This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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21 December 2012

Of trees and carols and Merry Christmas

Two billion people around the world are celebrating the traditions of Christmas this month. Here at Write this week, we’ve been enjoying talking about the language and traditions of Christmas.

Did you know that the German monk Martin Luther (in the 16th century) may have been the first to bring a Christmas (fir) tree into his house after he was delighted by the sight of stars twinkling through its branches?

And did you know that Christmas carols were originally folk songs? That explains why most carols tell a story — they were the songs of the ordinary folk. People were forbidden from singing them inside church, but could sing them outside. It was Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy 1223 who brought carols into church.

The ‘merry’ in Merry Christmas first appeared in a letter in 1699, and more famously in Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843.

The Oxford English Dictionary has been celebrating the language of Christmas too — take a look

… and Merry Christmas to you from us.

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