The last month of the year probably also has the most lights and cheer as many people prepare to celebrate a holiday. Fun new traditions seem to be added every year during this season.

The Elf on the Shelf is something that has become popular in recent years. It is based on a book about Scout Elves who come from the North Pole between Thanksgiving and Christmas to check which kids are naughty or nice. This special elf wears a red jumpsuit, a red hat and white gloves. Every night the elf flies to the North Pole and reports back to Santa. He then flies back to “hide” in a new place to observe the kids during the next day. In the morning children look around to find the Elf’s new spot. You guessed it, it’s the parents that move the Elf, but children are absolutely not allowed to touch it. If they do, they must write a letter of apology to Santa. This may seem silly but over 11 million elves have been “adopted” around the world and there is also an Elf on the Shelf Balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For adults a fun event is hosting or attending an Ugly Sweater Party. In past decades people wore holiday themed sweaters that were admittedly ugly but considered festive. Now people have themed parties where the goal is simple: the uglier the sweater, the better. A bright green sweater with a huge elf on it and maybe a Santa Clause on the back would probably be a big hit. These parties have become so popular now that there are sites with tips on how to throw the best ugly sweater party and stores even sell special decorations to make it a truly great party. What was once a genuine fashion choice has now become a holiday tradition.

If ugly sweaters or the Elf on the Shelf are not for you, you might want to participate in SantaCon.  SantaCon is a meeting of Santa Clauses and is basically a pub crawl for which everyone dresses up as Santa Clause. SantaCons take place in cities across the country so don’t be surprised if you notice yourself surrounded by people dressed up as Santa on a Saturday in December.

Many cities throughout the United States light up as they host holiday markets and other special events. Presents, decorations, ornaments, lights and parties are everywhere throughout December so there’s plenty of fun to be had.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Happy New Year!

Americans “ring” in the New Year by popping champagne, singing Auld Lang Syne and kissing at midnight.  Different cities have their own events, one of the most famous being the ball drop in Times Square. The first ball was dropped in 1907. There have been 7 balls in total, the most recent one weighing six tons! New York City is not alone in lowering things from high elevations to celebrate New Year’s Eve. New Orleans drops a Fleur-de-lis over the Mississippi River, a peach is dropped in Atlanta, Georgia, a potato in Boise, Idaho and a music note is dropped in Nashville, Tennessee. The year ends with making a resolution, which is basically like a goal you set for yourself or a change you want to make in the new year. It can be big or small, one or many. What’s your resolution going to be?

A few more phrasal verbs to close out the year:

This is the season of giving. While there are many phrasal verbs with the word “give”, here are just a few:

Give out –  To distribute. As in, supermarkets may be giving out a lot of free food samples this season with the hopes you might make a purchase after you’ve tried them.

Give away – To give something you don’t need or no longer want to someone else.  For example, in the colder months many people give away old coats they don’t use to those in need.

Give back – Yes, it does mean “to return” but you will often hear it this time of year to mean contributing your time or money or acting in a charitable way. People sometimes say they want to “give back” to their community and that simply means that they appreciate their community and want to do something kind or helpful to show their gratitude.

Finally, let’s “wrap up” the year with one last expression and one more phrasal verb.

When we “wrap” gifts, we cover them with something, usually decorative paper or ribbons, so that they not only look nice but also remain a secret until they are opened. That’s why, when something remains “under wraps”, it is being kept a secret for the time being. You may have also heard the expressions, “let’s wrap up” or “that’s a wrap!”. When you hear that, you know something is coming to an end or has ended. So now that we’re wrapping up another year of meeting, learning, speaking and exchanging ideas, we’d like to thank you for a great 2018!


Written by Fleur Isabelle Stewart, English expert at Primera

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