Learning Vocabulary: Christmas in the UK
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich talk about Christmas in the UK. Rich and Jack are both preparing for the Christmas holidays, but one of them is much more traditional than the other. Learn about some of the traditions and customs in the UK at Christmas time and learn some of the more unusual words connected to a British Christmas. Your task this week is to tell us about what you know about Christmas in the UK and tell us about a celebration or custom in your country. Don't forget to have a guess at this week's football phrase and if you get it right we'll announce your name in the next podcast. Enjoy!
Learning Vocabulary: Christmas in the UK
Rich: I went to the pantomime last night. It was hilarious.
Jack: Oh no it wasn’t! ... We’re not doing that... OK. I didn’t think people still went to pantomimes.
Rich: We go every Christmas. It’s great going to the theatre and lots of fun. This year’s performance was Cinderella.
Jack: Pantomimes are nice for families, and kids always think they are so funny. I always remember that there was a lot of audience participation.
Rich: Yes, when the evil Stepmother appears on stage behind Cinderella, everybody shouts ‘she’s behind you!’
Jack: Are you looking forward to Christmas then?
Rich: Yes, very much so. We’ve already got our stockings at the end of our beds.
Jack: Oh, you do that. We don’t do that. We put our presents under the tree. Well, they magically appear under the tree on Christmas
Rich: I need to go and buy the turkey next week. I’m getting him from a local farm. He’s called Greg.
Jack: The farmer?
Rich: No, the turkey. Well, that’s what I’m calling him.
Jack: Really? You’ve given him a name?
Rich: Yeah, I’ve been watching him get bigger and bigger over the last few weeks. Greg is going to make a great Christmas.
Jack: Nice. I think I might give the turkey a miss this year.
Welcome - Christmas
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you could leave your answers in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you. What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about Christmas in the UK, and help you with some unusual Christmas vocabulary that will help you talk about the Christmas traditions and customs we have here.
Jack: But, before all that, we need to give you this week's football phrase.
Rich: We’ve moved our football phrase to the beginning of the podcast. I hope you didn’t find it too difficult to find it. Remember that you have to guess the word or phrase connected to football and write it in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Jack: Before I give you this week’s phrase let’s look at the answer from last week. The phrase was kick it out. Remember, we said that it had three different meanings connected to football. You can kick the ball out of play for a throw-in or if a player is injured, you can kick a team out of a competition if they do something wrong, and finally, kick it out is the name of an organisation in the UK that works to stop racism in football.
Rich: Many of you got the right answer last week so a big well done to Elghoul in Algeria, Lakerwang in China, Rafael Robson and Wagner Villa in Brazil, Acicala in Spain, Milos in Serbia, Thaitn in Vietnam and Liubomyr in Ukraine. All of you got the right answer.
Jack: This week’s football phrase is not a phrase but a word and is one of the Christmas words we explain to you in this week’s podcast. This word is ******* and it’s used to describe a goal that is very good and is often used to describe a very powerful shot. Other similar words are screamer or belter. You might hear a commentator say: That’s an absolute belter or that’s an absolute screamer or that’s an absolute *******!
Rich: If you’re not sure of the word, listen to the rest of the podcast and decide which Christmas word can be used here. We will announce your name in our next podcast if you get the correct answer!
Jack: In the next section, you are going to hear five short conversations where you’ll hear me and Rich talking about our plans for Christmas.
Rich: One of us is more traditional. When we say more traditional we are talking about all the customs and things people do at Christmas time, the things that many people have been doing for a long time.
Jack: After the roleplay, we are going to look at some vocabulary connected to Christmas you will hear in these conversations.
Rich: While you are listening we want you to answer one question: Who is more traditional? Jack or me?
Jack: Conversation one.
Rich: So, you said earlier that you don’t go to the pantomime at Christmas time.
Jack: No, it’s not really my thing. All that screaming and shouting. It’s far too noisy. Noisier than a football match sometimes!
Rich: Do you do anything before Christmas?
Jack: I might go into town and look at the Christmas lights and the big Christmas tree. It’s nice when all the streets are lit up with lights and decorations.
Rich: I like that, it makes everything really Christmassy. I need to buy a tree soon.
Jack: We’ve already got ours. We decorated it last weekend. We put lights on it, wrapped red and gold tinsel around it and put loads of coloured baubles on it.
Rich: You’ve got it already! We don’t get ours until Christmas Eve. I think that’s more traditional.
