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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 word

Meaning

25 December

Christmas Day

Advent

The period of four weeks before Christmas

Advent calendar

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to mark the days leading up to Christmas

Angel

A messenger from God, important around Christmas because an angel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus

Aglitter

Sparkling or glittering, especially with reflected light (like: the Christmas tree is aglitter with lights)

Baubles

A ball-shaped Christmas decoration for hanging on a tree

Birth

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus in Christian religions

Boughs

A large branch of a tree

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas. Why is it called "Boxing" day? We're not really sure

Candy

Also called lollies or sweets in Australia or the UK. Children usually get candy for Christmas

Candy canes

A type of Christmas candy/lollies

Carolers

People who sing carols

Carolling

Singing carols

Carols

A happy or religious song, usually one sung at Christmas

Celebrate

To observe an event, like Christmas, with ceremonies, traditions, and festivities

Cheer

A shout of encouragement, praise, or joy.

Chestnuts

A traditional ingredient for Christmas dishes, especially in America

Chimney

Santa comes down the chimney to deliver gifts to good children

Christmas

The annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth

Christmas Crackers

A festive cardboard paper tube that make a snapping sound when pulled open, and often contain a small gift and a joke

Christmas Eve

The day before Christmas

Christmas tree

A real (or fake) evergreen tree that is decorated and kept in the home at Christmas

Christmas tree stand

A Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural or an artificial Christmas tree

Christmas Sweaters

A sweater (also called a jumper) is a garment themed with a Christmas or winter-style design, often worn during the festive season.

Cranberry sauce

A traditional Christmas sauce, usually to accompany a turkey dish

Deck

Another word for decorating (from the song Deck the Halls)

Decorating

To add things to an object in order to make it more attractive. Like decorating the Christmas tree with baubles

Eggnog

A traditional christmas a drink consisting of rum, brandy, or other alcohol mixed with beaten egg, milk, and sugar

Elf

A supernatural creature of folk tales, typically represented as a small. Elves accompany Santa.

Elves

Plural of Elf

Eve

The day before (Christmas)

Family

Parents, children, sibblings, etc. Usually the people you would celebrate Christmas with

Father Christmas

Another name for Santa

Feast

A large meal, typically a celebratory one (for example a Christmas feast)

Festive

Cheerful and jovially celebratory, usually relating to Christmas

Frankincense

A type of incense - producing a strong aromatic scent

Frosty the Snowman

A popular Christmas song

Fruitcake

A Christmas dessert

Gift-wrapping

To wrap presents in decorative paper (so the person you give the gist to doesn't know what they are getting)

Gingerbread house

A novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing

Goose

Before Turkey became a popular Christmas dish, people usually served geese (plural for goose) for Christmas dinner

Grinch

A mean-spirited person who spoils the enjoyment of others (Christmas Grinch who spoils Christmas)

Ho, ho, ho!

What Santa says before "Merry Christmas!"

Holiday

A period of free time, also called vacation in the US

Holly

A small evergreen tree with shiny, sharp leaves and small, round, red fruit. It's used for Christmas decorations

Holy

Related to religion or a god (Christmas is a holy day because it marks the birth of Jesus)

Jack Frost

Jack Frost represents the coming of dark, cold days, like winter in the northern hemisphere

Jesus

The son of God, also called Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity

Jingle Bells

Famous Christmas song

Jolly

Happy and cheerful

Kris Kringle

A game of gift-giving around Christmas

Merry

Another word for happy and cheerful

Miracles

An unusual, mysterious, inexplicable event, usually for a good outcome

Mistletoe

A plant with yellowish flowers and white berries, usually associated with Christmas

Myrrh

An expensive spice, used for making perfume, incense, medicine (pronounced "mur"). It was given on Jesus' birth.

Nativity

When 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 list

If you're on Santa's naughty list, you haven't been good throughout the year and may not get Christmas gifts

North Pole

The most northerly point on Earth, but also the place where Santa lives

Nutcracker

Nutcracker dolls (or Christmas nutcrackers) are decorative figurines most commonly made to resemble a toy soldier

Ornaments

A beautiful object, used as a decoration

Peace

Freedom from violence, especially living/working together happily without disagreements (You'll hear "Peace on Earth" a lot around Christmas)

Pinecone

A hard, oval "fruit" from a pine tree. Around Christmas used as a decoration.

Plum pudding

A traditional Christmas dessert (fun fact: in the UK dessert is usually called pudding)

Presents

Gifts

Quince pie

Traditional Christmas dessert

Reindeer

The animals in front of Santa's sleigh

Rejoice

To be glad

Rudolph

The name of Santa's red-nosed reindeer (there are also Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen)

Saint Nicholas

A 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 Claus

Anther word for Santa

Santa's helpers

Usually elves (but children are often given the honorary role as "Santa's little helper")

Santa's workshop

The place where Santa prepares all the presents for kids around the world

Scrooge

A person who is stingy with money, a selfish person who doesn't like giving or spending

Season's greetings

Special well-wishes, or greetings, you give to another person

Seconds

Having another serve at dinner

Secret Santa

Anonymous gift swap

Sledge

A sleigh

Sleigh

A sled or a vehicle that's drawn over snow or ice (but in Santa's case, it flies and is drawn by reindeer)

Sleigh bells

A tinkling bell attached to the harness of a sleigh horse

Snow globe

A decoration made from glass or plastic, filled with a clear liquid and a substance that looks like snow (and the snow falls when shaken)

Snowball

A ball made out of snow

Snowman

A figure of a person made of packed snow

Spirit

The mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time (like Christmas spirit)

St. Nicks

While Santa is named after St Nicholas (colloquially called St Nick), the birthday of this saint is on December 6.

Star

The Christmas star guided the three kings, or wise men, to the baby Jesus

Stocking

Usually womens garments, but around Christmas we usually mean a long sock worn by men hung up by children for Santa to fill with presents

Stuffing

A mixture of food that's used to fill something that is going to be eaten (like stuffing for the turkey)

Tidings

News or information, as in: the bearer of glad tidings

Tinsel

A decoration of threads, strips, or sheets of paper, or plastic used to produce a glittering and sparkling appearance

Toy sack

Large sacks for used by Santa to put presents in

Tradition

A custom or belief (like Christmas) handed down from one generation to another

Trimmings

Other foods that are served with the main dish of a meal (like Turkey with all the trimmings)

Unwrap

Process of opening (unwrapping) your Christmas presents

Vacation

Also called holiday in British English

Wishlist

A list where people write down all the things they'd like as Christmas gifts

Wreath

Decorations made from evergreens to represent the everlasting life, they are usually round with no beginning or end

Xmas

Another word for Christmas, usually seen in the US

Yule

Another word for Christmas

Yuletide

The 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.

Yuletide

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.”

Scrooge

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?

Celebrating Christmas in Australia | IELTS

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.

Migrate to Australia with IELTS