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20 English Christmas Holiday Words

Do you celebrate the Christmas holiday? 

No matter how you celebrate (or whether you do at all), you might be familiar with one or two of the Christmas traditions and symbols that are often shown in English advertisements, movies, and TV shows. 

But do you know the English words for these Christmas things? 

Let’s go through some typical Christmas holiday vocabulary so you can check your knowledge!

1. Advent calendar

→ A calendar that is used to count down the days to Christmas, usually containing an image or small gift for each day.

When I was young, I used to love eating a chocolate from my advent calendar every day until Christmas!

2. Candy cane

→ A cane-shaped hard candy, usually striped and often mint-flavoured

I like all flavours of candy canes but my favourites are the cherry ones.

3. Chimney

→ A tall, narrow pipe on a building where smoke exits into the outside air

Every Christmas, children wait for Santa Claus to come down their chimneys to deliver presents.

4. Christmas carols

→ Songs that are played and sung at Christmas time

Some people only listen to Christmas carols on December 25th, but I like to listen to them for the whole month of December.

5. Christmas cracker

→ A paper table decoration that makes a snapping sound when broken apart, usually containing a small toy, a paper crown, and a joke

After Christmas dinner, everyone opens a Christmas cracker and puts on a colourful paper crown.

6. Christmas Eve

→ The night before Christmas; December 24

My family’s Christmas Eve tradition is to wear matching pajamas and watch a Christmas movie together.

7. Christmas tree

→ A tree (usually a pine tree or other evergreen tree) that is placed in the home and decorated for Christmas; can be real or artificial (not real)

I prefer having an artificial Christmas tree because real trees shed their needles and need to be watered.

8. Eggnog

→ A sweet drink containing eggs, cream, sugar, and often alcohol, such as rum

Eggnog is a very popular drink at Christmas parties, but I find it much too sweet. 

9. Gingerbread house

→ A small house made of spiced, baked cookie dough and decorated with icing and candies

We decorate a gingerbread house every December and then immediately start to eat all of the candies off of it.

10. Mistletoe

→ A small plant that’s hung in a doorway during Christmas under which two people are expected to kiss

Be careful not to stand under the mistletoe—you might have to kiss someone!

11. Mulled wine

→ A hot drink made of wine, liquor, fruit, and spices

My favourite winter drink is mulled wine because it can warm you up on a cold night.

12. Ornament

→ A small object that’s used to make something look more beautiful

Our Christmas tree looks so pretty! We’ve decorated it with colourful, sparkly ornaments.

13. Present

→ Something that you give someone; a gift

Children are often told that if they’re bad, they won’t get any Christmas presents.

14. Reindeer

→ A type of deer that lives in northern parts of the world

I’ve heard stories and songs about Santa’s magical flying reindeer, but I’ve never seen a real one before. 

15. Santa Claus

→ An imaginary man in a red suit who travels around the world to deliver gifts to children on Christmas

It can be hard for children to sleep on Christmas Eve as they wait for Santa Claus to come bring them gifts. 

16. Sleigh 

→ A type of open vehicle that’s pulled by animals, usually across ice or snow 

Santa Claus travels around on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer to deliver presents every Christmas

17. Stocking

→ A large sack shaped like a sock that is filled with small gifts on Christmas 

My mom always used to put a small orange at the bottom of our Christmas stockings when we were young.

18. Stocking stuffers

→ Small gifts that are put inside a Christmas stocking 

Common stocking stuffers in my family are chocolates, nuts, toothbrushes, and chewing gum.

19. Wish list

→ A list of gifts that someone would like to receive for Christmas

Did you finish writing your wish list so Santa Claus knows what you want for Christmas? 

20. Wreath

Flowers, leaves, fruits, etc. that are arranged in the shape of a circle and used as decoration

I love walking around the neighbourhood at Christmas to see the beautiful wreaths on people’s doors.

Happy holidays!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.