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English Idioms Related to the Holidays

December 6, 2018
English idioms holidays

The holidays are a large part of US culture, so it’s no surprise that English has many holiday-related idioms and expressions. Have you heard these English idioms related to the holidays? (We may have “stolen” a few of these from British English . . .)

English Idioms Related to the Holidays

Bah! Humbug!

Definition: An expression to show displeasure. This was made famous by British author Charles Dickens in his 1843 book, A Christmas Carol. In this book, a character named Ebenezer Scrooge often uses this expression.

Christmas is cancelled

Definition: These days, this expression is a joking way to say that you will “cancel” the holidays and not celebrate them. It’s a joke . . . because who could EVER cancel Christmas? But actually, throughout history there have been groups and leaders who have ruled Christmas as “cancelled.”

Deck the halls

Definition: To decorate (usually a building) with Christmas decor.

Holiday cheer

Definition: The happiness (cheer) that comes from the holidays.


To be a scrooge

Definition: To be a person who does not share, who is not generous, who is stingy with money. This expression also comes from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and his character, Ebenezer Scrooge.

To light up like a Christmas tree

Definition: To be happy and smile.

To make a New Year’s resolution

Definition: To set goals for the New Year (often to start a good habit or stop a bad one).

To ring in the New Year

Definition: To celebrate the New Year.

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