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 English Vocabulary for ESL learners 


Words relating to Christmas traditions and celebrations.

Christmas is the annual Christian celebration of the birth on December 25 of Jesus Christ, hence the name Christmas. It is an occasion for people to spend time with their family and friends, send greeting cards and exchange presents. The exchange of gifts is symbolic of the three wise men giving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus.

Word Meaning
Advent The arrival of a person or an important event. Here it refers to the month before Christmas and the arrival of Jesus.
Bethlehem The town thought to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Boxing Day In the United Kingdom, December 26 is called Boxing Day.
It was traditionally a day to give a Christmas box to tradespeople. Nowadays it is a public holiday and an important day for sporting events, especially horse racing and football matches.
Candle A round stick of wax with a central wick which is lit to give light as it burns.
Chimney A vertical structure which extends through the roof of a house and allows smoke to escape from the fireplace. Santa Claus (Father Christmas) traditionally enters the house through the chimney.
Christmas The annual celebration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.
Christmas cake A rich fruit cake covered with marzipan and icing, eaten at Christmas.
Christmas card A greeting card sent to family and  friends at Christmas.
Christmas carol A joyful traditional song or hymn sung at Christmas. Singers visit people's houses at Christmas to sing carols and collect money, usually for charity.
Christmas Day December 25, the birthday of Jesus Christ.
Christmas Eve December 24, the evening or day before Christmas Day.
Christmas tree An evergreen tree which people decorate with lights, tinsel, etc. at Christmas.
Cracker A decorated cardboard tube wrapped in paper that makes a sharp explosive noise ('crack') and releases a small gift when two people pull it apart.
Egg-nog A traditional Christmas drink in the US made of beaten eggs, milk or cream, sugar and alcohol.
Frankincense Sweet-smelling gum from a tree, burnt as incense: one of the gifts that the three wise men gave to Jesus.
Holly Evergreen shrub with red berries used for decoration at Christmas.
Jingle bells Small bells that produce a light ringing sound. They are the featured on Santa's sleigh.
Joseph Husband of Mary (mother of Jesus).
Mary The mother of Jesus.
Mistletoe A plant with evergreen leaves and white berries, traditionally hung over doorways as a Christmas decoration.  When two people walk under the plant, they are supposed to kiss.
Myrrh Gum from a tree, used for perfume or incense : one of the the gifts given to Jesus by the three wise men.
Ornament A decoration which, at Christmas, is hung on a Christmas tree.
Reindeer A large deer with branching antlers found in some cold climates. A team of reindeer led by Rudolph pulls Santa's sleigh. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen are the names of the others.
SantaClaus An imaginary bearded old man, wearing a red suit, who lives at the North Pole and brings presents for children at Christmas. Traditionally Santa Claus travels in a sleigh and enters the house through the chimney on Christmas Eve.
Sleigh A large sledge (vehicle for travelling over snow and ice) pulled by horses or reindeer.
Three wise men Three kings (or wise men) - Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar- who followed a star to pay homage to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem and offered him three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Tinsel A glittering material produced in strips and used for decoration at Christmas.
Turkey Large bird traditionally eaten at Christmas.
Wreath Circular band of flowers or leaves used to decorate the front door of homes at Christmas.
Xmas Abbreviation for 'Christmas'.

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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