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Three wise men – Three kings from the East who are supposed to have visited the baby Jesus bringing presents of gold, FRANKINCENSE and MYRRH. In Spain, Xmas presents are said to be brought by the three wise men (rather than by Santa). Although there are no names in the Bible, they are commonly called Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar. They are a common part of a NATIVITY SCENE. Also known as the MAGI.

Tinsel – The small pieces of multicoloured shiny foil that are used as DECORATIONS, especially by putting them over the branches of a CHRISTMAS TREE

Trafalgar Square – The square in front of the National Gallery in London with Nelson’s Column in it. It is the venue of the most famous public New Year’s party in England.

Turkey – A bird that is much bigger than a chicken and is usually ROASTed whole in the oven along with ROAST POTATOES and other vegetables such as PARSNIPS, and eaten for CHRISTMAS DINNER. As a turkey is so large, it often also has to be eaten in various other forms (e.g. sandwiches, salads, curry) over the following meals and days. It has the same name as Turkey the country because when the bird was discovered in America it reminded people of a similar bird in Anatolia.

Twelve days of Christmas (the) – The holiday season traditionally lasted for twelve days starting on Christmas Day, hence the song about “a partridge in a pair tree” etc. It is still considered unlucky to leave your CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS up past the twelfth day of Christmas,

White Christmas – A CHRISTMAS DAY on which it snows, or maybe just on which there is snow is lying on the ground. It is also a famous CHRISTMAS SONG sung by Bing Crosby.

Wise men – See THREE WISE MEN

Wish bone – A V-shaped bone at the front of a TURKEY or chicken. If two people take the two parts of the V shape and pull, the person who gets the bigger portion of the bone when it breaks is said to be able to make a wish.

Wrapping paper – The coloured paper that is put around Christmas presents so that people can’t see what is inside until they are opened. At Christmas the paper usually has a seasonal pattern on it, e.g. HOLLY or REINDEER, so birthday present wrapping paper can’t usually be used. It is better to wrap it yourself, however messily, rather than having it wrapped at the shop you buy it at (if such a service is available). It is good manners to tear it off enthusiastically to show how much you are looking forward to the present, although some older people do try to save and reuse wrapping paper

Wreath – A circular arrangement of leaves and flowers that is usually hung on the front door

Xmas – Many people assume this short form is a way of avoiding the religious meaning of Christmas, but actually it is common Christian shorthand based on the first letter of the name Christ in Greek. Actually pronouncing the word “ex-mas” is more recent, however, and might well be a sign of the SECULARISATION of the holiday.

Yule – A pagan (= pre-Christian) festival that eventually merged with Xmas, so that “YULETIDE” now means the same as Christmas

Yule log – A piece of wood that was traditionally burnt over the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS for good luck, now mainly only seen in the shape of a CHRISTMAS LOG. Also known as a Yuletide log.

Yuletide – See YULE