Advent Calendar Day 16: Words of Christmas You Might Not Know

Advent Calendar Day 16: Words of Christmas You Might Not Know

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While the basics of the holiday season in Britain are pretty much the same as anywhere else in the English speaking world, there are key differences and many of them are easily defined by the words used to name them. So, we present here a list of words related to British Christmas to help you understand how the Brits celebrate the holiday season (which for them includes Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s). This will be quite handy when you watch any British Telly Christmas specials.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday that’s the day after Christmas. Traditionally it’s when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers. It hasn’t been that for a long time now – it’s now just another ‘Bank Holiday’ which means most people get the day off. Except for the poor unfortunate souls working the Boxing Day sales which are roughly equivalent to ‘Black Friday’ in the USA. Many folks will also have a special Boxing Day lunch featuring a special meal or leftovers from the Christmas feast the day before.

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a festival marking the coming of the Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the infant Jesus. Different traditions mark the date of Twelfth Night on either 5 January or 6 January; the Church of England celebrates Twelfth Night on January 5th and “refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the infant Jesus”. In the UK this is the unofficial end of the holiday season and when many people shuffle back to work. It’s also when people usually take down their Christmas trees and decorations. A belief has arisen in modern times, in some English-speaking countries, that it is unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after Twelfth Night.

Hogmanay

Aka Scottish New Year’s. Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner. It is normally followed by further celebration on the morning of New Year’s Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January—a special Scottish Bank Holiday. The origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. Customs vary throughout Scotland, and usually include gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours, with special attention given to the first-foot, the first guest of the new year.

Christmas Specials

One of the most well known traditions during Christmas is when many of our favorite British TV shows put on a special created to air during the holidays when people are apt to be watching lots of telly. The special doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with Christmas but usually does. Some examples from the past include A Blackadder Christmas, Yes Prime Minister, the Vicar of Dibley. Since it’s revival in 2005, there’s pretty much been a Doctor Who special every year since then. For the last few years there’s usually been a Downton Abbey special, sometimes it’s festive related. Christmas specials are such a part of the holiday season that the Radio Times (UK TV Guide) puts out a massive double issue featuring everything you can watch while you’re eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine.

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is usually red wine infused with various seasonal mulling spices. It’s usually served hot, providing a nice warm drink on a cold winter’s day. Port and claret are traditional choices for mulled wine, and are often combined.

Mince Pies

While mince pies no longer have meat in them, they’re a delicious Christmas confection enjoyed widely at Christmas. A mince pie is a small British fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. Now it’s a popular treat during Christmas.

Happy Christmas

This one causes a lot of confusion. Merry Christmas is a more traditional Christmas greeting but over the years ‘Happy Christmas’ is the more common method of wishing holiday merriment in the UK and Ireland. Historically there was ‘moral suspicion’ around Merry Christmas as it implied boisterousness and drinking. Whereas Happy Christmas is more sedate and sober. The Queen herself wishes her subjects a Happy Christmas in her yearly Christmas Address. But most people in the UK say Happy Christmas and it’s not because there is some kind of imaginary ‘war’ on Merry Christmas. In the USA people simply say Merry Christmas instead. Both are perfectly fine.

Father Christmas

This one is easy – Santa Claus, jolly old St Nick. He’s the same guy, does the same things, they just call him Father Christmas instead. Visiting Father Christmas isn’t as widespread a thing as it is here in the USA but people still do it. You can usually visit him in a Christmas Grotto (often in a Lapland attraction). Harrods has a Christmas Grotto and tickets to see him are released in August and sell out right away!

Lapland

There are usually several of these types of attractions that pop up around the UK during the holiday season. Instead of the North Pole, Father Christmas lives in Lapland (the frozen bits of Finland). To celebrate this people visit Lapland attractions that feature a Grotto (to visit Father Christmas), ice skating, usually a Christmas market, hot drinks, reindeer, etc. It’s really an excuse to get in winter gear and go on a day out. And in Great British Tradition, they’re usually disappointing.

Chrimbo/Crimble

Chrimbo is a British slang word for Christmas that originates in 1925 (though it sounds like something a Chav would say). John Lennon also used the version Crimble in Beatles’ song about Christmas.

Crackers

Crackers are an odd thing. We kind of have them here in the US but they’re not common. They’re cardboard tubes filled with a paper crown, toy or trinket and usually a joke. They have gunpowder in them and they make a cracking sound when you pull them apart. They’re great fun. I personally love the jokes, as lame and awful as they usually are.

Pantomime

No, not the obnoxious street artists in Paris. This is a great British tradition that’s the most difficult to explain to non-Brits. A Panto is essentially a play our musical seen at Christmas time. It doesn’t have to be Christmas related and is often not. But the plays are ridiculous and usually family friendly. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. The big shows usually bring in a famous celebrity (often American) to draw in the crowds.

