Learning about Christmas with help from The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the English-speaking world. It is believed that the first English-speaking country to celebrate Christmas was England when St. Augustine brought Christianity to the country in 596 AD.
Today’s celebrations of Christmas in England are very different to those of St. Augustine’s time. Let’s learn some vocabulary associated with Christmas in 21st century.
Wishing Someone a Happy Christmas
If someone wishes you a Happy Christmas you can say in return:
Many happy returns
Decorating Your House at Christmas
Decorating your house is another important aspect of Christmas and many people begin on December 6.
The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of all Christmas decorations at home. It is covered with baubles, (little colored balls), tinsel (colored paper) and many lights. An angel or star is placed on top of the tree.
Some people also place garlands around their houses. These are small circular decorations made from pieces of trees, plants and flowers.
Door swags are similar to garlands except they are made specifically for the front door and as a result are bigger and with more decorations. They might have small fruits or berries and might even be sprayed silver or gold.
Cribs or mangers are other popular Christmas decorations in England. These are small wooden structures that recreate the scene of the birth of the baby Jesus. They include small ornaments of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and even the three wise men who, the bible tells us, brought gifts to the baby Jesus (Melchior, Balthazar, Caspar). Cribs and mangers can also be decorated with hay and grass to recreate the scene from the stable where the bible tells us Jesus was born.
What Do We Eat at Christmas
Christmas Day involves a huge feast on the table for those celebrating it.
We eat meat like turkey, ham or goose.
The meat is accompanied normally by potatoes, carrots, and peas.
The meal can be flavored with cranberry sauce or white sauce and mustard.
Dessert on Christmas Day is also delicious! Some people have sponge cake or trifle and cream.
Tinned fruits, like pears, are also popular.
People also enjoy a festive Christmas cake with dried fruits, nuts and a little whiskey!
Little cakes with dried fruits called mince pies are also eaten on December 25.
A special pudding called plum pudding made from dried fruits, nuts and whiskey is also eaten, with cream or custard.
If it is very cold, you might be offered a hot wine with spices called mulled wine.
There are many Christmas traditions in English-speaking countries:
We swap presents with loved ones.
The children wait for a visit from Santa Claus.
We light a candle on the window. The story is that this lights the way for Mary and Joseph to the stable.
Many Catholics go to midnight mass which is normally by candlelight.
In England, some people listen to the Queen’s Christmas speech on the television.
As we start to celebrate Christmas, let’s enjoy it with a Christmas classic, Fairytale of New York with The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Happy Christmas to all our readers and all our students!