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Food around the world
1 Reading
Read the texts about what people around the world eat to celebrate something special. Do you eat any of
these foods in your country?
New Year ____________________________________________________
In China people eat eight, ten or twelve dishes of food at New Year. This is because an even number means
double the luck. A lot of the food at New Year has a special meaning. Seaweed means good luck and long
noodles mean long life. They eat whole vegetables and don’t use knives to cut things, because this means the
end of your good luck.
In Russia there is lots of food on the table so the next year will be happy and plentiful. At 11.59 people open
champagne and wait for the clock to strike twelve. Then they make a toast for the New Year. They wish
everybody good luck and happiness.
In Spain people eat twelve grapes – one with each chime of the clock at midnight. This brings good luck for
the next twelve months. But it is difficult to eat twelve grapes in twelve seconds, so people usually have a
mouth full of grapes at the end!
Weddings ____________________________________________________
Italians eat doughnuts in the shape of bowties for good luck. They also eat sugared almonds when they hope
for a baby.
Many years ago in Britain the father of the bride gave the groom ‘honey mead’ (a honey drink) for a whole
month. In this way the couple had a month of sweetness and happiness. We have now changed the word to
‘honeymoon’ – the holiday a couple goes on after their wedding.
Birthdays ____________________________________________________
When a child is born in China, the father gives red eggs to his friends and family – an even number for a girl
and an odd number for a boy.
The birthday party started in Europe in the Middle Ages. People were afraid of ghosts and bad spirits on their
birthdays. Friends and family came to visit you with presents to stop them.
In Mexico people fill a paper animal with sweets. Children close their eyes and hit the animal until the sweets
fall out. Then everybody eats the sweets.
2 Comprehension
Choose the correct word.
1 In China people eat an even / odd number of dishes of food.
2 In China knives are good / bad luck.
3 In Spain people eat twelve grapes before / after the clock strikes midnight.
4 In Italy sugared almonds are given to / for a baby at weddings.
5 In the Middle Ages people came / didn’t come to your house to stop bad spirits.
6 In Mexico children hit a paper animal with their eyes open / closed .
(page 1 of 2)
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Food around the world
3 Vocabulary
4 Writing
Match the words with their definitions.
Write about how people celebrate New Year,
weddings and birthdays in your country. Do you do
some of the things in the text as well?
1 dish
the noise a clock makes to tell
you what time it is
2 seaweed
the most important woman at
a wedding
3 chime
12 o’clock at night
4 bride
the most important man at a
5 groom
a plate of food which people
6 midnight
green sea plant
(page 2 of 2)
This page has been downloaded from
It is photocopiable, but all copies must be complete pages. Copyright © Macmillan Publishers Limited 2006.
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