Christmas Slang Special – What is the meaning of Yule, Xmas and Chrimbo?

Hello and welcome back to a very special episode of Slang with me Louisa May Adams.

This show will give you the chance to hear, understand the origins and meanings of new slang and to use them immediately!

For the next two weeks every episode is dedicated to British Christmas slang.Today we will be starting with different words for the winter season. So let’s get started.

Christmas is a time for friends, food and fun but if you are in a non native English speaker, enjoying all three of these things may be a challenge if you don’t know how to express yourself!

To start off, Brits have found a way of making just the word Christmas confusing:

  • Xmas
  • Chrimbo
  • Yule!
    Which is correct and what do they mean?

You may have heard Christmas, but perhaps not xmas X-M-A-S. In fact Xmas does not come from British people being lazy and when spelling Christmas but in fact, in Greek, the letter X or Chi is the first letter of the word for “Christ”. The suffix “mas” is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass. Both Christmas and Xmas have the most religious connotations out of all the words used in this season.

So where do “Chrimbo” and “Yule” fit in?

“Yule” Y-U-L-E is the pagan celebration of the winter solstice and has been around much longer than father Christmas and Rudolph . Yule celebrations were first recorded in 1475. The Yuletide season lasts from the end of November to the beginning weeks of January. Yule celebrations include traditions like mistletoe and decorating trees, traditions we still use today. So in fact Christmas hijacked many of these traditions.

Chrimbo spelt C-H-R-I-M-B-O is much more modern and was first used in 1929. Today it symbolizes the more commercial side of Christmas. John Lennon also used the version Crimble C-R-I-M-B-L-E in the Beatles’ song about Christmas, titled “Happy Crimble”.

Ok so now we know how to refer to Christmas, but on these days how to we great each other? Here are some options for you..

We can say:

  • “Merry Christmas!”
  • “Happy Christmas!”
  • “Winter wishes!”
  • Or “seasons greetings!”

So have a think, this year are you celebrating Chrimbo, Christmas, Yule or Xmas?

That’s our episode of the day, remember this is the first of four Christmas Specials so tune in on Wednesday to hear about British winter holidays and celebrations.

You can find us on our website and from there you can see our transcript and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and many more apps.

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