Things you didn’t know about modern-day Christmas

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All of our English lessons in December will be about Christmas traditions and their origins.  As winter descends and snowflakes begin to blanket the ground, there’s no denying that the magic of Christmas is in the air. Every year, families across the globe come together to celebrate this enchanting time with age-old traditions and heartwarming customs. In this lesson, we’ll embark on a festive journey to explore some of the most cherished Christmas traditions— from caroling through snowy streets and marveling at twinkling lights, to preparing sumptuous feasts and exchanging thoughtful gifts. We’ll delve into the rich history behind these beloved practices and learn how they’ve evolved through time while still retaining their uniquely captivating charm. So, join us as we unwrap the wonders of Christmas traditions that continue to bring joy, togetherness, and magical memories year after year


Here are 20 interesting facts about the origins of our Christmas customs:

1. The tradition of exchanging gifts goes back to ancient Roman times, during the festival of Saturnalia.
2. The modern form of Santa Claus has its origins in the Dutch figure Sinterklaas, based on Saint Nicholas.
3. Mistletoe was initially a symbol of peace and love in Celtic and Norse mythology and later became a Christmas custom to encourage romance.
4. The first recorded instances of decorating a Christmas tree came from Germany during the 16th century.


5. Carols were originally sung during various pagan celebrations with no affiliation to Christmas, before being adopted by the Christian church.
6. Christmas stockings originated from a Dutch folklore about St. Nicholas filling children’s shoes with gold coins if they placed them near a fireplace.
7. The tradition of feasting at Christmas dates back to medieval Europe, where extravagant meals were prepared as part of Yule celebrations.
8. Candy canes symbolize Jesus Christ’s purity and sacrifice, their red and white colors representing his blood and righteousness, respectively.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: (Your chance to speak)

1. What are some popular Christmas traditions in your country or culture, and how do you celebrate them with your family?
2. How does celebrating Christmas differ around the world? Can you discuss at least two contrasting traditions?
3. If you could create a new Christmas tradition, what would it be and why? How do you imagine people celebrating this tradition?

9. The nativity scene was first created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 in an Italian town called Greccio.
10. ‘Silent Night’ was composed by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr in 1818 due to a broken organ at their Austrian church.
11. 12th-century Christians believed that holly leaves represented Christ’s crown of thorns while their red berries symbolized his blood.
12. The first known use of ‘Merry Christmas’ appeared in a letter from English nobleman John Frankland to King James I’s chaplain in 1699.


13. In Victorian times, a popular game at Christmas parties was Snap-dragon, where participants tried to snatch raisins from flaming punch bowls without getting burned.
14. Boxing Day has its origins in the Middle Ages when wealthy people gave boxes of food to their servants to thank them for their work during Christmas festivities.
15. The tradition of hanging Christmas cards began in the UK during the 19th century after the introduction of the first Christmas card by Sir Henry Cole.
16. Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, is credited with popularizing the Christmas tree in England after decorating one at Windsor Castle in 1841.



1. In the following sentence, identify and correct the misplaced modifier related to a Christmas tradition: “After decorating the tree, the beautifully wrapped gifts were placed underneath by Sarah.”

2. Analyze the parallel structure of this sentence about popular Christmas activities and rewrite it to maintain coherence: “During the festive season, people enjoy ice skating, attending holiday parties, to make gingerbread houses, and singing Christmas carols.”

3. Convert this complex sentence about a Christmas dinner into a compound sentence using appropriate coordinating conjunctions: “When all family members arrived at Grandma’s house, they enjoyed a delicious feast which included turkey, mashed potatoes, and gingerbread cookies.”

17. The first-ever recorded artificial snow was made from a mixture of chalk, ground rice, and cat litter for a Christmas party in 1929.
18. In ancient Scandinavia, the Yule log was burned for 12 days to celebrate the winter solstice and encourage a prosperous year ahead.
19. Roast turkey became a popular Christmas dish after gaining popularity during Queen Victoria’s reign as an alternative to roast swan or peacock.
20. The tradition of wearing paper crowns during Christmas dinner originated from Roman Saturnalia celebrations, where everyone wore laurel wreaths to symbolize camaraderie and equality.


A misplaced modifier is a common grammatical error in English language, where a descriptive word, phrase, or clause is incorrectly placed in a sentence, making it unclear which element it’s modifying. This often results in confusing or unintentionally funny statements. To correct a misplaced modifier, simply rearrange the sentence to place the modifier close to the word or phrase it should be describing.

A parallel structure in English grammar refers to the use of similar or identical grammatical forms or patterns within a sentence or among sentences. This ensures consistency and balance, making it easier for readers to understand and process the information. Parallel structure can be achieved by maintaining the same verb tense, word form, or sentence construction when presenting items in a list, comparing or contrasting ideas, or using coordinating conjunctions. For example: “She enjoys reading, writing, and painting,” demonstrates parallel structure by using gerunds (verb+ing) for each listed activity.

A complex sentence is a sentence that contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. The independent clause can stand alone as a complete thought, while the dependent clause relies on the independent clause to make sense. For example: “I went to the store because I needed groceries.”

A compound sentence is a sentence that contains two or more independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction. Each independent clause can stand on its own as a complete thought. For example: “I went to the store, and I bought some groceries.”

A coordinating conjunction is a word that links two independent clauses in a compound sentence. In English grammar, there are seven coordinating conjunctions, often remembered by the acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.


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