Word of the Day


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an old word meaning the period of time around Christmas

Origin and usage

The word Yuletide comes from late Middle English and its first recorded use was in the 15th century, around 1475. It originates from the word ‘yule’ meaning ‘the Christmas season’ and ‘tid’ or ‘tide’ meaning ‘a point or period of time’.


Yuletide is a noun that refers to the time around the Christmas season, usually from around 21 December until 1 January. Yuletide is an old-fashioned word that has fallen out of favour in many places where Christmas is celebrated, though there are still countries where observance of Yuletide continues.

The celebration of Yuletide dates back centuries, and was originally a way to commemorate the winter solstice — the shortest day and longest night of the year. Though the rituals surrounding Yuletide have changed dramatically over time, some Yuletide traditions remain popular and have contributed to modern-day celebrations of the festive season.

Decorating an evergreen tree was a common Yuletide custom in ancient times, as is giving gifts to friends and loved ones. The Yule Log is another centuries-old tradition meant to symbolize the passing of an old year into a new one, with the promise of hope and happiness. The oak log is usually decorated with evergreen boughs, sprigs of holly, bare birch branches and trailing ivy vines. A more delicious alternative is the classic French Bûche de Noël, a decadent chocolate cake baked in the shape of a Yule Log and shared with family and friends at a Yuletide gathering.


“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay.”
(Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas)
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos.”
(The Christmas Song)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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