Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s time to update your Christmas vocabulary! Celebrated annually on December 25th, Christmas is a holiday that is enjoyed by cultures and communities all around the globe. Languages, traditions, and race might divide us, but it seems we all love Christmas! The holidays are a time to bring family together, sharing gifts and food. For many, the Nativity is also a religious holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Either way, the significance of this holiday cannot be underestimated.
Christmas, along with gift-giving and general jolliness, brings a variety of vocabulary describing the traditions of the holiday. These terms integrate themselves into normal conversations with relative ease when the holiday season starts. Regardless of where you go, the Christmas vocabulary is virtually the same. Translators have often remarked how these words are generally understood and used across cultures.
Here is some vocabulary you should know, if you don’t want to feel left out at the upcoming Christmas get-togethers!
Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary character from Western Christian culture who brings gifts to the homes of well-behaved (good) children on Christmas Eve. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas.
Traditionally a real Pine Tree is carried into the house in the week before Christmas. This tradition dates back to pagan times and originated in Northern Europe. These days, many people use an artificial tree, that acts as a surrogate. Some families prefer to invest in artificial ones since they do not require any maintenance and are easier to adjust, move and decorate. Real trees shed their needles during the Christmas period, and most of us have experienced a pine needle in the foot at some point!
Father Christmas often leaves the presents for the children under the Christmas Tree.
Blustery weather is changeable and unpredictable, with strong winds. Winter nights in the north are often windy and cold, and a perfect time to bring the family together around a roaring fire!
This is a sweet that is shaped like a gentleman’s cane or walking stick. It is characterized by its red and white stripes and is popularly associated with Christmas, due to the resemblance with the clothes of Santa Claus. Candy Cane comes in several flavors, with the most popular being peppermint.
Figgy pudding is a type of Christmas pudding which was originally made with figs. Usually it is baked or steamed. Figgy pudding dates back to 16th century England. Before serving, in England, we like to put pour some brandy on top and set it alight!
The Yule log is a specially selected log (piece of wood) which is burnt on Christmas Eve or Day. This tradition exists in a number of countries in Europe. The origin of the custom is unclear. These days, many families make chocolate cakes in the shape of a log to represent the original.
These are hymns with themes that revolve around Christmas. They can highlight several things, such as the glory of Christ, the festive nature around us, or the beauty of life. Many are based on early medieval songs. Translation agencies often translate carols across languages.
This is a red flower that is often prevalent in the holiday seasons since, in the north it’s one of the few plants that flowers during the winter. In addition, it blends nicely with the red themed Christmas decorations!
This is a famous song which is often played on Christmas Eve. It is a particluar favourite for children, as jingle bells remind us all of the sound of Santa’s Sleigh coming to deliver presents!
Santa’s Sleigh is of course drawn by reindeers. Rudolph is the ninth reindeer of Santa Claus, and we know he has a very red nose. Many of us suspect he is Santa’s favourite reindeer!
Father Christmas, also known as Santas Claus, compiles a list of all the girls and boys who have been good this year. And it is this list that he uses on Christmas Eve to know which houses he will visit, bringing gifts.
Have you been good this year?!