Talking about special days and celebrations

It is common in the IELTS speaking test to be asked to talk about special days or celebrations, so here are some model answers that will give you a guideline for a good result. The list below is based on special days or celebrations in New Zealand, but this is where we’d love your help – if you post a paragraph below about a special day or celebration in your country, we will read it, make any changes if required to the grammar or structure and post it on this page.

ANZAC Day (New Zealand and Australia)

Well, it’s a special day but it’s not really a celebration – it’s more of a ceremony. Anyway, it’s in late April, on the 25th. It’s the same day in both Australia and New Zealand. It starts early in the morning when all the ex-service people walk to the nearest war memorial. They often wear all their old medals and their best suits. It can look really impressive.

Labour Day (New Zealand)

This holiday was first celebrated in 1890, but wasn’t officially recognised until 1900. It marked the beginning of new conditions for employees – working hours were reduced, unions were formed and working conditions slowly improved. People don’t really do anything special to celebrate the day, but it gives you time to think about how hard life must have been then.

Waitaingi day (New Zealand)

It’s one of the most controversial public holidays in New Zealand. It commemorates the time when the British government signed a treaty with most of the Maori chiefs over 150 years ago. I don’t know much about it but I do know that a lot of people still argue about it. Actually, in the 1970s it became known as New Zealand Day but soon changed back to its original name.

Christmas Day (New Zealand and many other countries)

Version 1:
In New Zealand, the most important holiday is probably Christmas. It’s the time of the year when families try to get together, or at least send cards to say hello. On Christmas Day a lot of people have barbecues, either on the beach or in their gardens. Most places are closed for the day, and most people have their longest holiday of the year around this time. Office workers, for example, often don’t go back to work until the beginning of the New Year.

Version 2 (thanks Muyiwa!):
My favorite special day is Christmas, which is on the 25th of December every year. I love this day for a whole lot of reasons. Firstly, I don’t have to go to work but I still get get paid!! Also, I live in a very busy city but by Christmas day most people have traveled out of town, thereby reducing traffic by over 90%. This in turn makes driving around town on a day like this so much more enjoyable, especially as I get to do a lot of visiting. Not only is it easy to get to where I’m going, but there is always lots of exotic food in my friends and family houses.

Birhtdays (Almost everywhere on the planet!)

Well, people in New Zealand, as in most Western countries, like to celebrate birthdays, but often only for younger people. Once you start getting older you don’t want to be reminded of another passing year! Anyway, a lot of people go out to the pub, or stay at home and have a party. Sometimes a surprise party is organised. People send cards for your birthday, but normally just close friends or family give gifts. It’s common to have a birthday cake with a candle for every year – you have to blow the candles out in one breath if you want to make a wish!

Indonesian Independence’s Day

Thanks Yuli for this contribution!

Indonesian people, adults, children, and toddlers, who live not only in the area of the Republic of Indonesia but also abroad, celebrate Independence’s Day on 17th August by having a party with games. People who win the game will get a prize from the committee. Adults in a team usually play a game where they climb a tree to find some precious gifts. Mothers often focus on cooking. Children draw or balance a marble on a spoon while running. Teenagers play simple but fun sports. Everything is decorated in red and white. There are many flags, fliers, banners, and balloons, all of which are of course in red and white. Before the event, people usually paint their fence and surroundings with these colours too. They also usually make a beautiful gate in front the complex of the house. Every year, many people look forward to this event because it makes them happy.

 

Easter

Thanks Oksana for this contribution!

Easter is celebrated in many countries where people practice the Christian religion, but in Russia we have some specific traditions on this holiday. For example, in many families, the women bake special a Easter cake or Easter sweet bread (in Russian it is called Kulich). They are often decorated with white cream and colorful sprinkles on the top, resembling domes of churches. We also paint boiled eggs in different bright colours (originally it was only a red colour) with stickers or other decorations. This is something we often do together with children. The eggs denote the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some people bring their cakes and eggs to a church to have them blessed. As all these preparations take a lot of time, some do it on the eve of the holiday, and the next day people visit their families, relatives and friends and swap these coloured eggs, offering their best wishes. Many religious people go to church at night to celebrate what we call the divine service. Easter is a very important holiday for many Christian people not only in Russia, but all over the world.

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6 thoughts on “Talking about special days and celebrations”

  1. Birthday´s day, I think is special day for everyone

    It´s a day to celebrate the life; the life is a present. I was born on October 3th, in Montevideo, Uruguay but I live in Argentina. In a few weeks I will be eating my special cake together with my familly only on this time. Last years I had celebrate with friends too but this year not because we are in quarentine. It´s too sad this situation. I hope the next year I can do a big party with all my dear people and share a nice moments.
    Be happy as much as you can.

    • Hi Andrea,

      We already have a description for birthdays, so I won’t add this to this list but here are some amendments:

      I think your birthday is a special day for everyone. It´s a day to celebrate as life is a gift. I was born on October 3rd, in Montevideo, Uruguay but I live in Argentina. In a few weeks, I will be eating a special cake but with only my family this time. Last year, I celebrated with friends too, but this year I won’t be able to because we are in quarantine. It´s a very sad situation. I hope next year I can have a big party with all the people who are dear to me, and share some nice moments. Be as happy as you can!

  2. Easter holiday
    Eatser is celebrated in many countries where people profess the Christian religion, but in Russia we have certain traditions on this holiday. For example, in many families women bake special Easter cake or Easter sweet bread (in Russian it is called Kulich). They are often decorated with white cream and colorful sprinkles on the top resembling domes of churches. Also we paint boiled eggs, in different bright colours (originally it was red colour), with stickers or other decorations, often together with children. They denote the Ressurection of Jesus Christ. Some people bring their cakes and eggs to a church to make them bless. As all these preparations take a lot of time, some do it on the eve of the holiday, and the next day people visit their families, relatives and friends and swap these coloured eggs, offering congratulations. Many religious people go to church at night to celebrate the divine service. Easter is a very important holiday for many christian people not only in Russia, but all over the world

  3. Indonesian Independence’s Day

    Indonesian people, adults, children, toddlers, who live not only in the area of Republic of Indonesian but also abroad, celebrate the Independence’s Day on 17th Augst by making a party such as games. People who win the game will get prize from the comittee. Adults in a team usually play a climbed tree which consist of some precious gifts. Mothers play cooking. Children play drawing or putting a marble on the spoon while running. Teenagers play a simple funny sports. Everything will decorate by red and white. There are many flags, fliers, banners, ballons of course in red and white. Before the event, people usually paint their fence and sorroundings with red and white. They also usually make a beautiful gate in front the complex of the house. This event are waited annualy by many people because make them happy.

    • Hi Yuli – thanks for your post. Very interesting – I hadn’t heard of that before!

      I have added your description to our page (with some amendments).

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