Visiting family and friends. Exchanging gifts and stories from the year ending. Spending quality time with loved ones. This is what Christmas is all about. With a tough year passed, you may even have nieces, nephews, grandchildren that you have not yet met. They are speaking their first words and you’d love to be able to teach them a few more. But English is not your first language. Perhaps you are about to have a work Christmas party and you’d like to join in on the fun with an English speaking workforce. Or maybe you are just a sucker for learning new fun phrases like we are! Here are some common words and phrases that will help you create bonds and friendships with English speaking people this time of year.
You may hear this year that the proof is in the pudding. This sounds a little absurd and when native English speakers think about it, it doesn’t make sense either! Simply put, you only know how good something is when you experience it yourself. The “pudding” is a traditional dessert eaten at Christmas. You’re more than likely to hear this from an organizer of a Christmas party or the cook for Christmas dinner.
Sometimes this dinner may not go so well. Or someone would just like to make a joke about the stuffing! They may say that it’s the thought that counts. This is used when you receive a present which is not suitable or the potatoes are a bit burnt, but it’s the kindness behind it which is important. After all, Christmas is all about giving. Sometimes we get it wrong, but that’s not the point right?
Now, most of the time your loved one will get it right with your present! You may get a nice watch or a piece of nice jewelry, even some perfume! Wrapped up, this can look very small and you may hear the common phrase being used that good things come in small packages. This means that the size of something doesn’t determine its value. This is used throughout the year and isn’t necessarily a Christmas idiom, but can be used in a Christmas setting. Remember the newborn that you are meeting for the first time? They are definitely something small in size, but with an enormous value – even the best value in the world.
Visiting family and friends abroad also comes with its strings attached. You may need to meet up with family members that are not so jolly around Christmas time. Something you may hear coming from them would be “Bah, Humbug!”. These words are also said sometimes in a jokey way by someone who doesn’t enjoy Christmas. They were originally spoken by the mean character Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol”.
When preparing for this family visit or international Christmas party, most times than not, you don’t want to turn up alone or travel by yourself. You are not sure whether you can invite your partner or friend along with you as a plus one. There are lots of things to take into account, such as an extra bed or plate for dinner. When you ask the host whether it’s ok and they reply with a “the more the merrier”, you may think to yourself.. Hmm OK, is that a yes or a no? Well, you’re in luck! It’s a yes! The more people involved in an activity, the more enjoyable it is.
Now, since we are an Irish company, we can’t not include some of our favourite idioms used in Ireland. True, for some, these may never be used, but never-the-less it’s always fun to learn!
- Like turkeys voting for an early Christmas: This means that someone is choosing to do something which will not be good for them. After all, where do turkeys usually end up on Christmas Day in Ireland?
- Stocking stuffer/filler: This is a small Christmas gift brought by Santa Claus which can be put in the traditional stocking left at chimneys by children on Christmas Eve. It has nothing to do with women’s legs and tights!
- To beat the holiday blues: Often at times like Christmas, people feel lonely or sad (‘blue’) because they miss family or friends. ‘Beating the holiday blues’ means cheering yourself up by doing positive things.
- To light up like a Christmas tree: This means that someone has dressed up in their fanciest clothes. These days, in Ireland, as you may have noticed people tend to light up like a Christmas tree by wearing Christmas jumpers.
- As full as bus: This means that someone has had a bit too much mulled wine or brandy at the Christmas party.
We hope you enjoyed some of our favourite phrases used at Christmas time. These are timeless idioms that can be used year after year and will most definitely let you enjoy Christmas and share laughter with English speakers during the holiday season.