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Archive Language Point 23
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Christmas and New Year Vocabulary

The flatmates in the kitchen

We can use these words with or without 'Christmas' before them:

A lot of Christmas vocabulary can be used with or without the word ‘Christmas’ in front of it. For example we can talk about ‘Christmas crackers’ or just ‘crackers’:
a cracker (n): a small paper tube which is pulled from each end by two people at Christmas time. It makes a sharp bang (or 'crack') when it is pulled and inside there is a toy and a joke written on a small piece of paper
a carol (n): a religious song (hymn) or non-religious song about Christmas
wrapping paper (n): specially decorated paper (usually with pictures of snowmen, Christmas trees, Santa Claus (etc.) used to wrap Christmas gifts
a card (n): a greeting card (like a birthday card) which you send to your family and friends around Christmas time
a tree (n): a pine tree (an evergreen tree) with leaves like needles which people put in their house around Christmas time and decorate with fairy lights, ornaments and tinsel
a wreath (n):a circle of fresh or dried flowers or leaves which people hang on their front door around Christmas time
a pudding (n): a traditional dessert made of dried fruit soaked in alcohol, eaten on Christmas day
an ornament (n): a decoration (a small ball, toy or piece of chocolate) which is hung on a Christmas tree

We can't leave out ‘Christmas’ with these words:

a white Christmas: when snow falls on Christmas day
Christmas lights: outdoor lights, usually in town squares or main streets which are put up and lit during the Christmas period
Father Christmas (also knows as Santa Claus): an imaginary person who brings presents to children on the night before Christmas Day. Traditionally he is an old man with a red suit and white beard

We don’t use ‘Christmas’ before these words:

fairy lights: small lights which are hung on a Christmas tree
tinsel (n): lengths of glittered string which are hung on a Christmas tree
Secret Santa: people who work together put everyone’s names in a hat and each person picks out one name. They have to keep the name a secret from everyone else and buy a small gift for that person
mistletoe (n): a small green flower which is hung from the ceiling around Christmas time. When people are under the mistletoe at the same time, they have to kiss each other
Boxing day: The day after Christmas day
the festive period: the time around Christmas and New Year when there are lots of parties and Christmas activities

New Year vocabulary:

Scottish people are famous for the ways they celebrate the coming of the New Year so it’s no surprise that a lot of words connected with New Year are Scottish.
Auld Lang Syne (Times gone by):a Scottish song that people sing at New Year to remember old friends
to first foot (v): to be the first person to visit friends or relatives in the New Year. Traditionally if the visitor is tall, dark and handsome, he (or she!) will bring the people in the house good luck for the rest of the year
Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve): The evening before New Year’s Day
a New Year's resolution: A promise we make at New Year to improve ourselves
The Bells: traditionally, bells ring out at midnight to signal that the New Year has arrived. In the UK, radio and TV often broadcast the chiming of the bells from Big Ben in London

Vocabulary:

to snog (v, informal): to kiss passionately
to give something up (v): to stop doing something (which is bad for us, for example smoking)
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