The Queen’s Speech

On Christmas day at 3pm, most of the nation stops to hear a special Christmas message from The Queen. It’s short and to the point and as a tradition started with the advent of radio. The message is usually a message of goodwill and understanding an it’s the Queen’s personal touch to Christmas celebrations that people appreciate the most – it’s as if she’s speaking right to you. The message is usually recorded in advance and the Queen reflects on the past year and wishes you all a Happy Christmas.

Christmas Pudding

In Britain, Pudding means something completely different than Americans think. A Christmas Pudding is basically a dessert. But it’s so much more than a dessert. It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding or just “pud”, though this can also refer to other kinds of boiled pudding involving dried fruit. Despite the name “plum pudding,” the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins. The pudding is composed of many dried fruits held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is aged for a month, months, or even a year; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.

German Christmas Markets

This is an odd one for a country that fought two world wars against Germany but one popular German import has been the German Christmas Market. These usually take over the central squares of Britain’s major cities as local artisans sell often Christmas themed handmade goods. They’re a good way to pick up a gift or get a nice warm cup of cider (or mulled wine).

Christmas Jumper

One tradition that has grown in popularity recently is to have an Ugly Christmas Jumper party in the office. A jumper is a type of pull over sweater and to qualify as a Christmas Jumper is has to have a garish knitted or cross stitched design that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing any other time of the year. It’s all for a laugh. Though Grandmother may not appreciate your dislike of her knitted jumpers.

source: anglotopia

We are giving you a clue. Tell the word or expression.

1. 26th December

2. Christmas Day 3 pm

3. artisans

4. 5 January or 6 January

5. garish knitted or cross stitched

6. a special Scottish Bank Holiday

7. cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger

8. Doctor Who

9. John Lennon

10. paper crown, trinket, joke

Key

1. Boxing Day

2. Queen’s Speech

3. German Christmas markets

4. Epiphany, Twelfth Night

5. Christmas jumper

6. Hogmanay, Scottish New Year’s

7. Christmas pudding

8. Christmas special

9. Crimble

10. Cracker

Vocabulary

Boxing Day

karácsony másnapja (december 26.)

servant

szolga

tradesman

kereskedő

boss

főnök

employer

munkaadó, munkáltató

to get the day off

munkaszüneti napot/szabadnapot kapni

roughly

hozzávetőlegesen, durván

equivalent

megegyező

leftovers

maradék

feast

lakoma

Epiphany

vízkereszt

nativity story

Krisztus születésének a története

wise men

bölcsek

infant

csecsemő

unofficial

nem hivatalos

to shuffle back

visszakeveredni, visszavánszorogni

to take down the Christmas tree

leszedni a karácsonyfát

Gregorian calendar

Gergely-naptár

to derive

származni, eredni

observance

szertartás

guest

vendég

to be apt to

hajlamos valamit csinálni

revival

feltámadás, visszatérés

mulled wine

forralt bor

infused with

fűszerezve

port

portói bor

claret

bordói vörösbor

mincemeat

töltelék, töltelékes

ingredient

hozzávaló

crusader

keresztes vitéz, keresztes lovag

merriment

vigadozás

moral

erkölcsi

suspicion

gyanakvás

boisterousness

féktelenkedés, hangoskodás

sedate

nyugodt

sober

józan

subject

alattvaló

jolly

vidám, jókedvű

widespread

elterjedt

Christmas Grotto

felépített karácsonyi témájú helyszín, jelenet

to release

kiadni, kibocsátani

to pop up

felbukkanni, megjelenni

North Pole

Északi-sark

reindeer

rénszarvas

winter gear

téli öltözék

chav

suhanc, tróger

cardboard

karton

tube

cső

trinket

csecsebecse

gunpowder

puskapor

to pull apart

széthúzni

lame

béna, buta

obnoxious

ellenszenves, visszataszító

slapstick comedy

helyzetkomédia, bohózat sok ütleggel

gender-crossing

nemet felcserélő

loosely

lazán

goodwill

jóakarat

to appreciate

értékelni

in advance

előre

medieval

középkori

plum

szilva

raisin

mazsola

suet

faggyú

moistened

nedvesítve

treacle, molasses

melasz

cinnamon

fahéj

nutmeg

szerecsendió

clove

szegfűszeg

ginger

gyömbér

artisan

kézműves, mesterember

goods

áruk

cider

almabor

jumper

pulóver

garish

ízléstelen, rikító

knitted

kötött

cross stitched

keresztszemes

you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it

a világ minden kincséért sem vennéd fel

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