Background

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15th, 1929. His father was a clergyman, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and his mother was Alberta Williams King.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was an excellent student. He entered college at the age of 15 years. He was interested in history, literature, sociology and public speaking. He studied black history, religion and theology. He received his doctor of philosophy degree from Boston University.

He became a minister and married Coretta Scott. They had four children. He was the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Martin Luther King worked to end segregation of black people. He also became a leader of the human rights movement.

He believed in non-violent methods. In 1963, he gave one of his most famous speeches, "I Have a Dream," in front of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C. That day he led a peace march of 250,000 people. They wanted to ensure the rights of the Constitution to all people in the United States.

He became famous and was loved and respected by many people all around the world. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Martin Luther King died at the age of 39 years. He was killed by an assassin, James Earl Ray. It was a very sad day for the American people and the world.

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3. St. Valentine’s Day (14 February) (2557)

St. Valentine's Day roots in several different legends that have found their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbols of the day is Cupid, the Roman god of Love, who is represented by the image of a young boy with bow and arrow.

Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signing it, "from Your Valentine". Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, wrote notes from his jail cell to children and friends who missed him.

Whatever the odd mixture of origins, St. Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day that you show your friend of loved one that you care. You can send candy to someone you think is special. Or you can send "valentines" a greeting card named after the notes that St. Valentine wrote from jail. Valentines can be sentimental, romantic, and heartfelt. They can be funny and friendly. If the sender is shy, valentines can be anonymous. Americans of all ages as other people in different countries love to send and receive valentines. Handmade valentines, created by cutting hearts out of coloured paper, show that a lot of thought was put into making them personal. Valentines can be heart-shaped, or have hearts, the symbol of love, on them. In elementary schools, children make valentines; they have a small party with refreshments. You can write a short rhyme inside the heart:

There are gold ships

And silver ships,

But no ships

Like friendship.

Valentine cards are usually decorated with symbols of love and friendship. These symbols were devised many centuries ago. Lace symbolises a net for catching one's heart. If you get a Valentine with a piece of a lace you may understand that the person who sent it must be crazy about you. A symbol should have several meanings, so some experts maintain that lace stands for a bridal veil.

A ribbon means that the person is tired up, while hearts, which are the most common romantic symbol, denote eternal love. Red roses are also often used as a love emblem.

Valentine's Day grows more and more popular in many countries of the world. Some people have already begun to celebrate it in Russia. They try to imitate European Valentine customs and want to know more about their origin.

St. Valentine's Day is the day when boys and girls, friends, neighbours, sweethearts, husbands and wives exchange greeting of love and affection. It is the day to share one's loving feelings with friends and family, but it is young men and girls who usually wait it with impatience. This day has become traditional for many couples to become engaged. That makes young people acknowledge St. Valentine's as the great friend and patron of lovers.

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4. St. Patrick’s Day (17 March) (2361)

Many people who immigrated to the United States have come from Ireland. Today, it is said, Irish descendants in the United States put on a noisier and bigger St. Patrick's Day celebration that the people in Ireland. Every year on March 17 or the preceding Saturday, cities with a large population of Irish Americans have parades. Green is one of the national colours of Ireland and also one of the sings of spring. Green stripes are painted on the streets where the parade will travel. People wear green shirts, ties, hair ribbons and hats.

Just like many other holidays in the United States, St. Patrick's Day has its origins in ancient times. A young boy named Patrick lived in the British Isles, a land that had been invaded and conquered first by the Romans and then by Germanic tribes. Patrick was captured and taken as a slave from the British Isles to what is now Ireland. He was a religious boy, and he prayed that he would come someday to its homeland.

Legend said that one night while he was praying, a voice told him to escape from the farm, and find a ship that was waiting for him in a harbour two hundred miles away. Patrick got to the ship, sailed to Europe, and disembarked in what is now probably France. He led several of the ship's crew through a dangerous forest, praying all the time. Neither Patrick not any member of his crew was captured. When some of the men were about to die of starvation, wild animals appeared for them to eat. Events such as these appeared to be miracles and gave rise to later legends surrounding Patrick. Finally finding his way home, Patrick felt that he was called by God to perform an important mission. He believed it was his duty to go back to Ireland and convert the Celtic people to the Christian religious. Patrick arrived in Ireland and became a missionary, travelling from village to village and talking about his faith. Once, several members of a tribe approached Patrick and told him that they found it difficult to understand and believe in the Holy Trinity. Patrick thought a moment, then stooped down and picked one of the plentiful shamrocks growing wild around Ireland. Imagine the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as each of these leaves. The tribesmen understood, because Patrick had used a familiar object to explain. From that time the shamrock has been a revered symbol of Ireland.

Stories of Saint Patrick, for by then he was a saint, reached far and wide. His most famous feat is forcing the snakes out of the entire country of Ireland. Even though there are many different stories about how he accomplished such a task, it is probably not true. Patrick became the patron saint of Ireland. Mourning turned to commemorating him and celebrating his life. Americans have inherited this custom. On St. Patrick's Day in the United States, millions of people celebrate whether they are Irish or not.

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