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Showing posts from December, 2021

Ten most used verbs in English?

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Photo by  Brett Jordan  on  Unsplash

What letters are used most frequently in English?

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Why is English not the official language of England?

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When did January 1st become New Year's Day?

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What is Hogmanay?

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Why Boxing Day?

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  The 26th of December is the Feast of Stephen , a day on which Christians pay respect to the the first Christian martyr. In the church calendar, St Stephen's Day is associated with alms:  collecting money for the poor In England, parish churches would alms boxes would be brought into the church  during December. They alms boxes would then be broken open on Stephen's Day -   listen here .  Pepys refers to this in his  diary entry for 19 December 1663. Workers' Holiday The day also became associated with recreational and sporting events. These included chaotic 'football' matches between villages. By the Nineteenth Century this had evolved into a secular festival for workers. The name Boxing Day was made official in the 1830s and became a public holiday in the 1880s. Ireland The initial religious association of St. Stephen’s Day (Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) retained a stronger cultural resonance in Ireland. The tradition of v isiting neighbours with gifts of food and drink, i

Where does the word nativity come from?

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The word derives from the Latin 'natal' meaning birth (1200–50;  ME nativite < OF nativité < LL nātīvitās)

Who was King Wenceslas? And the the Feast of Stephen?

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When did we start saying Merry Christmas?

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"Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart ."    A Christmas Carol (1843)

Most popular Christmas poem in the English language?

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There are strong showings by Dylan Thomas, Christina Rossetti, Thomas Hardy and many others. In the USA, however, the runaway winner concerns a guy in a red suit. "A Visit from St. Nicholas", also known as "The Night Before Christmas" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, although the claim has also been made that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr. The poem, which has been called "arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American",[1] is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. And no doubt, either, as to which has become the most popular reading. In one of his last recordings, Louis Armstrong beautifully evokes the childhood he never experienced. Take it away, Sachmo.  

Did Dickens invent Christmas?

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Christmas celebrates  a certain event in Bethlehem , as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.  But the  immediate and enduring success  of   A Christmas Carol  (1843) has played  an important role in shaping the secular elements of the modern festival.   Read More A Christmas Carol Audiobook (abridged)   Fred & the Christmas Ghost? (playscript/worksheet) English Language Teaching Pack     -  only £1.99 

How did The Beatles get their name?

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The their early press interviews The Beatles were repeatedly asked about their name - particularly its unorthodox spelling. They gave many different and often contradictory explanations. This one, given by John Lennon, is particularly implausible.

How has Latin influenced the English language?

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Contrary to common belief, Latin has not had a major influence on the structure of the English language or its grammar.

Irish English: What is cat melodeon?

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Don't shoot me I'm only the piano accordion player! Cat (a): dreadful, no good, awful, very bad. Or for a more emphatic version,  Cat melodeon ( Sounds like 'melojen') So what were the 2016 European Championships like then? To use a technical term popular in rural Sligo, cat melodeon.  Eamon Sweeeny, The Irish Independent, 2016 Bernard Share’s dictionary of Irish slang  Slanguage quotes Victoria White in the Irish Times calling cat melodeon “the greatest expression in Hiberno-English.”  The word cat  is used to express disappointment in the quality of something: the food is cat in that place. Where does Cat Melodeon come from? The Cat Melodeon players In his book on Irish traditional music, Ciaran Carson suggests it is a joking reference to the  musicianship:  of  piano-accordion players (who often refer to their instruments as melodeons) to play two notes at once.   Source     As the nephew of a fine melodeon player, I think this is cat altogether  -   you throw

What is Hanukkah? Why the different spellings?

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Hanukkah is a Jewish religious festival that begins in late November or early December.

'Bah! Humbug!'? What is humbug?

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‘Bah!’ said Scrooge. ‘Humbug! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money?  For finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?' Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash For Scrooge (and Scrooge McDuck!)  Christmas is 'humbug'. In the modern sense of the term, 'humbug' is roughly synonymous with the more recent 'virtue signalling'. In other words, insincere or hypocritical speech aimed at gaining social acceptance. Was Scrooge an early opponent of virtue signalling? Not exactly. Scrooge's complaint is more against the idea of charity itself. He sees this as a fraudulent commercial trick aimed at 'picking a man's pocket'.  The poor, he argues, are the responsibility of the prisons and workhouses. This view contrasts with that of Scrooge's nephew, Fred: 'Christmas is a good time - a kind, forgiving, charitable time' But what is a humbug?   In British English, a striped candy/sweet.  It's boil

What is Advent? Where does the word come from

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Photo by  Milada Vigerova  on  Unsplash The word Advent   originates in the Latin word for 'coming'. It describes the immediate period leading up to the birth of Christ.  In the church calendar, this starts on the Sunday nearest to November 30 - November 28 in 2021.  Unsuprisingly, Advent culminates on Christmas Day Church customs Photo by  Grant Whitty  on  Unsplash The lighting of the Advent candle is the key custom from a Christian perspective. The wreath symbolizes the the journey from Adam until the awaited Second Coming - evergreens representing the eternal nature of  God.  The wreath holds four equally spaced candles. The three purple ones are lit on the penitential Sundays. The pink candle is for Gaudete, the joyful third Sunday in Advent.  Another Advent custom is that members of the congregation each look after  a statuette of the baby Jesus for twenty four hours.  Carols The singing of 'carols' originated from pagan mid-winter festivals but developed into the