Jack: That’s too late for me. I have to do all my last minute shopping on Christmas Eve.
Jack: Conversation two.
Rich: What about presents? You said you put them under the tree in your house?
Jack: Actually, we don’t put them under the tree until Christmas Eve, after the children have gone to bed. Then, when they wake up in the morning they see the presents and know that Santa has been.
Rich: Santa? Don’t you mean Father Christmas?
Jack: Santa, Father Christmas, Santa Claus … yes, the fat chap that pops down the chimney in the middle of the night.
Rich: Father Christmas has a much more difficult job in our house because he needs to fill all the stockings at the end of our beds too!
Jack: Conversation three.
Rich: The best part of Christmas for me is the food and Christmas lunch.
Jack: Yeah, you’ve already said that you’re having turkey.
Rich: Turkey and all the trimmings. Loads of vegetables; some steamed, some boiled and some roasted. Roasted potatoes - they're the best. And loads of gravy on top of it all.
Jack: It does sound good, but turkey is what everybody always has. We prefer to have something different. Salmon to start with and then some Roast Beef. What about dessert?
Rich: Christmas pudding, of course. We always put a coin in it as well. The person who finds the coin in the pudding will be lucky for the rest of the year.
Jack: I’m not sure about that. They won’t be that lucky if they swallow the coin. We usually have a big chocolate cake for dessert.
Jack: Conversation four.
Rich: And do you decorate the table for Christmas lunch.
Jack: Sometimes we have Christmas crackers to pull, but the jokes are awful, the presents inside them are plastic rubbish and you look really silly if you put the paper hat on.
Rich: Don’t be so miserable! I love crackers. We usually watch the Queen’s Speech on the television and pull them when she’s finished. OK, the jokes are quite bad but we’ve got some great photos of all the family wearing silly paper hats on Christmas Day.
Jack: Conversation five.
Rich: And what about Boxing Day? The 26th of December. What do you do then?
Jack: Well, I believe the tradition is to watch football, isn’t it?
Rich: Yes, of course. Liverpool are at home to Newcastle. Christmas football. I love it.
Jack: In the last section, we used a lot of vocabulary that you often only hear at Christmas time.
Rich: A lot of it is not very common but it would be very useful if you are ever in the UK in December.
Jack: We did five short conversations. Let’s look at some of the vocabulary we used in each one.
Rich: In conversation one, we spoke about what we do before Christmas. We spoke about going to see a pantomime and decorating a Christmas tree.
Jack: A pantomime is a type of play you see at the theatre that is usually based on a traditional story or fairy tale. It includes lots of jokes, music and dancing and lots of audience participation. They are usually performed in the UK before Christmas and it’s common for the main actors to be local celebrities.
Rich: We also spoke about decorating trees. Many people who celebrate Christmas in the UK have a small pine tree in their house and decorate the tree.
Jack: We use tinsel and baubles to decorate the tree. Tinsel is shiny strips of coloured metallic material that you can wrap around the tree.
Rich: Baubles are small coloured glass balls that you put on the tree.
Jack: In conversation two, we spoke about presents and gifts, which people give each other at Christmas time.
Rich: Some people put the presents under the Christmas tree whereas others have stockings at the end of their beds.
Jack: Stockings are large woollen socks that are used at Christmas to put presents in.
Rich: An important verb connected to Christmas is to wrap. Presents need to be wrapped in paper before you give them to someone else. We use wrapping paper to do this.
Jack: We also spoke about the man who delivers the presents. In the UK, he is usually called Father Christmas and in the United States Santa or Santa Claus.
Rich: In conversation three, we spoke about food. Turkey is now the traditional Christmas meat in the UK although in the past it used to be duck or goose.
Jack: Gravy is a traditional meat sauce that we pour over our Christmas lunches that is popular in the UK and another useful phrase is ‘all the trimmings’.
Rich: All the trimmings or with all the trimmings is a phrase that we use to mean many extra things to make something more special. It’s often used to describe special meals.
Jack: Christmas pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert in the UK. It’s a type of wet sponge cake with lots of dried fruit in it.
Rich: In conversation four, we spoke about the Christmas table and crackers. Crackers are coloured cardboard tubes that make a big bang when two people pull them apart. In the centre, you will usually find a written joke, a small toy and a paper hat.
Jack: We also spoke about the Queen’s Speech. It’s a tradition in the UK that the Queen speaks to the nation at three o clock on Christmas Day every year.
