Why is the word ‘ Christmas ‘ often shortened to ‘ Xmas ‘ ?
Answer : In the Greek alphabet, X is the symbol for the letter ‘chi.’ Chi (or X) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. In the early days of the Christian church, Christians used the letter X as a secret symbol to indicate their membership in the church to others.
If you know the Greek meaning of X, Xmas and Christmas essentially mean the same thing: Christ + mas = Christmas.
Some other unusual Christmas words :
The sound you make when walking over semi-frozen snow; ‘crumping over the hills’ or ‘he crumped sadly down the garden’.
A large ball of snow made by rolling a smaller ball of snow around a field until it grows in size. Often used as the body of a snowman, or a lethally large snowball for folks you don’t like.
‘Yule’ derives from an Old Norse word ‘jol’, which was one of the names given to a twelve-day festival celebrated by the Scandinavian and Teutonic peoples of Northern Europe. It\’s believed to have its etymology in the word ‘Jolnir’; one of the names and epithets of the Norse god Odin.
The extra hole you have to make on your belt after indulging at Christmas dinner, or over the festive period in general.
Yuleshard or Yule-Jade
Somebody who leaves a lot of work to do until the last thing before Christmas. See also: your dad getting everybody presents from the local gas station because he didn’t leave the house to start his Christmas shopping until 5.35pm on the 24th of December.
Carrying a present in your arms.
This one’s an adventure. The ‘nog’ part of Eggnog comes from a seventeenth-century word for a strong beer or ale, once brewed in the East of England– but that ‘nog’ actually comes from an even older Scots word ‘nugg’ or ‘nugh’, a term for beer warmed by putting a red-hot poker into it. And ‘nugg’ comes from an even, even older Old Norse word, ‘knagg’, for a metal peg or spur, kind of like a fore poker.
The ‘egg’ part of Eggnong comes from the fact it has egg in it.
A heavy fall on icy ground, literally to ‘drop your apples’, from a nineteenth-century Lincolnshire dialect. A peck is an archaic unit of measurement used to weigh out large quantities of produce equal to around two gallons.
1940s slang for a cheap or useless present; a reference to the habit of gifting socks.
We’ve all been guilty of a festive scurryfunge – it means to hastily and sloppily tidy up when about to receive unexpected company, to preserve the illusion that you inhabit a tidy home.
A word borrowed from the Manx dialect from the Isle of Man, a Quaaltagh is the first person to enter your house on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day morning. They were believed to have a bearing on the luck that the household would see for the coming year, and often if somebody suspected that they’d be the Quaaltagh wherever they were visiting, would take a gift of whiskey or coal with them to bring goodwill to the house for the next season.
A light covering of snow, a smattering.
Made to feel sick through over-indulgence in food; for example: ‘that last helping of turkey curry has me absolutely kedge-gutted’.
A word from the 1500s and the preclude to feeling a bit kedge-gutted; a meal that’s guaranteed to raise a smile, full of rich and unhealthy foods.
To whullup somebody is, according to the Old English dialect, to bestow gifts upon them in an attempt to curry favour with them, or receive goods in kind that might benefit you or your station. Similar to ‘buttering them up’, but in a very specifically gift-giving sense.
A fondness for buying things, especially things that aren’t vital or you don’t really need.
Charette, or Nuit de Charette
Literally ‘Chariot’ or ‘Night of the Chariot’ in French, it’s used to describe any last-minute push towards a work goal, particularly at festive season. It comes from an old practice in Parisian art schools in December the nineteenth century, where a wheeled chariot would be trundled between desks for students to submit their work into as they worked all night towards their deadlines. Anything not on the chariot by the end of the night wouldn’t be marked towards their final grade; hence ‘night of the chariot’.
Similar to Nuit de Charette, Bull Week or ‘To Get the Bull Down’ means to complete extra work the week before Christmas. It comes from a practice seen in nineteenth-century cutlery factories in Sheffield, UK, where workers were rewarded for completing extra work in the run-up towards Christmas with the promise of a whole roast bull delivered to their family home.
It’s not a plum – in fact, it’s not a fruit of any kind. It’s actually a layered hard candy ball sometimes embellished with nuts or spices, more akin to a gobstopper than the sugared fruit we’d expect it to be. The name comes from the fact that they were often the size of a plum, and other names include ‘sugar ball’ and ‘plum lozenge’.