It’s been a long month! Time to sleep it off. Happy Holidays everybody!
Yule was an ancient celebration of the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere. The sun had increased importance in the countries where the days are short and the winters long. This celebration preceded the Christian Christmas in Europe. The yuletide… Continue Reading →
Xmas is a short version of the word Christmas. As Christmas actually means the mass of Christ, some people believe that the word Xmas is a means of removing the religious meaning from the word. However it appears that Xmas… Continue Reading →
Wreaths (les Couronnes) are often used to decorate the front door during the Advent and Christmas period. The origins and traditions of wreaths are varied around the world. They are often made from evergreens (plantes sempervirentes) as they symbolise strength,… Continue Reading →
One of the great things about the Christmas period is visiting and visitors. Family, friends, neighbours, people like to visit each other for drinks or meals, or maybe even just a wintry walk. Christmas day itself is usually reserved for… Continue Reading →
Mistletoe (du gui) is a plant often used as a decoration at Christmas time. It used to be considered as bringing good luck to the household and warding off evil spirits. Nowadays it is attached to the ceiling or to… Continue Reading →
Trifle is a traditional English desert often associated with Christmas. It is made with layers of cake, fruit, custard and cream (so many different recipes possible). It should be made in a glass bowl so that it is as pretty… Continue Reading →
Unfortunately in France we don’t see Snowmen (plural) often enough at Christmas. But one of my favourite Christmas books/films/music is « The Snowman » from the book by Ramond Briggs first published in 1978. It was made into a magical television film… Continue Reading →
How would Santa manage without his Reindeer (les rennes, ou Caribou au Canada)? Did you know that reindeer became particularly popular after the poem « The Night Before Christmas » in which the reindeer are called: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid,… Continue Reading →
I grew up in Ireland where we didn’t have a monarchy. However we knew about the traditional Queen’s speech. Every Christmas day since 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has been addressing the British nation to send out her good wishes for… Continue Reading →
Yummy. You either love or hate Christmas Pudding. I love it! It is full of tasty dried fruits and alcohol and cooks for hours and hours. It is usually decorated with a sprig of holly (see H), and flambéd at… Continue Reading →
Christmas ornaments (décorations de Noël) are everywhere at this time of year. In my house we used to make a lot of our ornaments and the best ones would be kept from year to year so that the house and… Continue Reading →
When I was growing up, Neighbours (les voisins) played an important part in our Christmas celebrations. Generally on Christmas Eve, my parents would invite some neighbours to our house for drinks and Mince Pies (see M).Let’s hope COVID doesn’t prevent… Continue Reading →
Mince Pies are one of my favourite Christmas foods. The original « mincemeat pies » contained minced meat, dried fruit and spices. More recently mince pies have become sweeter, with a mixture of dried fuits, spices, sugar and of course brandy. I… Continue Reading →
Lights are an essential part of Christmas decorations. But did you know that the word « light » has many different meanings in English. Light can be used as a verb (alllumer): light a cigarette, light a fire… It is also the… Continue Reading →
Kids (les gamins) are particularly excited around Christmas. This word used especially in the US to talk about children is actually the word for baby goats (chevreaux)… This is probably no coincidence as both are lively and get up to… Continue Reading →
Christmas Jumpers have only recently become a standard Christmas item of clothing. The uglier the better. In some countries there are even Christmas jumper days (journées pull de Noël) when you are expected to wear them to work or school…. Continue Reading →
Have you ever seen a traditional English Christmas cake? It is usually decorated with white icing (glaçage) and may have little Christmas figures or decorations on it. Helping mums to make the Christmas cake was always an important time for… Continue Reading →
Holly (houx) with its dark green leaves and bright red berries is a traditional winter plant. It is often used along with Ivy (lierre) for Christmas decorations.« The Holly and the Ivy » is the name of a traditional British Christmas carol.
For sure, everybody knows Gin & Tonic. But do you know how it was invented? The British armies in India discovered that quinine could help prevent malaria (paludisme). They began adding quinine to tonic water but, to hide the horrible… Continue Reading →
Frost (givre) is what makes the world look white when the night has been very cold (not snow). People often make decorations with fake frost to give a winter atmosphere for Christmas.
Ding Dong Merrily on High is one of my favourite Christmas hymns. In Ireland throughout the Christmas period these traditional songs can be heard in churches and concert halls during religious or non religious moments. Groups of singers used to… Continue Reading →
Christmas Crackers (Papillote surprise en français) are a staple at the Christmas dinner table. They are pulled apart with a resounding « cracking » sound at the beginning of the meal and usually contain a small toy, a joke and a colourful… Continue Reading →
What would Christmas be without brandy butter? This sweet « sauce » which melts deliciously on hot pudding or mince pies is made with butter, icing sugar and brandy. C’est tellement anglais qu’il n’y a pas de traduction !
Advent (Avent en français) is the Christian period of waiting before the arrival of Jesus Christ. Traditionally Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas but people now tend to consider the 1st of December as the starting date.
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E – Evergreen
Evergreen (sempervirent ou feuillage persistant en français). The Christmas tree or fir tree is an Evergreen. This means that it remains green all year round. Trees that lose their leaves are known as deciduous.