I love finding out the tradition behind some of the things we do and say at Christmas, don’t you? So I am going to do a series of posts this week covering lots of the historical aspects of our celebrations. Why we say things, why we do things, and why we use things to decorate our houses.
Enjoy the festive season with me.
And for those of you in hot climates, I’ve added some snow to cool you off while you read.
The word has been around for centuries, with some dictionaries putting it in the late Old English period and others to the 12th century. Old forms include cristes masse and christmasse, meaning the festival (mass) of Christ. It replaced other pagan midwinter festivals when the church tried to persuade Romans to convert to Christianity.
This abbreviation annoys a lot of people but it isn’ t simply modern shorthand. X was used to represent the Greek symbol chi, which is also the first letter in Christ. This has been used since Roman times.
The word means to adorn and is from the 16th century, but the seasonal meaning of to deck with ornamental accessories dates from the 18th century. The word originates from the Latin decoratus (beautify).
It was first seen in the expression tinsell saten which means strips of shining metal used for ornament. It also describes things that are showy and worthless. It is believed to have come from the Anglo Norman with ancestors in Old French.