The History of Holidays (text for advanced)

This newspaper article is recommended for reading for advanced leaners. From the article you will know many interesting facts from the history of holidays. If you have intermediate level, learn the words:

  1. provide sb with — давать что-либо (предоставлять, обеспечивать)
  2. dedicated to smth — быть посвященным чему-либо
  3. benefit from  —  получать пользу от
  4. result in — приводить к
  5. be introduced  — были введены в практику (учреждены)

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From the History of Holidays (a newspaper article)

Holidays are good for us because they provide us with new interests, new outlets for our energies, a break from work, and, for some, a chance to rest.

For centuries in Britain a holi­day was simply a Holy Day, usually dedicated to one of the saints, on which no work was done. If the weather was fine, everyone trooped out of town (usually in those days only a few minutes’ walk) to the fields for archery, wrestling or dancing. Villagers met on the village green.

If the text is difficult for you, you can read an easier text on the topic «Travelling» — Hunting for treasure

In Britain the early travellers were usually lawyers and judges on their circuits, young men going to university or to seek their fortune in a city, officials of the King, or strolling players. Most ordinary people lived all their lives without going more than a mile or two from home.

In the 17th century the fashion for visiting the health resorts, called spas, began. These spas were towns noted for the healing properties of their local spring water.

At first it was only sick people who went «to take the waters», but then the idea spread that everyone could benefit from their healing powers. Then a lot of people went and the spas became fashionable holiday re­sorts.

The  popularity of the  spas reached its height in the 18th century. In 1834 the many odd Holy Days were exchanged by law for four occasions each year called Bank Holidays, because the banks shut then.

Until the middle of the last century it was only the wealthy who were able to go away for holidays and it was not until the railways had been established that what we know as holiday travel became possible.

Holidays for all were in­conceivable on the grounds of expense. Only the social wor­kers and some enlightened journalists, such as Charles Dickens, realized that working people could not continue to live in unrelieved wretchedness and squalor without it affecting the morale of the nation as a whole.

Then there began a movement towards better conditions of work and pay. This eventually resulted in more people being able to take holidays at their own expense; and later still there came the idea of holidays with pay — i. e., that people should get fixed holidays from their jobs and be paid their ordinary wages for the time they were away.

It took almost another century before holidays with pay actu­ally arrived, but in the meantime more and more of the middle classes were not only going on holiday, but were beginning to travel.

Having popularized cheap holiday travel in Britain, Tho­mas Cook began to develop travel abroad, making arrange­ments with railway companies and steamship lines abroad similar to those he had nego­tiated at home. In 1867 he organized a tour to America and in 1872 a trip round the world.

The demand for foreign travel grew and attracted  others into the business; the holiday habit was growing, and the reasons for taking a holiday were undergoing yet another change. At the end of the century it was historical curiosity that drove people to Italy and desire to see really big mountains that took them to Switzerland. The liter­ature of the period reflects the general yearning for the past that obsessed the literate clas­ses. Roman ruins, the treasures of the Renaissance, Gothic churches, were on everyone’s sightseeing list, as were mighty chasms, towering mountains, and gloomy woods.

By the beginning of the present century the idea of holidays with pay for all work­ing people had begun to be accepted by politicians, but it was not till 1925 that a Bill for compulsory holidays with pay was introduced for the first time in the House of Commons; and it was not until after the 1939-45 war that holidays with pay became universal.

After reading the text, answer the questions:

  1. Why are holidays good for us?
  2. What were holidays like in the old days?
  3. Who were the early travellers in Britain?
  4. What towns have became fashionable holiday resorts? Why do many people go there in our days?
  5. Who were able to travel in the past?
  6. What kind of transport made travelling more common?
  7.  When were holidays with pay introduced? What did it result in?

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