Whether you’re learning English or have never been to the UK during Christmas, these words and phrases will help you survive Christmastime here.
- Christmas cracker – No, it’s not something you eat. A Christmas cracker is a type of table decoration which contains presents. One is set on each person’s plate and then when the time comes you and the person sitting near you take either end of the cracker and pull. The cracker pops open. Whoever gets the larger side wins the prizes inside. A Christmas cracker will always contain a paper crown, a joke and at least one small gift.
- Mistletoe – a type of plant which is hung from the ceiling. If two people are standing under it at the same time, they are supposed to kiss.
- Mince pies – a type of small pie which is filled with mincemeat. However, mincemeat is not meat at all and is actually different types of fruit cut up really small with sweet seasonings. It is generally served ward with cream or brandy butter.
- Christmas Pudding – a type of desert which is made of dried fruit, sugar and suet (beef fat) which you pour brandy over and light on fire before eating.
- Father Christmas – The more commonly used name for Santa Claus in the UK.
- Chrimbo – a slang term for Christmas.
- Pantomime – a type of British play which is usually based on a fairy tale and involves a lot of humour and audience participation.
- Christmas Jumper – Not someone who jumps up and down. Christmas jumpers are sweaters which are decorated, usually really tacky or ugly, for Christmas. Many offices or groups of friends have competitions to see you has the ugliest Christmas jumper.
- The Queen’s Speech – Every year on Christmas Day the Queen gives a speech about the previous year and highs and lows experienced as a country and the world.
- Christmas specials – Every year at Christmastime almost all TV programmes stop their regular format and have a ‘Christmas Special’. Quiz shows will have celebrity versions instead of regular people and other programmes have elaborate Christmas themed storylines.
- Happy Christmas – In the UK it is much more common to say ‘Happy Christmas’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’.
- Boxing Day – the day after Christmas which is usually spent at home trying to recover from eating too much food the previous day. However, many people now spend the day in the sales trying to get some good post-Christmas deals. The term Boxing Day comes from employers giving workers Christmas boxes, though this tradition isn’t widely practiced anymore.
By learning these word and phrases you’ll be able to not only understand the locals at Christmas, but be able to sound like one too.
In our next blog post, we’ll be looking at the history and traditions of Hogmanay (New Year’s) and also learning some key phrases.
To help improve your English vocabulary, why not register for an English course at ELA? We can help you navigate the diverse landscape of English and Scottish vocabulary.