Words to Get International Students in the Holiday Spirit

Every December 25th, billions of people throughout the world celebrate Christmas Day. Because different cultures have so many traditions to celebrate Christmas and the many other holidays celebrated in America, it’s helpful to know how this annual event is discussed in English. The following are some words and phrases to help improve your holiday vocabulary this season.

Legend of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is the jolly fellow from the North Pole who wears a red coat and pants on Christmas Eve. As the story goes, he rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer to deliver presents to children throughout the world. The rest of the year, Santa and Mrs. Claus work with magical little people called elves to make the toys and presents.

Trees and Decorations

Freshly cut and artificial fir trees in and outside homes are decorated with such ornaments as glittering balls, bells, stars, and angels, among others. Here in New York City, you can’t miss the huge, sparkling Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Plants and WreathsImage of christmas poinsettias

Traditional Christmas plants are poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly. All are green and red, but while holly and poinsettias are used as decorations, mistletoe carries a special meaning—in holiday tradition, any couple standing beneath it must kiss. The Christmas wreath is a multi-colored circular arrangement of leaves, pinecones, and flowers that you can place on the front door of your home.

Christmas Food and Drinks

Candy canes are mint flavored white sticks with red stripes that are curved at the end. Among the drinks in the Christmas holiday vocabulary are eggnog made with egg and cream, as well as spicy apple cider, which is a warm, thick apple juice blended with nutmeg and cinnamon.

History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Its Festival of Lights features the initial lighting of a candle on a nine-branched menorah through the final night. Gifts are exchanged throughout the eight days of celebration. Doughnuts and latkes are consumed in volume.

Celebration of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili. From December 26 to January 1, an African American family convenes around a candle to discuss one of their culture’s seven values: family unity, self-determination, cooperative work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Kwanzaa concludes with an African feast.

The holiday season is filled with excitement here in New York City, and a great time to work on improving your English speaking skills! Call ALCC American Language at 212-736-2373 for information on all our courses available to help students like you become more fluent in English. Also, feel free to fill out our contact form for any information you may need.

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