One of the most famous Christmas songs says that December is the most wonderful time of the year. Some of the reasons for that are that families get together, houses are decorated, and presents are exchanged. In this blog post, we will go over the Christmas traditions and learn lots of vocabulary in English to talk about Santa Claus and more. Just like another very famous Christmas song says, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go”. Let’s get started and learn some Christmas vocabulary in English, shall we?
What is Christmas all about
Christmas is always celebrated on December 25. People usually get together to have a special Christmas dinner on December 24, which is called Christmas Eve. For Christians, Christmas Day marks the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Well, how is Christmas celebrated? People celebrate the date by decorating their houses, attending mass, having dinner with friends and family, and opening the gifts Santa Claus leaves under the Christmas tree. It is also important to remember that Christmas is one of the biggest commercial dates of the year, since one of the main traditions is to exchange gifts. In the United States, December 25 has been a federal holiday since 1870. Keep reading for more information on Christmas decorations, Santa Claus, Christmas food and drinks, and more!
Trees, stockings, and mistletoes
One of the most exciting Christmas traditions starts way before December 25. People usually decorate their house in late November or early December. According to Christian tradition, decorations are taken down after the “Twelfth Night”. This date celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men, who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring their gifts to baby Jesus. The Twelfth Night is celebrated on January 6th, so that’s when you can start packing up your Christmas decorations.
The most important item you should have when decorating your house for Christmas is the Christmas tree. Each year, about 30 to 35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States. Fun fact: those trees usually grow for around 15 years before they are sold. You can also buy an artificial Christmas tree. In Brazil, for instance, it is way more common to have an artificial Christmas tree that will last many years than to buy a new one every year. What are Christmas trees like in your country? Let us know in the comment section! We know there are different Christmas traditions around the world.
Once you have your Christmas tree in your living room, you can start decorating it with ornaments. Let’s learn more Christmas vocabulary! Common ornaments are baubles (decorated glass globes), toys, stuffed animals, and bows. But you can certainly decorate it with other types of ornaments. The most common colors are green, red, and white, but I have seen pink Christmas trees and they look awesome too.
To complete your Christmas tree, you may want to add some fairy lights, which are small LED bulbs on a thin and flexible metal wire, and a tree topper, which is an object (usually a star) that sits on the tallest branch of the tree. After you are done with the ornaments, you may want to add a Christmas skirt to the bottom of your tree. That’s where you will place all the gifts on.
Christmas stockings are also very popular. Usually, each person in the family gets one stocking. A stocking looks like a big sock. The idea is to hang them up in the house and Santa or his helpers will fill your stocking with small gifts. Those gifts are called stocking stuffers, which are usually cheap gifts like sweets or anything that comes in a mini version, such as lipsticks or roll-on perfumes.
Let’s learn more Christmas vocabulary! Another popular tradition is to hang a wreath on your front door. A wreath is a decorative arrangement of foliage or flowers on a circular base. You can decorate your wreath with Santa Claus, bows, pine cones, or anything that strikes your fancy.
Besides the Christmas tree, there are other three common Christmas plants: mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias. You may have seen this in an American movie before, but there’s a famous tradition with the mistletoe: if two people find themselves underneath a mistletoe they should kiss. There are many movies and songs that talk about this common tradition.
The man who lives in the North Pole
Even though only kids really believe that their presents are delivered by him and his helpers on Christmas Eve, everybody likes Santa Claus. Santa is an old man who lives in the North Pole. He always wears the same outfit: a red suit, a big belt, and a hat. Santa Claus usually has a white beard and a friendly face, and he receives many letters from children all around the world telling him that they were good kids during the year and asking for special gifts they would like to get for Christmas. When it’s time, Santa Claus drives a flying sleigh that is pulled by reindeers with a sack full of presents on his back. He then uses the chimneys of people’s houses to get in and put the presents underneath the tree. Kids usually leave a glass of milk and some cookies for Santa.
A real feast
One of the most important things about Christmas is spending time with friends and family. Getting everybody together to sing Christmas songs, watch some great Christmas movies, and open presents is amazing. And just like any other celebration, there are always some traditional foods and drinks involved.
Christmas dinner is different depending on where you live. Some families will have a turkey, just like is done on Thanksgiving, some other will serve ham or prime rib, for instance. My mom usually makes pork loin with pineapple, for instance. Some popular side dishes are mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, and roasted vegetables.
For dessert, it is common to serve gingerbread cookies, fruitcake, candy canes, or Christmas pudding. Here in Brazil, panettones are the real deal. This sweet bread originated in Italy and people eat it all round the world during the holiday season. Have you ever tried it?
Oh, we can’t forget the Christmas drinks! There are two very common drinks: eggnog and apple cider. Eggnog is made of milk, sugar, eggs, and spices, such as vanilla or nutmeg. You can also add alcohol to it! Apple cider is made from apples and it is usually served warm. Do you like eggnog and apple cider? What are the traditional Christmas drinks in your country?
Let’s learn more Christmas vocabulary with songs! If you open Spotify and go to the Top 50 songs in the United States right now, you will see not just one, but 17 Christmas songs. 17 out of 50 is a lot, right? Here are the ones I think you should add to your Christmas playlist. And you can learn a lot of Christmas words if you pay attention to the lyrics, you know?
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, by Andy Williams
Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree, by Brenda Lee
All I Want for Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey
Jingle Bell Rock, by Bobby Helms
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, by Michael Bublé
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let is snow!, by Dean Martin
We hope this post helps you learn some Christmas vocabulary in English. All of us here at PrepEng wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!