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It's almost Yuletide! A festive time of the year, where Christmas trees are aglitter with lights, and children get presents through the chimney from Santa.

Confused by some of these words? You'll see some wonderful English Christmas words this time of year. Some are intimately associated with this festive season. Whether you are a native speaker or learning English as a second language, this list of 100 Popular Christmas Words in English (and their meaning) will help you expand your vocabulary.

What are Christmas words and phrases?

Christmas tree decorations under a arched hallway in Melbourne Australia.

So, what exactly are Christmas-themed words or phrases? There is no definitive list of all Christmas-themed words, but we've managed to list the top 100 for you below. Many specific Christmas words and phrases in English are not widely used in everyday life. Some are, many of them are not.

For example, let's take the word "merry." Dictionaries tell us that the word means happy and cheerful. You don't hear this word a lot in everyday conversation. But in December, you'll come across many people wishing you a Merry Christmas. Further down this article, we'll explain how you can use these words in your IELTS Speaking test.

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Check out our full list of 100 Christmas Words in English (and understand what they mean).

Christmas wordMeaning
25 DecemberChristmas Day
AdventThe period of four weeks before Christmas
Advent calendarAn Advent calendar is a special calendar used to mark the days leading up to Christmas
AngelA messenger from God, important around Christmas because an angel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus
AglitterSparkling or glittering, especially with reflected light (like: the Christmas tree is aglitter with lights)
BaublesA ball-shaped Christmas decoration for hanging on a tree
BirthChristmas celebrates the birth of Jesus in Christian religions
BoughsA large branch of a tree
Boxing DayThe day after Christmas. Why is it called "Boxing" day? We're not really sure
CandyAlso called lollies or sweets in Australia or the UK. Children usually get candy for Christmas
Candy canesA type of Christmas candy/lollies
CarolersPeople who sing carols
CarollingSinging carols
CarolsA happy or religious song, usually one sung at Christmas
CelebrateTo observe an event, like Christmas, with ceremonies, traditions, and festivities
CheerA shout of encouragement, praise, or joy.
ChestnutsA traditional ingredient for Christmas dishes, especially in America
ChimneySanta comes down the chimney to deliver gifts to good children
ChristmasThe annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth
Christmas CrackersA festive cardboard paper tube that make a snapping sound when pulled open, and often contain a small gift and a joke
Christmas EveThe day before Christmas
Christmas treeA real (or fake) evergreen tree that is decorated and kept in the home at Christmas
Christmas tree standA Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural or an artificial Christmas tree
Christmas SweatersA sweater (also called a jumper) is a garment themed with a Christmas or winter-style design, often worn during the festive season.
Cranberry sauceA traditional Christmas sauce, usually to accompany a turkey dish
DeckAnother word for decorating (from the song Deck the Halls)
DecoratingTo add things to an object in order to make it more attractive. Like decorating the Christmas tree with baubles
EggnogA traditional christmas a drink consisting of rum, brandy, or other alcohol mixed with beaten egg, milk, and sugar
ElfA supernatural creature of folk tales, typically represented as a small. Elves accompany Santa.
ElvesPlural of Elf
EveThe day before (Christmas)
FamilyParents, children, sibblings, etc. Usually the people you would celebrate Christmas with
Father ChristmasAnother name for Santa
FeastA large meal, typically a celebratory one (for example a Christmas feast)
FestiveCheerful and jovially celebratory, usually relating to Christmas
FrankincenseA type of incense - producing a strong aromatic scent
Frosty the SnowmanA popular Christmas song
FruitcakeA Christmas dessert
Gift-wrappingTo wrap presents in decorative paper (so the person you give the gist to doesn't know what they are getting)
Gingerbread houseA novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing
GooseBefore Turkey became a popular Christmas dish, people usually served geese (plural for goose) for Christmas dinner
GrinchA mean-spirited person who spoils the enjoyment of others (Christmas Grinch who spoils Christmas)
Ho, ho, ho!What Santa says before "Merry Christmas!"
