Christmas words often appear in our crosswords even outside of the season. The word Christmas can sometimes be clued as ‘Noël’, ‘Yuletide’, or ‘Present-giving occasion’.
Noël is a French word from the Latin nātālis meaning ‘a birth’. ‘Natale domini’ is another Latin phrase related to nātālis, meaning ‘birth of the Lord’. The given name Natalie derives from natale domini and is a popular name for babies born on or near Christmas.
‘Yuletide’ is an old-fashioned term used to describe the period of several days around and including Christmas Day. It’s thought to be a late Middle English term and isn’t as popular anymore. ‘Yule’ is said to come from the Old English geōla, originally a name of a pagan feast lasting 12 days; related to Old Norse jōl, Swedish jul, Gothic jiuleis. It’s perhaps more recognisable as the yule log – both the delicious dessert and the literal log of wood used to ceremonially begin the Christmas seas.
‘Present-giving occasion’ is definitely a favourite way of thinking and talking about Christmas. In the Christian tradition, giving gifts on Christmas is symbolic of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men, but it also has much more ancient roots. In ancient Rome, gift giving occurred during the winter solstice in December, which was celebrated during the Saturnalia holiday. There’s also the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, where Christmas Day is considered the first day of Christmas and it finishes up on January 5 – or, Twelfth Night.
From all of us at Lovatts, we hope your gift-giving season is full of joy (and maybe one or two magazine subscriptions). Merry Christmas!