'm a registered nurse back home. I've helped in obstetrics, so I could take a look at the woman if we go there first."

"There would be too many cultural issues, and I am a midwife, myself." Beta was firm in turning him down. "But thanks for the offer."

Omega spoke up. "There's still time to look around the island and try the food. Are you going to open the radio shack for them, Sirius?"


"Tell the Professor it will take about six hours, so we should get there about midnight."

"You've filed the flight plans?"

"Oh yeah."

[You're probably wondering about the time. As a matter of fact, they use hexadecimal for time, as well: Sixteen hours a day -- eight hours from noon to midnight, and eight more from midnight to noon. 

This is convenient, because it means four hours from dawn to noon and four from noon to sunset, at the equinoxes. One hour for them is roughly a quarter of the arc from horizon to zenith.

More about this later.]

In the radio shack, the Constable powered up the rig, set the call tone modulator for their island's key tones, and waited.

Each island had its own filter circuit for a specific set of key tones. The key tones, modulated into the carrier wave, would induce a small current in the receiver filter circuit, just enough to activate a sensitive relay. The relay, in its turn, would release a spring-wound bell alarm, alerting the human operator, if he or she were close enough to hear it.

Just in case, there were three alarms, which could be activated in turn, so you could try three times to raise the operator on the other end. After that, you hoped that the operator would eventually notice the purple flag on any of the alarms, indicated that the alarm had been triggered.

If that failed, there were specific times each day at which the designated radio operators would call each other for news.

Fortunately, Professor Stewart was waiting on their island, and responded immediately. Constable Serious told him the two students had arrived in good order, and that their estimated time of arrival at the island would be midnight. When the students had chatted briefly with their professor, they signed off, powered their rigs down, and wound and reset the alarms.

Again, they waved to the pilots as they left the airport with Constable Serious.

Copyright 2016, Joel Matthew Rees

Table of Contents (Next)
(No annotations yet.) (Japanese, someday?)


Christmas Notes -- When Was Jesus' Birthday?

Makoto: Thanks for picking me up at the airport.

Tom: Oh, sure.

Makoto: Say, I heard something strange on the airplane.

Tom: Yeah?

Makoto: A woman behind me was telling the little girl beside her that nobody knows when Jesus' birthday really was.

Tom: Well, that's true. We don't.

Makoto: I thought it was December the twenty-fifth.

Tom: That's the date of a number of non-Christian winter festivals, actually.

Makoto: Then why is Christmas on December twenty-fifth?

Tom: It's a long story.

Makoto: No short version?

Tom: Hmm. Okay, for starters, you know that we don't have any hard evidence that the Biblical Jesus actually existed.

Makoto: I've heard that, but I thought it was just atheist arguments.

Tom: An atheist doesn't think it's just argument. At least, some of my atheist friends seem to be sincere about it.

Makoto: What about the shrines over in Jerusalem?

Tom: Well, what about Japan's traditional history back around Jimmu?

Makoto: Okay. No evidence for that, either. But I always thought you guys had harder evidence. I mean, you believe in Jesus, don't you?

Tom: Well, you don't have to believe all the stories told about the Boddhisatva are true to believe there was an original Gautama, do you?

Makoto: I guess you have a point there.

Tom: Anyway, soon after most of the apostles were martyred, there was some discussion about having a celebration for Jesus' birthday. There does seem to be evidence of those discussions.

Makoto: But they didn't know when?

Tom: According to some interpretations, it was thought that the date was suppressed to avoid the celebrations.

Makoto: By the enemies of the Church?

Tom: By the Church leaders. Such celebrations easily turn idolatrous.

Makoto: Wow. But, so Christmas shouldn't exist? What happened?

Tom: Whether Christmas should exist or not is another question, but what happened was a Roman emperor named Constantine.

Makoto: Sounds like someone from Star Wars.

Tom: Heh. Whether he was a good guy or bad guy is still a subject of debate. But Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire about then. And the early Christ Mass mostly began during his reign as emperor.

Makoto: I think I see. So how about the date?

Tom: Those who seemed to know most about it at the time argued for a date in spring -- March or April.

Makoto: That would double up on Easter, wouldn't it?

Tom: There were apparently some who worried about that.

Makoto: How about now?

Tom: Late August or early September are favored theories these days.

Makoto: No midwinter?

Tom: Some did and do argue for for December. But, apparently, they wanted to borrow an existing festival -- horn in on another religion's holiday.

Makoto: Another religion?

Tom: Druidism and the pre-Christian religions of the area, and the Roman worship of the Sun God among others. Lots of religions seem to have some sort of festival just a few days after winter solstice.

Makoto: Son God?

Tom: The sun in the sky, shining down on you, sometimes dies. He is reborn three days after solstice.

Makoto: Winter solstice? Three days after the twenty-second would be the twenty-fifth.

Tom: Yeah.

Makoto: So is that the reason you're not very big on Christmas? My sister sometimes calls you a Scrooge.

Tom: Bah! Humbug! Heh. No, we just don't have much money yet. The boutique isn't doing very well, and we both have to work a lot of part-time jobs.

Makoto: Yeah. Small fashion stores are subject to the winds of fashion.