Rich: Finally, in conversation five we spoke about Boxing Day which is the 26th of December.
Jack: In the past, employers would give their servants a holiday on the 26th of December and a box with money and gifts for their work throughout the year.
Rich: These days the 26th is still a holiday but is more connected to shopping as it’s usually the first day of the sales and sports as there is always a full set of football fixtures on this day.
Jack: In this podcast, we’ve spoken about some of the traditions and customs around Christmas in the UK. This week’s task is for you to comment on these traditions and also tell us about some celebrations, customs and traditions in your country.
Rich: We would like you to write about the following topics in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Jack: Topic one: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve heard in this podcast? What did you learn about Christmas in the UK? Have you ever heard of pantomime or Christmas crackers?
Rich: Topic two: What traditions, customs and celebrations do you have in your country? What traditions do you think other people would find different or unusual? Do people ever wear silly hats at the dinner table like in the UK?
Jack: Write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Don’t forget to write your answers to the task and football phrase in the comments section below.
Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
It’s nice when all the streets are lit up with lights and decorations.
You mean the fat chap that pops down the chimney in the middle of the night?
They won’t be so lucky if they swallow the coin.
Don’t be so miserable! I love crackers.
There were a few more tricky words and phrases in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
Christmas in the UK
You probably already know many words connected to Christmas. In this podcast, Jack and Rich looked at some more unusual words and phrases that people in the UK use at Christmas time. They spoke about some of the customs and traditions connected to Christmas in the UK. Before we look at some of the language we used in the podcast, here are three common greetings we use over the Christmas period:
Things people do before Christmas:
It's common in the UK for people to put up Christmas decorations and Christmas trees in their houses before Christmas. Towns and cities also do this; there is usually a big tree in the centre of a town and coloured lights across the town centre. It's also common for people to go to the theatre to see a pantomime before Christmas. A pantomime is a play based on a traditional story or fairytale with added music, dancing and jokes. Take a look at these sentences that were used in the podcast:
We go to see a pantomime every Christmas. It’s great going to the theatre and lots of fun. This year’s performance was Cinderella.
I might go into town and look at the Christmas lights and the big Christmas tree.
We’ve already got our tree. We decorated it last weekend. We put lights on it, wrapped red and gold tinsel around it and put loads of coloured baubles on it.
Presents and gifts:
Christmas is a time for families to be together but everyone loves getting presents, especially children. Traditionally, Father Christmas brings children presents. Parents either put the presents under the Christmas tree or fill stockings (big socks) with presents at the end of the child's bed. Take a look at these sentences:
We put the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, after the children have gone to bed. Then, when they wake up in the morning they see the presents and know that Santa has been.
Father Christmas has a much more difficult job in our house because he needs to fill all the stockings at the end of our beds, too!
If you want to learn more about the language of giving and receiving presents, have a listen to our Christmas podcast from last year.
In the UK, people celebrate Christmas with a big meal in the middle of the day on the 25th of December. These days, it's traditional to eat turkey at Christmas. There are lots of special foods we eat at Christmas. Do you know the foods in bold? If not, listen to the podcast again and listen for the descriptions!
I'm having turkey with all the trimmings! Loads of vegetables; some steamed, some boiled and some roasted. Roasted potatoes - they're the best. And loads of gravy on top of it all.
Christmas Pudding for dessert, of course. We always put a coin in it as well. The person who finds the coin in the pudding will be lucky for the rest of the year!
At the table:
In the UK, it's a tradition to listen to the Queen speak to the nation at 1500 on Christmas Day. She has been giving a Christmas speech since 1957! It's also traditional for families to pull crackers together and wear silly paper hats at the table!
We usually watch the Queen’s Speech on the television and pull crackers when she’s finished.
We’ve got some great photos of all the family wearing silly paper hats on Christmas Day.
Traditions, Customs & Celebrations
Christmas is celebrated differently in different countries and in many countries not celebrated at all. This week's task is to talk about these UK traditions and tell us about a custom or celebration in your country. Write all your comments in the section at the bottom of the page.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve heard in this podcast? What did you learn about Christmas in the UK? Have you ever heard of pantomime or Christmas crackers?
What traditions, customs and celebrations do you have in your country? What traditions do you think other people would find different or unusual? Do people ever wear silly hats at the dinner table as they do in the UK?
Tell us about Christmas and other customs and celebrations in your country and don't forget to make a guess at our football phrase.
Merry Christmas from Jack and Rich!