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Where do some of our Christmas words come from?

Discover the origins of well-known Christmas words.

With the Christmas holidays here, we have been looking at some Christmas traditions in class and we have been particularly thinking about the special words that are associated with the festive season, for example, Christmas is the "Christ Mass".

Read the definitions and match the words in the box with the missing titles and the spaces in the text. The first one has been done for you. 

      POINSETTIA    CAROL    GIFT    TURKEY    TINSEL    BAUBLE    FRANKINCENSE    EGGNOG

1. BAUBLE

Bauble derives from beaubelet, an old French word for a child’s toy or plaything, and dates back as far as the 14th century in English when it originally referred to any showy but valueless ornament.

2. ?

Christmas ________ date back to Tudor England when the word ________ could be used to refer to any celebratory song, groups of singers or musicians, or birdsong at dawn.

3. ?

The nog of ________ is an old 17th century word for strong beer once brewed in Norfolk. Christmas ________ can be traced back to an old Scandinavian word, knagg; meaning a metal peg or spur.

4. ?

________ is a fragrant resin that is obtained from the sap of the ________ tree, which has long been used to make incense. Frank is an old French word that means “high quality".

5. ?

In Old English, a ________ was specifically used for a wedding dowry and it derives from an ancient Germanic word meaning something “give”.

6. ?

________ are large, bright red "flowers" that are popular at Christmas. They are native to Mexico and are named after Joel Poinsett, a politician, who introduced the plant to the United States in the early 1800s.

7. ?

________ comes from the early 1500s and was originally the name of a fabric interwoven with gold or silver thread. It takes its name from the French word, étincelle, meaning “sparkle” or “spark".

8. ?

The first birds to be called ________ were African guinea fowl because they were imported via the country of the same name. In the 1500s when Europeans first saw big wild birds in America they thought they were the same as the birds they had seen before so they gave them the same name.

Where do some of our Christmas words come from?

Answers

1. BAUBLE

Bauble derives from beaubelet, an old French word for a child’s toy or plaything, and dates back as far as the 14th century in English when it originally referred to any showy but valueless ornament

2. CAROL

Christmas carols date back to Tudor England when the word carol could be used to refer to any celebratory song, groups of singers or musicians, or birdsong at dawn.

3. EGGNOG

The nog of eggnog is an old 17th century word for strong beer once brewed in Norfolk. Christmas eggnog can be traced back to an old Scandinavian word, knagg; meaning a metal peg or spur

4. FRANKINCENSE

Frankincense is a fragrant resin that is obtained from the sap of the frankincense tree, which has long been used to make incense. Frank is an old French word that means “high quality"

5. GIFT

In Old English, a gift was specifically used for a wedding dowry and it derives from an ancient Germanic word meaning something “give”

6. POINSETTIA

Poinsettias are large, bright red "flowers" that are popular at Christmas. They are native to Mexico and are named after Joel Poinsett, a politician, who introduced the plant to the United States in the early 1800s.

7. TINSEL

Tinsel comes from the early 1500s and was originally the name of a fabric interwoven with gold or silver thread. It takes its name from the French word, étincelle, meaning “sparkle” or “spark"

8. TURKEY

The first birds to be called turkeys were African guinea fowl because they were imported via the country of the same name. In the 1500s when Europeans first saw big wild birds in America they thought they were the same as the birds they had seen before so they gave them the same name.

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