April was called Aprilis in Latin but nobody knows why for sure. The name might come from the Latin word for “open” or “sunny” or maybe April is named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. In April, the days continue to get longer and there is more light in the evenings because it’s now British Summer Time rather than Greenwich Mean Time.
The weather usually gets warmer and in some years there is quite a lot of rain. We often talk about “April showers”. Because of the warmer weather and rain, plants everywhere start growing quickly. Tulips can be seen in gardens and there are bluebells in the woods. Also, a lot of birds that migrated to warmer countries for the winter return to the UK in April.
The first day of the month is April Fools’ Day. This is a day when you can play jokes or tricks on other people. I don’t think that many people actually do this but there is often a story hidden in the newspaper and it’s fun trying to find it! It sounds like a true story at first but then you realise it’s a joke as you read on. In 1957, there was a story on BBC TV about spaghetti trees in Switzerland and a lot of people fell for it!
Easter often falls in April but it can be in March too. You can read more about Easter here. The children have two weeks’ holiday from school around Easter and the third term of the school year, called the summer term, begins in April. This is an important time for a lot of children because they have to start preparing for their end-of-year exams.
The Boat Race usually takes place in April and sometimes in March. This is a rowing race between teams from Cambridge and Oxford universities, usually on the River Thames in London. There’s a men’s race and a separate women’s race on the same day. The Cambridge team always wears light blue and Oxford wears dark blue. The race covers a stretch of the river which is nearly 7 km long. Thousands of people go to the river to watch and many more watch it on TV.
Another sporting event that occurs in April is the London Marathon. The people who take part in this running race are a mixture of professional athletes and amateur runners. A lot of people dress up in costumes and raise money for charity. The race is about 26 miles (or 42 kilometres) long. A lot of the route is along the River Thames and it passes some of the most famous landmarks in London.
Saint George is the patron saint of England and April 23rd is Saint George’s Day. This is the closest thing we have to a national day in England. It used to be a holiday but it isn’t any more. In fact, it is hardly celebrated at all nowadays. You might see an occasional England flag or red rose on a jacket. Saint George was a Roman soldier who protested against the way the Romans treated Christians and he was killed for his beliefs. However, he’s probably better known for the myth about him fighting and killing a dragon. This day is also thought to be the birthday of William Shakespeare, although his date of birth isn’t known for certain. He also died on this day in 1616, aged 52.
If you would like to learn more about English life, try my e-book, "A Year in England". It contains a text like this for each month, plus a vocabulary list and reading comprehension questions. There are also bonus sections about Christmas and Easter. Click the image below or visit my shop.
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