Tag: Christmas


12 language facts for the 12 days of Christmas

Over the 12 days of Christmas, from 25 December until 5 January, we’ve been sharing images on Facebook with language facts relating to the festive song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. We’ve gathered them all together, in the image gallery below… On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me a Partridge in […]

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S novym godom: enjoy a Russian happy new year!

Forget Christmas! In Russia – and in some other former Soviet countries – Novyi God (Новый Год, ‘New Year’) is arguably the most popular holiday of the year. Christmas was banned by the Bolsheviks following the 1917 Revolution and, although it is celebrated nowadays (more on that later), Russia’s biggest winter holiday remains a secular […]

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Check out our Christmas related words!

Rudolph and other Christmas-related words

Christmas comes but once a year, as some celebrants are wont to say, as do many of the words special to the season. Like so many Christmas lights, let’s untangle some holiday word histories–twelve, fittingly enough–to see what they might illuminate. Rudolph A number of animals give us their season’s greetings during Christmastime. Perhaps the most famous is Rudolph the […]

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Names for Santa around the world.

Names for Santa around the world

So who exactly do we mean by ‘Santa’ or ‘St. Nicholas’? It turns out that there are many names for Santa around the world, along with a whole group of other holiday gift-givers. Given his seeming ubiquity during the holiday season, from cameos in Black Friday advertisements to appearances in pop songs, it can feel […]

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The origins of Christmas words

Mistletoe encounters can be very hit-or-miss. My own experiences usually involve kissing a definite non-target rather than the person I’d been lingering beneath the foliage for. It was therefore with some satisfaction that I discovered that the literal meaning of mistletoe is ‘dung-on-a-twig’, the inspiration of the Anglo-Saxons who realized that the plant is fertilized […]

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Jingle Bells in the Historical Thesaurus of the OED

To celebrate the festive season, we’ve taken the lyrics to the much-loved song ‘Jingle Bells’ and fed certain words through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, giving a version that has an identical meaning, but very different appearance and sound. The words that have been altered are (as you will no doubt realize) in […]

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Christmas bauble_blog

Trolling yuletide carols: weird words in five famous Christmas songs

Whether you go a’wassailing, participate in a church choir, or simply like to sing along with a radio tuned to a festive station, at some point you may have found yourself in the middle of a Christmas carol, struck with the thought: what does that word even mean? Or even what am I actually singing?! […]

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The Nutcracker

Silver houses and marmalade castles: interpreting The Nutcracker

In 1892 the curtains rose at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg for the premiere of a new ballet. With a score by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa, the ballet was set to be a hit. After all, the pair had produced The Sleeping Beauty, which was hugely successful, just two years earlier. But […]

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