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    An EFL A to Z of Xmas and the New Year Part Four - R and S

    Corrections, clarifications, expansions and requests for any of those things gratefully accepted:

    Reindeer – The animals with big antlers (a kind of horn) who are supposed to pull SANTA’s SLEIGH across the sky when he is delivering presents. The names of Santa’s reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and RUDOLPH. There are large populations of real reindeer live in Norway, Finland, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska and Canada.

    ROAST (n) – A meal in which the meat and some of the vegetables are ROASTed, traditionally eaten in Britain every Sunday and on CHRISTMAS DAY. The meat on Xmas day is usually TURKEY.

    ROAST (v) – Covering something in fat (oil or solid fat such as lard) and cooking it in the oven. This is different from baking (which is cooking something dry in the oven) and frying (which is cooking with fat in a frying pan on the stove, not in the oven). A traditional Sunday dinner in Britain is usually called a “Sunday roast”, and the meat, potatoes and some other vegetables are all roasted together. CHRISTMAS DINNER is bigger but cooked in the same way. The meat can take a long time to cook this way, so the family traditionally go to church, for a walk or to the pub and then come back home when it is nearly ready.

    Roast parsnips – See PARSNIPS

    Roast potatoes – Potatoes which are covered in fat and cooked inside the oven, often next to the meat. This makes them brown and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Some families also have mashed or boiled potatoes as part of their CHRISTMAS DINNER

    Roast turkey – See ROAST and TURKEY

    Robin – A small, red-breasted bird that is very common on CHRISTMAS CARDS, perhaps because its red breast stands out in the snow or because it is one of the few birds which doesn’t migrate away in the winter.

    Rudolph (the Red-nosed Reindeer) – In the story and song, Rudolph was a REINDEER who was teased by the other reindeer for having a glowing nose (like a light bulb), until one day SANTA asked him to help light the way of his SLEIGH.

    Santa – A short form of SANTA CLAUS

    Santa’s elves – See ELVES

    Santa Claus – The most common name for the fat man with red and white clothes and a white beard who delivers presents on CHRISTMAS EVE on his SLEIGH pulled by REINDEER, coming down the CHIMNEY to leave them in children’s STOCKINGS. The name Santa Claus comes from the Dutch version of ST NICHOLAS and is often shortened to SANTA. He is also sometimes known as KRIS KRINGLE. The name Santa Claus was originally American English, but has spread all over the world. Although the British FATHER CHRISTMAS was originally a different character, the two myths have merged. He is helped by ELVES and is sometimes said to have a wife, MRS CLAUS.

    Scrooge – Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly (= mean, the opposite of generous) character in the Charles Dickens book CHRISTMAS CAROL.

    Season’s greetings – A greeting, usually in CHRISTMAS CARDS but also sometimes in person. It can be used in place of MERRY CHRISTMAS, either to include other holidays such as New Year or to avoid being specific to one religion. See also HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

    Secret Santa – A system by which each person is randomly given a name and only has to by a present for that one person, which is given anonymously or marked “from SANTA”. A budget is usually set for each present to make sure the system is fair. This is most common in office CHRISTMAS PARTIES, but can also be done between friends or family.

    Secularisation – The process by which the original meaning of Christmas (Jesus’ birthday) is being lost, often due to the COMMERCIALISATION of Xmas or due to specific policies by educational authorities etc that are meant to save offending people of other or no religion. See also SEASON’S GREETINGS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

    Shepherd – A person who looks after sheep and takes them from place to place. Shepherds were supposed to have visited to baby Jesus in the STABLE, and so they are usually part of a NATIVITY SCENE and a NATIVITY PLAY. They can be identified by their shabby clothes (unlike the THREE KINGS) and a bent stick called a crook.

    Sleigh – A kind of carriage for snowy weather that SANTA sits on to be pulled by his REINDEER, usually shown flying with lots of CHRISTMAS PRESENTS in it.

    St Nicholas – The name SANTA CLAUS originally comes from Saint Nicholas, who lived in modern Turkey in the 4th century. The story that connects him to the modern Santa is that he left presents for people.

    Stable – In the CHRISTMAS STORY, Jesus was born in a place where animals usually slept as there was “no room at the inn”. In modern English the word “stable” is only used to talk about the place where horses sleep, but in a NATIVITY SCENE Jesus is usually shown surrounded by cows etc.

    Star – In the original Xmas story the THREE WISE MEN were led to the STABLE where the baby Jesus was born by a star. A star is therefore a common Xmas motif, for example at the top of a CHRISTMAS TREE or on CHRISTMAS CARDS.

    Stollen – A German dried fruit cake that often includes MARZIPAN. It has some similarities to a British CHRISTMAS CAKE but is smaller, less dark and less rich, and is sprinkled with icing sugar rather than covered with a layer of icing. It is becoming increasingly popular at Xmas outside Germany, e.g. in the UK and Japan.

    Stuffing – Before a TURKEY is ROASTed, its insides are taken out and replaced with stuffing. This gives flavour to the meat and absorbs the juices which come off the meat as it is cooking. Stuffing for a bird such as turkey is mainly made from breadcrumbs, along with some flavourings such as onions, herbs and spices. The stuffing is removed from the bird before it is CARVEd and eaten as part of the meal. It is also possible to cook the stuffing outside the bird.

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