Monday, December 09, 2013

5 British Christmas Words and Phrases They Don't Use in The United States


It's the most wonderful time of the year. And while Christmas is a time of celebration, it's also a time for Brits and Americans to show their differences once more. Here are five British words and phrases not used in the United States.

1. "Happy Christmas!"
While it is common in Britain to wish someone a merry Christmas, Brits are also known to substitute this phrase for happy Christmas!, which - to the majority of Americans - is inordinately odd.

2. Father Christmas
Once again, it is by no means uncommon for the British to refer to that old jolly bringer-of-gifts as Santa or Santa Claus. However, evidently wishing to underline Santa's inherent paternal qualities, the title of Father Christmas is in widespread use in Britain.

3. Chrimbo
Let it be said that the British are big fans of abbreviating words. Moreover, they have a propensity toward adding an O-sound to the end of said abbreviations; Jonathan becomes Johnno; right you are becomes righto etc. The word Christmas is no exception; some Brits will informally call it Chrimbo.

4. Boxing Day
In Britain (and several Commonwealth countries), Boxing Day is the day following Christmas which serves nowadays as a bank/public holiday. It is named for the boxes that servants and tradesmen would receive from their employers at Christmas. In the United States, not only is December 26 typically just another workday, but the phrase Boxing Day is either unheard of among Americans, or misunderstood.

5. Lapland
To Americans, Santa Claus lives--along with his helpers and Mrs. Claus--in the North Pole. If you insist that he resides in a place called Lapland, Americans will probably think you are delving into the world of fairy tales, possibly unaware that Lapland is a region of Finland.

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Laurence Brown is a British expat living in the United States and is Editor-in-chief of Lost in the Pond. He writes popular expat narratives for BBC America and loves nothing more than to share his posts with anglophiles and expats on social media. Follow Lost in the Pond on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

2 comments:

Mandy said...

I've got to say that I've at least heard of 3/5. Chrimbo and Lapland are both new to me, although Chrimbo isn't terribly hard to figure out. :) I do appreciate the explanation for Lapland, though. Literally never heard of it. Happy Christmas and Father Christmas have not been completely unheard of in my limited number of Christmases, and Boxing Day is one of those things that I get curious about, read up to find out what it is and why it exists, and then promptly forget about for another 3 or 4 years, then repeat the cycle. :-/ I'd be interested to hear as well, what phrases or terms you might hear associated with Christmas that seem to be only used in the US that you wouldn't hear back in Britain?

Anonymous said...

It is very rare to hear Happy holidays in th UK and sound strange to most Brits.

I would have added as number 6. Mad Friday, It seems be just a British thing as I have had to explain it a number of times..

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