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Agile English Blog by Eklektika

Christmas in context: Origin, fun facts, idioms and more!

25/12/2017
author: Iwona Braun-Nowak
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Christmas in context: Origin, fun facts, idioms and more!

The holidays are here and to celebrate it, here are some very interesting facts we have compiled about Christmas, fun facts, idioms and more.

Origin

According to Wikipedia; „Christmas” is a shortened form of „Christ’s mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), „Messiah”, meaning „anointed”;and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form Christenmas was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally „Christian mass”.Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), „Christ”, though numerous style guidesdiscourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where „Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός).

Other names

In addition to „Christmas”, the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as „midwinter”,or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below).„Nativity”, meaning „birth”, is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola (Yule) referred to the period corresponding to December and January, which was eventually equated with Christian Christmas.„Noel” (or „Nowel”) entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs) meaning „birth (day)”.

Fun worldwide traditions

In the Marshall Islands, people prepare for Christmas months in advance, stockpiling gifts and dividing into jeptas, or teams, that hold song-and-dance competitions on Christmas Day. They also build a piñata-like wojke containing little presents (matches, money, soap) for God.

In Argentina, Christmas is a blend of American, European, and Hispanic traditions. Their celebrations typically include the boots of Father Christmas, red and white flowers, and putting cotton on Xmas trees to simulate snow. But most family gatherings take place on Christmas Eve, with huge feasts, gifts exchanged at midnight, and children going to sleep to the sound of fireworks.

In Peru, December 24th, which is known as La Noche Buena (“the Good Night”), is the main day for celebrations. After mass, families go home to feast, open gifts, and toast each other at midnight. The most important decorations are pesebre– Nativity scenes intricately carved from wood or stone. Gifts are spread around the manger rather than a tree, and it’s considered lucky to be the one chosen to put the figurine of baby Jesus into the manger on Christmas Eve.

In spite of Ethiopia’s Christian heritage, Christmas is not an important holiday there. Most people actually call the holiday Ganna or Genna after a hockey-like ball game played only once a year, on Christmas afternoon.

People in Iceland will often exchange books on Christmas Eve, then spend the rest of the night reading them and eating chocolate. The tradition is part of a season called Jolabokaflod, or “The Christmas Book Flood.” As a result, Iceland publishes more books per capita then any other country selling most of them between September and November.

Idioms related to Christmas

  • Be my guest

Meaning: a polite way to let someone know that they should help          themselves to something

Example: Do you mind if I get that last piece of the fruit cake? Be           my guest.

  • Good things come in small packages Meaning: a present should not be judged by its size, because sometimes the smallest gifts are the best. Example: At first I was saddened by the size of my gift, but I thought to myself  „good things come in small packages”. I was not mistaken, because inside there were keys to a new car!
  • The more the merrier Meaning: the more people there are, the better the situation will be Example: Can I bring my girlfriend to the holiday party? Sure, the more the merrier.
  • Be there with bells on Meaning: said in response to an invitation and meaning you will happily go. Example: Mom, will you come to my Christmas play at school? Of course, I will be there with bells on.Information extracted from: Wikipedia and Green Global Travel.

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