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  1. #1
    Alex Case is offline Site Contributor
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    Default An EFL dictionary/ encyclopedia of Xmas and New Year Part Three - M to Q

    Feedback and questions please!

    Magi – Another name for the THREE WISE MEN

    Manger – The thing that the baby Jesus is said to have slept in when he first born, most famous because of the CHRISTMAS CAROL “Away in a Manger”. It is an old-fashioned word which means a thing that cows and horses eat hay from.

    Marzipan – A soft paste made from ground almonds that is used in many CHRISTMAS CAKES, including STOLLEN.

    Merry Christmas – The traditional greetings during this season, both in person and in CHRISTMAS CARDS, is “Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year”, but “Happy Christmas” is becoming more popular.

    Midnight mass – A CHRISTMAS SERVICE that takes place late at night on CHRISTMAS EVE and lasts past midnight and therefore into CHRISTMAS DAY

    Mince pies – Confusingly, mince pies are made from MINCEMEAT (which is not a kind of meat) and are not made from mince (which is a kind of meat), with pastry on the top and underneath. Each mince pie is usually the size of a cupcake and so is for one person. It is traditional to leave out a mince pie for SANTA to eat when he delivers the presents

    Mince tart – An easier to cook but less popular version of MINCE PIES, with no pastry on top. Unlike the usual way of cooking mince pies, you make one big mince tart and cut it into slices.

    Mincemeat – The filling of MINCE PIES. Confusingly, mincemeat is not meat (the kind of meat that is used in spaghetti Bolognese is called “mince” in British English), although it traditionally included it. Instead, it is a very rich mix of dried fruit, distilled spirit and spices, with suet or (nowadays) vegetable shortening (both kinds of solid fat).

    Mistletoe – A plant with white berries. A sprig (part of a branch with leaves and berries) is hung in a doorway or on the ceiling, and if someone is standing underneath it they must kiss you if you ask them to.

    Mrs Claus – The wife of SANTA CLAUS

    Mulled wine –A traditional winter drink that is made from hot wine mixed with spices,

    Myrrh – A highly valued fragrance that is said to have been on of the three gifts brought to Jesus by the THREE WISE MEN, along with FRANKINCENSE and gold.

    Naughty or nice – SANTA is only supposed to bring presents to children who have been well behaved during the year. This choice is often said to be “naughty or nice”, for example in the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

    Nativity – Things connected to the birth of Christ, for example NATIVITY PLAY and NATIVITY SCENE. The word is connected in meaning to the English word native (as in native speaker) and the Italian word from Xmas, which is “natale”.

    Nativity play – Acting out the Xmas story, usually the biggest play put on by a school and attended by most of the parents (as in the end of the film Love Actually).

    Nativity scene – A small three dimensional model of the scene of baby Jesus lying in the MANGER in the STABLE surrounded by animals, SHEPHERDS and the THREE WISE MEN. Often used as a household Xmas decoration.

    New Year’s Day – The 1st of January

    New Year’s Eve – The 31st of December. New Year is usually a time to meet friends rather than family, as Xmas is the family time. For people who are at home, there are always variety shows on TV that count down to the New Year.

    Noel – Another name for Xmas

    Ornaments (Am. Eng.) – CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

    Oxford Street – The main shopping street in London, the most famous place for CHRISTMAS LIGHTS in England

    Parsnips – Parsnips are root vegetables that look like a white carrot but taste more like sweet potato. They are usually ROASTed.

    Parson’s nose – A part near the tail of a ROAST chicken or TURKEY that some people consider to be the best part of the bird

    Party poppers – A piece of cardboard with string hanging out of it and streamers (long strips of coloured paper) and a small explosive charge inside. When you pull the string, the gunpowder explodes with a bang and the paper flies out over the room. These are often pulled at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

    Poinsettia – A plant that is popular as a CHRISTMAS DECORATION due to its festive red and green colours, which are actually the leaves of the plant rather than its flowers

    Quality Street – A brand of chocolates that come in a big tin and are most popular at Xmas time. There are twelve different types wrapped in different coloured paper.

    Queen’s speech (the) – At three o’clock in the afternoon on Xmas day the Queen of England gives a speech. In traditional families the whole family sits down to watch the speech and the rest of the day is structured around it, for example finishing CHRISTMAS DINNER before it starts and starting to open CHRISTMAS PRESENTS after it finishes.

  2. #2
    Vidor is offline Member
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    Default not a teacher

    Merry Christmas – The traditional greetings during this season, both in person and in CHRISTMAS CARDS, is “Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year”, but “Happy Christmas” is becoming more popular.
    This might be an example of what people were talking about in the other thread, re: AmE being more conservative. No one in America says "Happy Christmas".

    Mulled wine
    Never heard of this.

    Parson’s nose
    Nor this.

  3. #3
    Alex Case is offline Site Contributor
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    Default Re: An EFL dictionary/ encyclopedia of Xmas and New Year Part Three - M to Q

    Do you use the German word Gluhwein (sp?) in America, perhaps. I'd be surprised if it doesn't exist. Sure there must be some kind of word for that part of the turkey too, but I personally hate it and just throw it away so it doesn't come up in my personal conversation either...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: not a teacher

    'Parson's nose' and 'mulled' wine are well-known to me.

    I am not sure why you have singled out the brand name 'Quality Street'. Is this a brand that was popular in your family? In mine it used to be 'Black Magic', and I am sure other families have their own Christmas treat.

    Are you happy with 'Xmas' rather than 'Christmas'? Some people don't like it. It certainly deserves a mention under 'X' when you get there, but I am not sure about the regular use. Just a thought.

  5. #5
    Alex Case is offline Site Contributor
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    Default Re: An EFL dictionary/ encyclopedia of Xmas and New Year Part Three - M to Q

    For me, Black Magic and Roses could possibly be seen at other times of the year, whereas I never heard of anyone eating Quality Street outside the Christmas season...

    I've written quite a long entry on Xmas, but as you ask it seems that most people don't like it because they think it is a way of avoiding the word "Christ". While it may be used that way nowadays, especially if you actually pronounce it "ex-mas", it has a long history and simple comes from X looking like the first letter of the word Christ in Greek. I've listed things under C for Christmas, but if I have to use the word more than once in an entry I've just shortened it to the X-word

  6. #6
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    Default Re: An EFL dictionary/ encyclopedia of Xmas and New Year Part Three - M to Q

    Quote Originally Posted by alexcase View Post
    For me, Black Magic and Roses could possibly be seen at other times of the year, whereas I never heard of anyone eating Quality Street outside the Christmas season...
    Well, you've now heard of my family, and I do know of one (now not-so-) young lady whose diet would not allow her chocolates at any time of the year except Christmas, when she would gratefully accept, and scoff, a box of Dairy Box.

    Still, if you feel that Quality Street is the brand of choice for Christmas, who am I to argue?





  7. #7
    Alex Case is offline Site Contributor
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    Default Re: An EFL dictionary/ encyclopedia of Xmas and New Year Part Three - M to Q

    I'm certainly willing to start a scientific survey on the very important Quality Street question. I'll start:
    - I have never known of someone to have Quality Street at other times of year, for example Valentine's Day
    - I have known people to have Milk Tray, Roses, and Dairy Box at other times, for example Valentine's Day (as well as Xmas)

    Next surveyee please!

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