Tag Archives: Christmas Day

Happy Christmas from Linguamax


“In the middle of falling snow and sparkling crystal rain
when winds blow cold against the frosted window pane
there’s a pleasant warmth felt everywhere in the merry Christmas glow…” 

[Marjorie Foster Fleming]

As we enter the month of December each year, we often wonder where the year has gone, how quickly it has passed and what we did or did not accomplish. The end of each year finds us thinking about holidays, gifts, parties and friends, as well as the closing of another business year. The end of the year is a time to look back on the previous year and look forward to the next. 2016 has been challenging for everybody and I’m certain 2017 will bring its own mix of successes and challenges but our direction is clear. Our job is to continue to focus on what we can control: providing our clients with the best service possible.

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our linguists – thank you for your support throughout the year. Please enjoy some well deserved rest with family and friends during this holiday season! We look forward to working with you in 2017.

To all our clients and linguists we wish a new year of happiness and hope for a world at peace. Have a very Happy Holiday Season and wishing you every happiness in the coming year.

Office opening times over the festive period

Please note that our office will be closed from 2 pm on Friday 23rd December until 9:00 am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

P.S. The money we have saved by emailing our Christmas message to you instead of printing and sending a Christmas card, will be donated to the Cinnamon Trust and Hillside Animal Sanctuary, our favourite charities.

Photo © Grace Azadvar-Smith. All rights reserved.

Happy Christmas from Linguamax

December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas – the happiest time of the year, filled with festivities and gift giving. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the celebration of the birth of Christ, the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, traditional Christmas dinners with family and friends, snow on the ground or stockings hanging in the living room?

Whatever Christmas means to you personally, it is always a very special time spent with our loved ones and so we wish you a holiday season filled with love, peace and joy. May these gifts be yours this Christmas!


Thank you all for your business over the past year and many thanks to our linguists for your support, hard work and commitment – we look forward to working with you in 2016.

Grace, Erika, Monika & Justyna

Office opening times over the festive period

Please note that our office will be closed from Thursday 24th December until 9:00am on Monday 4th January 2016.

P.S. The money we have saved by emailing our Christmas message to you instead of printing and sending a Christmas card, will be donated in full to the Cinnamon Trust, our favourite charity.

Photo © Grace Azadvar-Smith. All rights reserved.

A Global Christmas (III)

Christmas past and Christmas future

Image005All too soon, Christmas is over. Or is it? It seems like most countries of the world like to keep the celebrations going for as long as they can.

Boxing Day – 26 December – is unique to Great Britain. Traditionally, it is on this day that churches in England open their alms boxes and distribute the contents to the poor. Servants used to be allowed a rare day off and it was customary to break open their tips boxes on this day. Other countries may not have Boxing Day, perhaps, but most tend to keep this “second day of Christmas” special too. In Sweden the Second day of Christmas is traditionally a day of carol singing. In Holland this Second Christmas Day often finds families going out to a restaurant to eat, and many concerts, recitals, and other musical performances make this Christmas Day special.

The feast of the Holy Innocents is 28 December. Traditionally this day is celebrated with the lighting of bonfires in the towns and villages of Spain. One young boy takes the role of the mayor and demands that the people perform all sorts of community tasks. Failure to comply results in fines to pay for the celebrations!

For the Scots, New Year’s Eve, called Hogmanay, is most definitely the primary focus of the festive season, with parties and celebrations across the country. The first person to set foot in the house in the new year is meant to dictate the fortunes of the family. Unusually, strangers are thought to bring good luck. For the Japanese, New Year’s Day remains the most important day in their calendar. The house is cleaned from top to bottom ready for the start of the new year, and evil spirits are banished with the throwing of dried beans into every corner of the house!

The Mari Lwyd or, in Welsh, Y Fari Lwyd, is a New Year custom once prevalent in the valleys of South Wales. Translated, the name means ‘the Grey (or Holy) Mary’ although this is likely a more recent rendering of ‘the Grey Mare’, as the tradition surrounding the Mari Lwyd involves the parading of a horse’s skull. To create the Mari Lwyd, a skull is fixed to a wooden pole with white sheets attached to its base so that the person holding it is concealed beneath. Green bottle-bottoms provide the eyes and ribbons festoon the skull. The lower jaw is often sprung so that it can snap shut at anyone foolish enough to get too close. The Mari Lwyd is then escorted by a Sergeant and Punch and Judy figures, as well as a choir of singers, as the group goes door-to-door through the community. They challenge the occupants of houses or, more recently, public houses, to a singing contest where each tries to outdo the other in clever putdowns, all the while maintaining the strict rhythm of the verse.