Tom: And I forget, and she waits for me. That's the real reason we came to visit my family this year, so I wouldn't forget.

Makoto: Well, hey, I'm looking forward to meeting your family. Mom said she was jealous when I left.

Tom: Dad says he thinks he and Mom can make it to Japan next Christmas, and some of my sisters are talking it up as a family reunion over there.

Makoto: That'd be sweet.


A Christmas Quiz

Nativity, by Botticelli, from Wikimedia
1: What is Christmas? (Choose the best answer.)
  1. It is the Easter Bunny's birthday.
  2. It is Santa Claus's birtday.
  3. It is Saint Nicholas's birthday.
  4. It is the birthday of Jesus Christ.
  5. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

 2. When is Christmas?
  1. It's on December the 24th.
  2. It's on December the 25th.
  3. It's on January 1st.
  4. It's on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

3. When is Christmas Eve?
  1. It's on December the 24th.
  2. It's on December the 25th.
  3. It's on December 31st.
  4. by Jorge Barrios, from Wikimedia
  5. It's on the first Saturday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

4: What is the meaning of the Christmas tree?
  1. It represents eternal life.
  2. It means different things to different people.
  3. It was borrowed from ancient Germanic and Druid traditions.
  4. It is a place to put presents under.
  5. All of the above. 

5: When was Jesus Christ born?
  1. He was born on December the 25th.
  2. He was born on April 6th.
  3. He was born on January 6th.
  4. He was born in August or September.
  5. People do not agree about when he was born.
Leaf disc dedicated to Sol Invictus
in holdings of the British Museum
image from WikiMedia

6: Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25th?
  1. The date was calculated from assumptions about events in the Bible.
  2. The date was borrowed from a religion that worshiped a sun god born on December 25th.
  3. It was chosen because it was close to winter solstice.
  4. The Roman Emperor declared it to be the official birthday of Jesus Christ.
  5. (A), (B), and (C) above.

Iced Christmas Cake
by Martin Belam
from Wikimedia

7: What does "Christmas" mean?
  1. It's the name of a kind of cake.
  2. It means we must remember Saint Nicholas.
  3. It is the "mass", or solemn festival of Jesus Christ.
  4. It means Jesus' birthday. 
  5. It's how much a fir tree weighs.
  6. It means, "Fir trees must increase."

St. Nicholas
from Saint Catherine's Monastery
via Wikimedia

8: Who brings presents to children in December?
  1. Santa Claus does.
  2. The Christ Child does.
  3. Father Christmas does.
  4. Saint Nicholas does.
  5. Sinterklaas does.
  6. All of the above.

9: When is Christmas in Australia and New Zealand?
  1. In fall.
  2. In winter.
  3. In spring.
  4. In summer.
  5. In autumn.
  6. All year long.

10: What do Americans do on Christmas Eve?
  1. Go on dates with their special girlfriends or boyfriends.
  2. Visit the families of their special girlfriends or boyfriends.
  3. Go to Church for religious services.
  4. Go to Church for a Christmas party or dance.
  5. Stay home with their families.
  6. Work overtime.
  7. Different people do different things at different times.



1: (E). See #5.

2: (B), although it varies in some traditions.

3: (A). (The evening before Christmas.)

4: (E). Fir trees are common elements of many religions and traditions, but had no particular meaning in early Christianity.

5: (E). There is no record of the actual date. According to some people, the accounts in the Bible indicate a date in late summer or early fall. Other people suggest a date in spring. The arguments for winter are considered rather weak.

6: (E). Although there is no record of the date, there are many records of arguments about the date, and of the official declaration of the state religion by Emperor Constantine.

7: (C): "Christ Mass".

8: (F).
  1. Santa Claus is a common tradition around the world.
  2. The Christ Child (Christkind) is a German and Austrian tradition.
  3. Father Christmas is a tradition in the UK.
  4. Saint Nicholas is a tradition in much of Europe, and the origin of Santa Claus.
  5. Sinterklaas is a tradition in Holland and Belgium. The red suit he wears is the origin of Santa's red suit.
  6. There are many more similar traditions in many countries.
9: (B). December is summer in the southern hemisphere. However, some people do try to remember the Christmas spirit all year long.

10: (G). The most common thing is to try to spend time with family.

PTA English December Topic -- Christmas, of Course

Well, it goes without saying that we will talk about Christmas.

We plan for a present exchange, so please bring an inexpensive gift. Please don't spend more than ¥1,000 on it.

Of course, homemade (handmade) is fine!

Unfortunately, I haven't had time to make anything, so I'll bring something cheap.

[homemade/handmade: 自家製、手作り]

And it looks like we'll repeat the parlor game we tried last time. (The notes for the last lesson are here.)

If I have time, I'll introduce a Christmas themed parlor game or two.
(Nothing but games. :-)
The notes for December 2016's Christmas party are finally up.
Sorry it took so much time. Maybe we played too many games.



I put together a Christmas quiz of sorts in English. I don't know yet if I'll use it in class.



Here's a little dialog about the date of Christmas that I started last year and finished today:


I posted a very few notes on Christmas a few years ago, here.


Finally got the Christmas notes from last year up. Sorry it took so long. And you might be interested in the errata about winter solstice.