New Word #86: Christmas

Image by Uschi Leonhartsberger-Schrott from Pixabay

Christmas is a great occasion to learn new words. I know a lady who really wanted her kid to learn better English. She actually decorated her place and put labels on each item with English words on it. What a sweet mother she is.

Holiday Decoration

poinsettia: a small Mexican shrub with large showy scarlet bracts surrounding the small yellow flowers, popular as a houseplant at Christmas. This flower is everywhere during the holiday seasons and the flowers are in different colors.

Christmas tree: a real (such as a fir, spruce, or pine) or artificial evergreen tree set up and decorated with lights and ornaments as part of Christmas celebrations. Most people I know who have small children would put up a small artificial tree for the kids to experience the holiday atmosphere.

mistletoe: a leathery-leaved parasitic plant which grows on apple, oak, and other broadleaf trees and bears white glutinous berries in winter. This word shows up in songs and articles, but I’ve never developed a mental image for it–I wonder why. I think it has thick leaves and small uneatable fruits that are often red or white.

wreath or garland: I don’t know the difference between the two. I think they might be the same thing. It is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring and used for decoration or for laying on a grave.

Holiday Heartache

I googled it and was amazed to find many words about holiday anxieties. There are fear of having fun: cherophobia, fear of snow: chionophobia, fear of travel: hodophonia, fear of opening a gift: doronphonia, fear of decision making: decidophonia, fear of long lines: macrophobia, fear of being embarrassed: katagelophobia, and fear of relatives: syngenesophobia. I only selected three which are most related with Christmas. None of these words is commonly used, but I have to say it can be felt from time to time during a holiday season.

heortophobia: an irrational fear of holidays

christougenniatikophobia: the fear of Christmas.

santaphobia: the fear of Santa Claus.


pomegranate: an orange-sized fruit with a tough reddish outer skin and sweet red gelatinous flesh containing many seeds. I love pomegranate and the stores here usually have them for Christmas. And it’s huge, like two pounds each. It has such a whimsical appearance and structure that one just can’t help loving it.

pomelo: it is just a big orange like fruit. It is not sweet but it is very refreshing. They usually show up before Christmas too.

hot cider: I am quite addicted to hot apple cider with or without cinnamon. At first I was not used to it, but then I just started to like it so much. A winter will not be a good winter without the hot cider. What I do is I mix apple cider with a cup of hot tea. Then I microwave it for one minute. It is delicious.

eggnog: a drink made from a mixture of beaten eggs, cream, and flavorings, often with alcohol. I’ve never tasted this even though they are on sale at the stores during the holiday season.

Pecan Pie: The pecans remind me of pine nuts that I was used to as a child. So I really love the taste of a pecan pie. And often there’s a generous layer of pecan on top of the pie and the flavor is unbelievable.

Holiday Signs

Salty Cod: It is said the pile of salty cod in big fish markets in New Jersey is a sure sign of the holiday since the traditional Italian holiday dish of “Seven Fishes” will be on the menu. I’ve never tasted this dish, but I did like my grandma’s Asian salty fish stew very much. It’s made with salty fish, mutton, seaweed, and potato. The soup is so creamy and flavorful that my mouth is watering right now just typing the words. I’ve tried several times to reproduce it on my own, but all ending up in miserable failure.

NJ transit train: It is a part of the commuter train line between Philadelphia and New York City. Whenever it is a weekend or it’s a holiday, there will be so many pretty girls all dressed up riding the train to the city. Once in a Friday of a December many years ago, me and my friend rode the train to the city–I already forgot why we did that and what we were trying to do in the city. I guess it was in those days when the City’s parking fees were so much higher than the train tickets. Anyway, we could hardly find a seat and it was like 3PM in the afternoon, not the rush hour. When we finally managed to sit down at a corner, he poked me and asked me if I noticed all the beautiful women on the train. “I think I am going to ride this train every weekend from now on.” He said excitedly. I just laughed at him, “You can’t possibly be serious. Just to watch…” I had to stop myself half way, knowing that I was probably too negative on him. Why couldn’t he ride the train and imagine the chance of striking up a conversation with one of the beautiful girls?

Short Hills Mall: It is said the holiday is here when this mall displays the most luxurious items in the window. I only went there twice in my life–it’s 35 miles north of Edison Township–for window shopping. I didn’t feel any of the excitement that my more brand conscious companions felt. Short Hills is considered the most expensive zip code in New Jersey. I know the story of an Asian family who bought a house in that town, only to move away one year later. Their two sons were isolated in the school and nobody communicated with them. We all laughed at the family when we talked about them. “Why do they want to go where they don’t belong?” We gossiped heartlessly. Now looking back, we really should have been more sympathetic.

shoppers from New York: Since New Jersey doesn’t have sales taxes (which can run up to 6.625%) for clothes and food, many New Yorkers would travel to New Jersey for holiday shopping. The outlet malls are quite crowded. I once went to the Jersey Garden outlet mall and the sporting goods shop looked like it was a disaster area–the shoppers threw all the boxes on the floor and often you had to stamp on the litters on the floor to pass an aisle.

21 thoughts on “New Word #86: Christmas

  1. Holiday learning, treats, and chaos indeed. You’ve really packed this post with so much holiday flavor, Haoyan. Hot cider sounds so good. Just the perfect drink in the cold winter. And pomegranates are great anti-oxidants. Though the ones here aren’t so big. Hope your holidays are joyful and filled with much cheer. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. English English, is my first and (almost) only language but I love your New Word posts! My English English develops to include American English and more! Yours is a special post! πŸŒΉπŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I didn’t know them either and I am forgetting them at this moment. LOL. I did have the fear of travel from time to time. A trip to New York City will definitely give anybody the fear of travel.

      Liked by 1 person

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