Many people celebrate Epiphany on 6 January (12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar), and others celebrate on the first Sunday of the New Year. This day marks not only the end of Christmas but also the start of the Carnival season, which climaxes with Mardi Gras. In some European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, children dress as the three kings and visit houses. In their roles as the kings, or wise men, they sing about Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the “king of kings”. They are rewarded with praise and cookies.

Dia de los Reyes Magos is the Latin American celebration of Epiphany. In many Latin American countries, it is the three wise men and not Santa Claus who bring gifts for children. Children write letters to the wise men telling them how good they were and what gifts they want. In France Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), sometimes called the Fête des Rois, is celebrated with parties for children and adults. The gallete des rois, or “cake of kings”, is often the highlight of these celebrations. In Québec, the end of Christmas is signified by La fête du Roi (on 6 January). To celebrate, you make a cake with a bean inside. Whoever gets the bean in their slice of cake is the King (or Queen) for the day!

Children in Spain receive gifts on the feast of Epiphany. Traditionally, they fill their shoes with straw, carrots or barley for the three kings’ horses to eat and place them on balconies or by the front door on Epiphany Eve. The next day they hope that Balthazar, who rides a donkey, has left cookies, sweets or gifts in their place. Of course, that’s if they have been good. If they’ve been bad, then all they receive is coal – this tradition is still preserved today, but luckily there a many “coal” sweets on the market now! The “three kings” still make an entry in many cities in Spain on Epiphany Eve, accompanied by military bands and drummers in medieval dress.

If you can’t get enough of Christmas, and can’t wait for next Christmas to come, simply head for Ethiopia. The Ethiopians follow the ancient Julian calendar, which means they celebrate Christmas on 7 January. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth is called Ganna. It is a day when families attend church. Everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma – a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly coloured stripes across the ends. Twelve days after Ganna, on 19 January, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ.

The Chinese lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins in late January or early February. Celebrations last for three days and although not part of Christmas, the New Year is the most important celebration of the year for Chinese people. People travel long distances to be with their families. They decorate their homes with brightly coloured banners carrying messages of good wishes for the coming year. Many people exchange gifts at New Year. For the first celebration, on New Year’s Day, people offer rice, vegetables, tea, and wine to heaven and earth. They burn incense and candles to pay tribute to their ancestors and to all living members of the family.

Chinese families are awed by spectacular New Year’s fireworks displays and the exciting lion dance. Several performers, dancing inside an enormous costume, make the lion walk, slither, glide, leap, and crouch along the street as it leads a colourful procession. The greatest spectacle takes place at the Feast of the Lanterns, when everyone lights at least one lantern for the occasion. Other special events of the New Year include the Festival of the Dragons and the Fisherman’s Festival. What a fantastic way to round off such wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations?

However you choose to celebrate the festive season, we hope that your Christmas sparkles with fun, laughter, and good cheer and we wish every one of you a healthy, happy and most delightful New Year.

Grace, Jacqui and Sarah

Please note that our office will be closed from Monday 24 December until 9:00am on Wednesday 2 January 2013.


Photo courtesy of Keith Osborn Photography http://keithosborn.co.uk/

A global Christmas (II)

The night before Christmas

FakeXmas13At last Christmas is here. It’s so close you can almost touch it. We reach the climax of the festive season with the coming of Christmas Eve and the dawning of Christmas Day. But what special treats do they bring across the world?

In Canada as in Germany, a lavish Christmas dinner takes place on Christmas Eve. But whereas in Canada Santa brings his gifts down the chimney in the night for children to open gleefully the following day, in Germany, they open their gifts on Christmas Eve too. For Venezuelans, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, Noche Buena, as it is called in Spanish. Families get together to enjoy the traditional holiday meal: hallacas, pan de jamón, dulce de lechoza. The pan de jamón is a long bread filled with cooked ham and raisins. The dulce de lechoza is a dessert made of green papaya and brown sugar, slowly cooked for hours and served cold. In France and in Québec, Christmas dinner is called Réveillon (waking up) and is often eaten when everyone returns from midnight mass on Christmas Eve – maybe as late (or as early) as two o’clock on Christmas Day morning. It’s usually duck followed by rice pudding with almonds in Québec, but the French prefer goose in Alsace, turkey with chestnuts in Burgundy, or oysters and pâté de foie gras in Paris. Vive la différence!

