By Rachel Rowland ( ABC School’s Academic Coordinator )
The Christmas period is a perfect time for students of English to expand their English vocabulary. With a wide range of activities on offer, including an outing to see the Christmas lights, shopping in Oxford Street and indulging in traditional Christmas food and drink, there are lots of opportunities to learn more about the local culture and the language connected to the festive season. This is the best time of year to discover where some commonly used English Christmas words come from whilst you are out and about in London.
Crimbo and Crimble are slang words for Christmas. Crimbo was first used in 1928 and Crimble has been in use since 1963. Some believe that the word Crimble was invented by the Beatles, the English pop band, in the 1960s. Because of this, it was once seen as a cool word, but nowadays it has lost some of its charm and is used far less than in the past. People often write Merry Crimble/ Crimbo in their Christmas cards.
Eve is a shortened version of the word evening. Christmas Eve is the evening before Christmas. In England, we celebrate Christmas on the 25th December, and this is the day for opening our gifts and eating special Christmas food. However, in other European countries, such as Germany, Christmas Eve, which is the 24th December, is the time when people exchange presents with their families and they usually celebrate with special food and drink.
Walking around London during the festive season, you will undoubtedly come across groups of carol singers, standing outside shops and in the busy streets, singing songs about Christmas. The word carol was introduced into English by the Normans and comes from the Old French carole. It shares a root with words like chorus and choir. Surprisingly, the first English carols were not just songs, they were also a type of dance.
The day after Christmas, 26th December, is referred to as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom. Traditionally, this day was when employees and servants were given gifts of money or food, known as a Christmas box, by their bosses or employers. The term Christmas box dates back to the seventeenth century. Other stories about this day relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in boxes to their families. Nowadays, it is traditional for English people to eat left-over food from Christmas day, such as turkey sandwiches. It is also popular to make turkey curry!
There are many English words and phrases connected to Christmas. In this article, I have looked at a tiny handful of them! This Christmas, why not take the opportunity to tell your friends about Christmas traditions and customs in your country and perhaps you can learn a few more English words and phrases whilst you are out and about in London. Whatever you decide to do for Christmas, enjoy and stay safe!