Language tip of the week: Christmas words – part 1

Posted by on December 19, 2013

© Photodisc / Getty Images / Linda BronsonIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week, we look at some Christmas vocabulary.

The word Christmas refers both to 25 December, celebrated by Christians as the day that Jesus Christ was born and the period before and after 25 December. Here are some more useful terms to know when talking about the festive season:

Xmas (noun) an informal name for Christmas
Crimbo (noun) (British) an informal name for Christmas
Yule (noun) an old word meaning ‘Christmas’
Yuletide (noun) an old word meaning the period of time around Christmas
Noel or Noël (noun) a word which refers to Christmas and is used in Christmas songs and on cards
Christmas Eve (noun) the day or evening before Christmas Day
Christmas Day (noun) 25 December, celebrated by Christians as the day that Jesus Christ was born
Boxing Day (noun) the first day after Christmas Day, which is a public holiday in the UK and Canada

Advent (noun) in the Christian religion, the four-week period before Christmas Day
Advent calendar (noun) a picture, usually of a Christmas scene, with a series of 24 hidden pictures behind it. Children open one part of the main picture to see one of the hidden pictures each day during Advent.
Christmas box
(noun) (British) a small present or amount of money given at Christmas to someone who delivers things to your house such as the postman
Christmas cake (noun) (British) a heavy fruit cake eaten at Christmas in the UK
Christmas card (noun) a card that you send to your friends and family at Christmas
Christmas carol (noun) a traditional song sung at Christmas
Christmas cracker (noun) (British) a tube of coloured paper wrapped round a small present for Christmas. It makes a sudden sharp noise when two people pull it apart.
Christmas dinner (noun) a traditional meal eaten at Christmas, in the UK often consisting of turkey with vegetables, followed by a heavy fruit pudding called Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding (noun) (British) a sweet food made with dried fruits and spices (=substances that flavour food), eaten at Christmas
Christmas stocking (noun) a large sock that children hang on their bed the night before Christmas that is filled with presents while they sleep
Christmas tree (noun) a tree that you cover with lights and other decorations at Christmas. Christmas presents are often placed under the tree.
Father Christmas (British) an imaginary old man with a long white beard and red clothes who brings children their Christmas presents
Santa Claus or Santa an imaginary man with a long white beard and a red suit who brings presents for children at Christmas

Check out the Macmillan Dictionary & Thesaurus for more terms relating to important days in the Christian calendar.

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