There is a lovely tradition in Poland called Wigilia. The Christmas feast cannot begin until the first star appears in the night sky. So, Christmas is often known as Gwiazdka (Little Star). The celebrations begin with the sharing of a rice wafer that has been blessed by the parish priest. The main meal really is a feast worth waiting for. Eaten on Christmas Eve, it consists of 12 courses representing the 12 apostles. An extra place is always set at the table in case a stranger or the Holy Spirit drops in. There is a similar tradition in Portugal where they have an additional feast, called consoada, in the early hours of Christmas Day. The extra places they set at the table are for the souls of the dead (alminhas a penar). In the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church, Christians fast until Christmas Eve when they have a meat-free meal. A Christmas porridge, called kutya, is the primary meal. The ingredients of wheat berries and grains symbolise hope and immortality, honey and poppy seeds bring happiness and success.

The Christmas Eve supper in Lithuania is similar to the celebrations in Poland. The table is spread with a linen tablecloth under which a little hay or straw has been placed. In earlier times the hay or straw was put on the floor under the table for the dead to rest on after their meal. The Christian interpretation is that the hay is there to remind us that Christ was born in a manger. The members of the household sit down at the table in order of seniority. Up until quite recent times it was not unusual to set a place for an absent or recently deceased person and some Lithuanians still do so. The meal begins with a prayer and the breaking of the special Christmas Eve wafers, called variously kalėdaičiai (from the word Kalėdos “Christmas”), plotkelės (wafers) or Dievo pyragaičiai (God’s biscuits/wafers), begun by the head of the household. As the wafer is broken, good wishes for the coming year are exchanged. These thin wafers, made from unleavened wheat dough are also a symbol of the body of Christ. These wafers are made by the Catholic Church and are available at any parish rectory in good time for Christmas Eve. The wafers usually have either the cross or the contraction IHS (Iesus Hominem Salvator – Jesus, Saviour of Humankind) on them. In earlier times, before the widespread availability of these wafers, bread would have been broken.

The traditional Christmas Eve supper in Lithuania consists of 12 dishes, one for each month of the year. The more recent interpretation – under the influence of Christianity – is that the 12 dishes remind us of the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. These are some of the dishes (which differ from region to region and how well off people are): pickled or marinated herring with mushrooms; fried herrings in tomato sauce; baked stuffed fish (pike or carp); beet soup with ‘little ears’ (a kind of dumpling); sauerkraut salad; sautéed sauerkraut; cranberry pudding; oatmeal pudding; whole wheat with honey (i.e. kūčios or kūčia); Christmas Eve biscuits with poppy seed milk (made by grinding the poppy seed in a mortar; a job given to the men or children of the household); apples; and dried fruit compote. Homemade beer or gira, a fermented non-alcoholic drink, would be served with the meal.

In Germany, Christmas Day traditionally involves roast goose, Christstollen (long loaves of bread made with nuts, raisins, citron and dried fruit), Lebkuchen (spicy biscuits), marzipan, and Dresden Stollen (fruit loaf). In Greece, after 40 days of fasting, everyone is more than ready to eat a huge feast. And a big hog roast fits the bill wonderfully. Christopsomo loaves (Christ bread) are popular, and often engraved with a symbol to denote the family’s profession. Christians in Iran fast from meat on 1 December, this custom is known as the Little Fast (the Big Fast being for lent). So, it is not surprising to learn that after church on Christmas Day, Christmas Dinner is known as the Little Feast. Harasa (chicken stew) is one traditional dish) eaten for the Little Feast in Iran. Christmas was introduced to Japan by the Christian missionaries, but now it has been adopted (and commercialised) wholeheartedly – even down to the eating of turkey on Christmas Day.

The tradition of a yule log, now a frequent feature of Christmas globally, comes from Scandinavia. For most of us, the yule log means food – usually a very tasty cake. But originally the yule log was exactly that – a log, or more often than not, a whole tree. After much ceremony, the yule tree was placed in the hearth and it slowly burnt in the fire. It would keep the family warm for the whole of Yuletide. Yuletide, means “the turning of the sun” or the winter solstice.

Check out the next instalment of our Christmas blog to find out what customs are celebrated after Christmas Day and how the New Year is welcomed in.

However you choose to celebrate the festive season, we hope that your Christmas sparkles with fun, laughter, and good cheer and we wish every one of you a healthy, happy and most delightful New Year.

Grace, Jacqui and Sarah

Please note that our office will be closed from Monday 24 December until 9:00am on Wednesday 2 January 2013.

Photo courtesy of Keith Osborn Photography http://keithosborn.co.uk/