HolidayA period of free time, also called vacation in the US
HollyA small evergreen tree with shiny, sharp leaves and small, round, red fruit. It's used for Christmas decorations
HolyRelated to religion or a god (Christmas is a holy day because it marks the birth of Jesus)
Jack FrostJack Frost represents the coming of dark, cold days, like winter in the northern hemisphere
JesusThe son of God, also called Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity
Jingle BellsFamous Christmas song
JollyHappy and cheerful
Kris KringleA game of gift-giving around Christmas
MerryAnother word for happy and cheerful
MiraclesAn unusual, mysterious, inexplicable event, usually for a good outcome
MistletoeA plant with yellowish flowers and white berries, usually associated with Christmas
MyrrhAn expensive spice, used for making perfume, incense, medicine (pronounced "mur"). It was given on Jesus' birth.
NativityWhen written with a lowercase 'n' it means the occasion of a person's birth. When you see it with a capital 'N' it means the birth of Jesus Christ
Naughty listIf you're on Santa's naughty list, you haven't been good throughout the year and may not get Christmas gifts
North PoleThe most northerly point on Earth, but also the place where Santa lives
NutcrackerNutcracker dolls (or Christmas nutcrackers) are decorative figurines most commonly made to resemble a toy soldier
OrnamentsA beautiful object, used as a decoration
PeaceFreedom from violence, especially living/working together happily without disagreements (You'll hear "Peace on Earth" a lot around Christmas)
PineconeA hard, oval "fruit" from a pine tree. Around Christmas used as a decoration.
Plum puddingA traditional Christmas dessert (fun fact: in the UK dessert is usually called pudding)
Quince pieTraditional Christmas dessert
ReindeerThe animals in front of Santa's sleigh
RejoiceTo be glad
RudolphThe name of Santa's red-nosed reindeer (there are also Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen)
Saint NicholasA Christian bishop who helped the needy. Saint Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world
Santa ClausAnther word for Santa
Santa's helpersUsually elves (but children are often given the honorary role as "Santa's little helper")
Santa's workshopThe place where Santa prepares all the presents for kids around the world
ScroogeA person who is stingy with money, a selfish person who doesn't like giving or spending
Season's greetingsSpecial well-wishes, or greetings, you give to another person
SecondsHaving another serve at dinner
Secret SantaAnonymous gift swap
SledgeA sleigh
SleighA sled or a vehicle that's drawn over snow or ice (but in Santa's case, it flies and is drawn by reindeer)
Sleigh bellsA tinkling bell attached to the harness of a sleigh horse
Snow globeA decoration made from glass or plastic, filled with a clear liquid and a substance that looks like snow (and the snow falls when shaken)
SnowballA ball made out of snow
SnowmanA figure of a person made of packed snow
SpiritThe mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time (like Christmas spirit)
St. NicksWhile Santa is named after St Nicholas (colloquially called St Nick), the birthday of this saint is on December 6.
StarThe Christmas star guided the three kings, or wise men, to the baby Jesus
StockingUsually womens garments, but around Christmas we usually mean a long sock worn by men hung up by children for Santa to fill with presents
StuffingA mixture of food that's used to fill something that is going to be eaten (like stuffing for the turkey)
TidingsNews or information, as in: the bearer of glad tidings
TinselA decoration of threads, strips, or sheets of paper, or plastic used to produce a glittering and sparkling appearance
Toy sackLarge sacks for used by Santa to put presents in
TraditionA custom or belief (like Christmas) handed down from one generation to another
TrimmingsOther foods that are served with the main dish of a meal (like Turkey with all the trimmings)
UnwrapProcess of opening (unwrapping) your Christmas presents
VacationAlso called holiday in British English
WishlistA list where people write down all the things they'd like as Christmas gifts
WreathDecorations made from evergreens to represent the everlasting life, they are usually round with no beginning or end
XmasAnother word for Christmas, usually seen in the US
YuleAnother word for Christmas
YuletideThe Christmas season

Now that you've read the list of English Christmas words, you may have found some sound familiar. That’s probably because you’ve come across them around Christmas time before. Let’s have a look at some of the lesser-known Christmas words and see how to use them in a sentence.


