The traditional English Christmas is beginning to change as society changes. Here are some English phrases connected with an English Christmas.We all hold on to (try to remember) our family traditions for as long as we can. They usually bring back happy memories of times past and so it is with my memories of a traditional English Christmas.
English Phrases connected with an English Christmas
When the tree is decorated the Angel (dressed in white) is usually placed on the top branch to look down on the family as a sign of peace and to remind us what Christmas should be about. We always sent Christmas cards (greetings) to family and friends every year. We wrote the cards a few weeks before Xmas so that they would arrive in time. Every mantlepiece (shelf above the fireplace) was adorned (decorated) with the cards we received also. This tradition has died out (almost disappeared) due to technology so greetings now are usually sent on-line.
In the month of December the Christmas Shopping starts in earnest (seriously). Depending on the size of the family and the ages the presents will vary a lot. The children will have prepared their “Santa list” (the list of gifts they want) weeks in advance. Traditionally we used to write a letter to Santa and throw it up the chimney (the long pipe above the fireplace to let the smoke escape).
Nowadays (in modern times) the letter is posted to Santa at the North Pole. Those presents that will not be delivered by Santa are carefully wrapped (covered in coloured wrapping paper) and placed under the tree. Some people pick up the presents marked for them and try to guess what is inside. As we get closer to the Big Day (25 th December) the Christmas stockings are hung on the fireplace. There are always little surprises to be found there on Christmas morning.
Finally on Christmas Eve (the night before Christmas day – 24 th December) a plate of food for Santa and his Reindeers is left beside the tree. A mince pie for Santa and carrots or biscuits for the Reindeer. Many parents sneak down (move slowly and quietly) the stairs on Christmas Eve to eat some of the pie and biscuits so that the children really believe Santa has come.
On Christmas morning the children get up early (awake early) to see if their wishes have come true and the tearing and rustling of wrapping paper is very audible (can be heard). The Turkey is put in the oven and the parents settle to the task (get ready) of preparing the Christmas dinner. This is the focus of the day. A traditional Xmas dinner is usually Roast Turkey and all the trimmings (roast potatoes, roast veg, cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding and cake) all cooked to a traditional family recipe.
The table is beautifully decorated and paper hats (coloured hats) and crackers (paper tube that contains a small toy and a joke and makes a small “bang” when pulled between two people) beside every plate. The plan is to finish the dinner before or in time to listen to the Queens Christmas address (televised speech) to the country.
More English Words and Phrases connected with Christmas
Bah Humbug – one of the great quotes from the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”. This is used by people who do not feel the joy of Christmas that others feel.
Merry Christmas Sir! Bah Humbug..go away!!
Don’t Look a Gift horse in the mouth – this is used when somebody gets a gift or something for free even though they might not find it so useful. They are expected to be grateful.
Michael got a pair of gloves from his Aunt for Xmas. He was hoping to get some money. His mother told him to be more grateful and not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The More the Merrier – usually an expression when more people turn up to your party than you expected or some unexpected visitors turn up for your family dinner.
– Do you mind if a few friends come around for dinner? – My daughter asked.
– No not at all I replied. The more the merrier.
Like Turkeys voting for Xmas – when people accept something without putting up any resistance even though they know the outcome will be bad.
The company wanted to reduce the salaries by 10% as they were having a difficult trading period. They wanted the staff to agree. They all did even though they know it was like “turkeys voting for Xmas”. Worse was to follow.
To get into the Christmas mood and learn English vocabulary words and idioms connected with Christmas, check out the following links: