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  • We've all heard of the 12 days of Christmas.

  • But what about 12 words of Christmas?

  • Here's the story behind a few of them.

  • OneXmas.

  • Xmas has been contentious over the years, 

  • with some arguing it's a term designed

  • to remove the religious importance of Christmas.

  • In fact, X is the symbol forchi” -

  • the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, 

  • and that is why Christmas, or Christ's Mass, became Xmas.

  • TwoSanta.

  • Santa Claus comes from the Dutch, Sinterklass,

  • which literally translates as Saint Nicholas.

  • Before Saint Nicholas was even born though,

  • the Norse god, Odin,

  • was believed to lead a hunting party through the sky during Yule,

  • and he even delivered presents to children.

  • Threecarol.

  • Coming from the Latin "carula", meaning circular dance,

  • carols used to be pagan songs, sung all throughout the year.

  • They were swiftly adopted by the Romans, and then by the church,

  • as they were so popular.

  • Fourbauble.

  • This used to be the term for a baton carried by court jesters,

  • or bauble bearers, in Tudor England.

  • Back in the 17th Century,

  • to give the baubleto someone actually meant to make fun of them.

  • Fivetinsel.

  • Coming from France, étincelle, meaningsparkleorspark”,

  • it became part of our Christmas tree decorations

  • thanks to a Ukrainian fairytale

  • all about a generous spider who took pity on a poor family,

  • choosing to spend the night decorating their tree

  • with a web of gold and silver.

  • Sixstockings.

  • Originating from an old English word, stocc,

  • meaning trunk of a tree,

  • our Christmas stockings also have their own Christmas tale behind them.

  • In it, St Nicholas wanted to help a poor man and his daughters.

  • Knowing they wouldn't accept charity,

  • he threw three golden balls through their window at night,

  • each one landing in a different stocking.

  • The balls were sometimes represented as oranges,

  • which is why we get oranges in our stockings today.

  • Sevenchestnuts.

  • We can trace the wordchestnutback to "kastaneia",

  • which means "nut from Castana" – a town in Greece.

  • From here, our chestnuts trees were imported to the rest of Europe.

  • Roman soldiers used to roast them over an open fire,

  • or eat porridge out of them before they went into battle.

  • EightNativity.

  • The wordNativitycomes from the Latin wordnativus”,

  • meaning 'born'.

  • It's thought the first Nativity scene

  • was created by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223.

  • Mary and Joseph are usually placed on either side of the manger.

  • Then you have the shepherds.

  • And don't forget the three kings. They're traditionally added last.

  • Ninereindeer.

  • Santa's reindeer technically come from New York,

  • and a poem called A Visit from St Nicholas.

  • Rudolph is also American,

  • first appearing in a series ofcolouring books

  • promoting the Christmas goods of a department store.

  • His red nose was nearly removed,

  • as the store manager was concerned there'd be links drawn

  • between it and heavy drinking.

  • 10… mistletoe.

  • The latter half of mistletoe evolved out oftanmeaningtwig”.

  • Themistle part was another word for

  • dung. Bird dung to be exact,

  • named as it is because mistletoe sprouted out of trees

  • wherever birds congregated.

  • Kissing under the bird poo twig

  • doesn't really sound as romantic, does it?

  • 11… mince pies.

  • Starting out as a large oblong,

  • mince pies were originally a mixture of suet, fruit, cinnamon,

  • cloves, nutmeg and

  • meat.

  • Served around Christmas,

  • the mince pie evolved throughout the Victorian era,

  • with the meat eventually being removed.

  • 12… mulled wine.

  • Created by the Romans

  • when they'd heat wine to defend their bodies against the cold winter,

  • mulled wine spread across their empire

  • and the regions they traded with.

  • Its popularity continued throughout the Middle Ages,

  • as we mixed heated wine with spices,

  • believing it would promote health and prevent sickness.

  • And what better drink to sit back and toast

  • to this world of culture and history we've surrounded ourselves with.

  • Merry Christmas, one and all!

We've all heard of the 12 days of Christmas.

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B2 christmas nicholas mince mistletoe meaning wine

The story behind 12 Christmas words and traditions | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/12/24
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