English idioms related to the new year

door Regina Coeli

Yes, it’s that time of year again when the days are drawing in and we are looking forward to the Christmas break. A few days, a week, two weeks perhaps, during which we can recharge our batteries before the next year’s cycle begins all over again! The hustle and bustle of Christmas has already started; families are thinking about what to give their loved ones and shopping lists as long as your arm are lying around on kitchen tables, being added to every day. The Christmas decorations have been brought down from the attic and the excitement is mounting

There is an old nursery rhyme that reminds us that it is also a time to be charitable to those less fortunate than ourselves:

Christmas is coming,
The Goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny,
God bless you!

By reciting this, children learned that they should give to those in need according to their means, even if all they could give was their blessing – If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you. (The penny and the half-penny, pronounced ha’penny (haypenny), are of course coins from pre-metric days! We hardly remember that there were twelve pennies in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound…. but that’s another story.)

These days, however, staying at home for Christmas is not the only option. The ski slopes beckon, sunny beaches entice, and package holidays are there for the taking. People want to get away from it all and for those frazzled and stressed out by the pre-Christmas rush, it’s just what the doctor ordered. A short break does wonders. A little cottage in the middle of nowhere with beautiful scenery and the possibility of some bracing walks makes a nice change and some folks say “This is exactly what I needed”. Others take the opportunity to watch the world go by on a beach in a tropical paradise while others let their hair down and have a whale of a time at a wild New Year’s Eve party on board ship in the Caribbean. They say ‘a change is as good as a rest’, so whatever we choose, it’s bound to do us good. Of course, there’s no place like home, so for all those staying at home this Christmas (hopefully not home alone), enjoy all the family get-togethers; eat, drink and be merry!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! And let’s hope it’s a white Christmas!

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