Let's start with a strange one: Yuletide. The word yule can be used as another name for Christmas. Tide means, among other things, a season or period in the year. So, when you combine these words, you get yuletide, which is used as another word for Christmastime, or the Christmas season. How to use Yuletide in a sentence? When you use yuletide in reference to Christmas, it tends to sound a bit old-fashioned. Check out this example:

The Yuletide colours of red and green are particularly favourite around the festive season.

'Tis the season

Another phrase you usually only hear around Christmas is 'Tis the season. ‘Tis the Season is often used to indicate that it’s a particular time of year. The “season” in this phrase refers to the time of year that spans from late November, after American Thanksgiving, to January 6. 'Tis is a contraction of it is. The apostrophe here replaces the “i” of “it”. A similar contraction is ’twas for “it was”, as in “’Twas the night before Christmas.” And how do you use this in a sentence?

“I can’t wait for some time off work.” “Yes, I know! ‘Tis the season.”


Okay, the last one is a word you might come across (but hopefully not to describe you) is a scrooge. Where does this word come from? Ebenezer Scrooge is a character in Charles Dickens' 1843 story ‘A Christmas Carol.’ At the start of the tale, Scrooge is a mean, cold-hearted person who despises Christmas. Since then, a scrooge has become synonymous with someone who is selfish and unwilling to give or spend money.

“Their friend is a real scrooge! He refuses to buy them a drink even though he can easily afford it.”

Can you use Christmas words in your IELTS test?

The IELTS Speaking test is supposed to represent a normal conversation between two people. So, you should avoid very formal language. For example, you don't usually say "furthermore" or "moreover" in everyday conversations. However, you probably also don't want to use overly informal or old-fashioned language. Slang is an example of very informal language.

Some Christmas words sound very old-fashioned, so you have to be careful when you use them in your IELTS Speaking test. First, make sure you pronounce them correctly. Second, make sure you use them appropriately and in context. Let's look at an example.

Are you after a jolly good score?

Do you remember from our full list of 100 Christmas Words in English what the word "jolly" means? It's a slightly old-fashioned word but people still use it, particularly in the UK (tip: learn this when you're thinking of moving to the UK!). You're less likely to come across this word when you want to move to Canada, Australia, the US or New Zealand. But, if tell the examiner in your Speaking test that you had "a jolly good time" instead of "a very good time," you will demonstrate a higher lexical resource. That's one of the criteria to get a higher score!

How to get a high score in IELTS Speaking?

You can get a higher IELTS band score if you show the ability to use idiomatic expressions appropriately but perhaps stick with common idiomatic expressions that are well-known. We've provided some helpful lists with our Idioms A-Z Explained.

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What's Christmas like in Australia?

Christmas in Australia is a little different from Christmas in Europe. If you've grown up in the northern hemisphere, it probably doesn't even feel like Christmas. Why? Because it's hot in Australia around Christmas. Very hot. So, nothing feels quite right. It's not cold and there's no snow (but Santa still wears his warm coat!). There are also no short, dark days. In Australia, the days are long and filled with sunshine.

I mean, let's be honest: who doesn't want to celebrate Christmas at the beach?

Christmas is an important holiday in many parts of the world, including Australia. As a result, many English words are associated with this festive season. We've listed the top 100 Popular Christmas Words in English (and their meaning) to help you expand your vocabulary.

Most of the traditions we know and are familiar with have come from the Northern Hemisphere, where kids play with snow and families feast on turkey, warm puddings and fruitcakes. Since Christmas happens during summer in Australia, we embrace the holiday season in blistering heat and get as far as we can get from long-established traditions. Let’s look at 5 of our favourite summer Christmas experiences.

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