Must-Know American Holiday Words and Phrases

english-language-dayAs the holidays approach, you may find yourself hearing more and more new, holiday-specific words. Anyone taking classes to learn English will need to pay special attention to some of these festive phrases to learn what they mean and how to use them in conversations with other people.


Thanksgiving Day in the United States is always on the fourth Thursday of November. This national holiday is full of traditions that focus on food, family, and thankfulness. Common Thanksgiving words and phrases include the following:

* Turkey Day – People call the holiday Turkey Day instead of Thanksgiving because of the customary meal, which traditionally consists of turkey.

* Giving Thanks – People make mental, written, or verbal lists of all the people and things they are thankful for.

* Saying Grace – Many Americans say a special prayer around the table before eating the meal.

* Food vocabulary – The Thanksgiving meal usually includes turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, other cooked vegetables, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie.


As Christmas approaches, many people begin to adopt a festive demeanor in celebration of the holiday. A student seeking to learn English may hear many of these words and phrases:

* Santa Claus or St. Nick – Kids of all ages anticipate gifts arriving by sleigh on Christmas Eve, delivered by Santa Claus.

* Christmas Carols – This season involves songs and music with special words denoting the joyous celebration.

* Decking the Halls – Hanging decorations and decorating a Christmas tree is commonly known as “decking the halls.”

* Nativity Scenes – Some people like to create a stable scene to show what it may have looked like when Jesus Christ was born in a stable on Christmas Eve.

New Years

Many like to celebrate the arrival of the new calendar year at midnight on December 31.

* Resolutions – Some like to make promises for habits they will try to break or new ones they will try to instill during the new year.

* Toasting – Sharing a drink of champagne to toast the new year is another common celebration.

Make it a point to learn English during the holidays by immersing yourself in the traditions and culture of the English language!

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