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    #1

    Christmas related expressions and rites

    1. In my country we place gifts for one another (both adults and children) under the
    Christmas tree. We then use an expression (literally translated):

    - what have you been given under the Christmas tree? (meaning: what presents were
    placed for you there)

    Is a similar custom observed in English speaking countries. If it is, what expression is commonly used in the above context?

    2. We use the word "wigilia" in place of the English "eve". Does the English word "eve"
    have anything to do with "vigil"?

    3. Do Christians in English speaking countries sit to Christmas supper around the time
    the first stars become (normally) visible in the sky, as Christians in Poland do?

    4. Is there a custom to exchange greetings and share/break wafer while doing so,
    immediately prior to eating Christmas supper?

    5. Is abstinence from meat observed on Christmas Eve?

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    1. What did Santa bring you? (Sounds a little nicer than the also common "What did you get for Christmas?")

    2. Not that I know of.

    3. I've never heard of this. What is the significance of the stars?

    4. We say "Merry Christmas" of course - but I'm familiar with a wafer.

    5. Some people have this thing called the "feast of the fish(es)" for Christmas Eve, but it's never been something I've observed.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    1. You might hear "What did you find under the tree?"

    2. No, but we Catholics do refer to "vigil" Masses (the night before, e.g. Saturday night for Sunday)

    3. Different people eat at different times. I know some eat on Christmas Eve after going to Church. Most have a big meal on the evening of Christmas.

    4. I don't do it, but you can buy such wafers called "oplatki" at my church, so there must be many who do.

    5. Not by me and not required by the Church. Many Italian-Americans have 7 fishes at their feast, but I don't know if they abstain from meat for the whole day.

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    #4

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post

    1. What did Santa bring you? (Sounds a little nicer than the also common "What did you get for Christmas?")

    3. I've never heard of this. What is the significance of the stars?

    4. We say "Merry Christmas" of course - but I'm familiar with a wafer.
    1. Come to think of it, Santa is responsible for deliveries of gifts (placed under the Christmas Tree)
    also in my country.

    3. The first star (actually the planet Venus) is a reference to the star seen above Betlehem by Three
    Kings (when Christ was born).

    4. The exchange of greetings goes further than just saying "Merry Christmas" here. People wish each
    other good health, happiness, prosperity etc. and the process of mutual wishes may take up to a
    minute of two ... while the ritual delicacies on the table tantalize everybody .

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    1. You might hear "What did you find under the tree?"
    Right - I wish I'd thought of that one too.


    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post

    4. I don't do it, but you can buy such wafers called "oplatki" at my church, so there must be many who do.
    Is this a Catholic thing? I'm totally unfamiliar with it.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post

    4. I don't do it, but you can buy such wafers called "oplatki" at my church, so there must be many who do.
    Oplatki? Why, this is a Polish word! (in singular form: oplatek) meaning "wafer" or "altar bread". This suggests that this particular custom was taken to the US by the Polish i/emigrants. I am glad I asked and equally glad that you cared to answer.

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    #7

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    Oplatki? Why, this is a Polish word! (in singular form: oplatek) meaning "wafer" or "altar bread". This suggests that this particular custom was taken to the US by the Polish i/emigrants. I am glad I asked and equally glad that you cared to answer.
    Yes, there are plenty of people here who have Polish ancestry.

    Christmas wafer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It seems this tradition is from a few eastern European countries.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    1. In my country we place gifts for one another (both adults and children) under the
    Christmas tree. We then use an expression (literally translated):

    - what have you been given under the Christmas tree? (meaning: what presents were
    placed for you there)

    Is a similar custom observed in English speaking countries. If it is, what expression is commonly used in the above context?

    2. We use the word "wigilia" in place of the English "eve". Does the English word "eve"
    have anything to do with "vigil"?

    3. Do Christians in English speaking countries sit to Christmas supper around the time
    the first stars become (normally) visible in the sky, as Christians in Poland do?

    4. Is there a custom to exchange greetings and share/break wafer while doing so,
    immediately prior to eating Christmas supper?

    5. Is abstinence from meat observed on Christmas Eve?
    1. I probably wouldn't mention the tree when asking people about their presents. "What did you get for Christmas?" I might ask children "What did Santa bring you?"

    2. Not as far as I know.

    3. In the UK, people sit down to Christmas dinner any time between about 12 noon and 7pm as far as I can tell. When I was a child, we used to eat around 2pm, at a relative's house in later years, it was about 4pm. This year I have no idea as I'm going to another relative's house and I don't know what time they're planning to eat. It used to be traditional to eat around 2pm so that lunch was over just in time for the Queen's speech (a televised address to the nation by the Queen) at 3pm. I don't know anyone who watches it though.

    4. There may be in religious households. I don't know. I come from a long line of atheists so we just sit down at the table and start stuffing our faces with enough food to feed a small country (which rather embarrasses me sometimes).

    5. Again, if that's a religious thing, some people might do it. I abstain from meat all the time but I've been vegetarian for 22 years!
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #9

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    2. We use the word "wigilia" in place of the English "eve". Does the English word "eve"
    have anything to do with "vigil"?
    Oxford don't think so:

    Origin:


    late Middle English (in the sense 'close of day'): short form of even 2
    Definition of eve - period, day and christian (British & World English)

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    #10

    Re: Christmas related expressions and rites

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post

    Oxford don't think so:
    Indeed it looks like the two words have nothing in common etymologically but there seems to exist a semantic connection. Please look here:

    Definition of vigil - period, protest and politics (British & World English)

    However from teachers' comments in this thread I understand that not even a semantic connection between "eve" and "vigil" is commonly recognized among English native speakers.

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