Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

A Christmas Carol text analyser

A Christmas Carol text analyser

A Christmas Carol was first published 169 years ago, on 19 December 1843. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bad-tempered skinflint who hates Christmas and all it stands for, and his transformation after a ghostly visitor pays Scrooge a visit one Christmas Eve.  A Christmas Carol was met with instant success and was […]

Silver houses and marmalade castles: interpreting The Nutcracker

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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 […]

From jumbles to gingersnaps: the origins of cookie names

Christmas cookies!

It may be difficult to do so whilst piling them into one’s maw, but did you ever think about how Christmas cookies came to possess such deliciously eclectic names? Jumbles. Thumbprints. Snickerdoodles. Gingersnaps. Rugelach. Sand tarts. Macaroons. Kiffles. And these are only a few of the hundreds of types treasured in American households during the […]

Christmas in Spain: Kings and caganeres

Christmas in Spain: Kings and Caganeres

With every passing year, British Christmas seems to start earlier. As soon as the high street is finished with Halloween, Christmas gets going, with all the Slade and tinsel that that entails. Things are done differently in Spain. Navidad (from the Latin nativitas, also the root of the English nativity) officially kicks off with the […]

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Don’t bank on it. . .

Don't bank on it. . .

With just over a week to go until Christmas, many of us are no doubt looking forward to the holidays and a few days off work. For those working on the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, however, writing the history of the language sometimes took precedence over a Christmas break. Christmas leave in […]

Jewish holiday traditions: Chanukah

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My boyfriend insists that his basketball team can perform miracles. Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking (and, quite frankly, what I’m thinking, too) that when it comes to men and sports, you should just nod and agree to anything said. Over the years I have been in Israel however, I have come to realize […]

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Holiday traditions: what’s so magical about mistletoe?

mistletoe

Mistletoe is special. Every culture that comes across the plant mythologizes it and no wonder. To see mistletoe in England at this time of year, a ball of perfect green life suspended in barren branches, it seems a mysterious, even an other-worldly presence: healthy in the teeth of winter, seemingly without roots or any contact […]

Quaffing and scoffing tool: pairing festive foods with wine

Quaffing and scoffing tool: pairing festive foods with wine

Have you got that festive feeling? An urge to eat, drink, and be merry? Prepare for your seasonal celebrations with our food and wine pairing tool with a difference. Not only can you discover what you should be scoffing to complement your quaffing but you can also learn a fascinating food or wine language fact […]

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