Feature image

Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Already fed up with Christmas? Tough. For the next five minutes, you’re going to sit there and learn a little more about the delightful Christmas traditions from around the world.

Here in the UK, it seems like we’ve gone completely Christmas crazy this year, or maybe that’s just me? But with just a few sleeps left until the big day, we thought what better way to spread some Christmas cheer than with a look at some of the lovely ways our friends overseas celebrate this time of year.


The rotund, bearded and overwhelmingly red Santa Claus we have today is believed by many to be the creation of a German cartoonist called Thomas Nast, who lived in America in 1862 at the time of the Civil War.

Nast combined many of his own native traditions of Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-century Greek bishop famed for his giving of unexpected gifts, with other German folk traditions including elves, to create the jolly old soul we know and love today. The name Santa Claus also became more familiar to American ears than the German Sankt Niklaus or Dutch Sinterklaas.

Thomas Nast's Santa Claus

Image courtesy of fineartamerica.com


In the Far East, the Christian children of China celebrate Christmas by decorating their trees with colourful flowers, chains and lanterns made from paper. Much like here in the UK, they also hang Muslin stockings in the hope that they’ve been good enough for Santa Claus, who they call Dun Che Lao Ren, translated as ‘Christmas Old Man’, to leave a few treats.

Chinese Christmas decorations

Image courtesy of chineseamericanfamily.com


In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast for as many as 39 days until Christmas Eve, which is on 6 January, when the first evening star appears in the sky. These traditional religious celebrations are slowly being replaced by the less austere Festival of Winter, the highlight of which is a Christmas feast shared with all the family.

Russian Christmas

Image courtesy of humideas.com

South Korea

Christmas in Korea is an altogether more romantic affair. Christmas Eve is the time when gifts are exchanged, but instead of piles of presents, it is customary for just one present to be given. Grandpa Santa is just as popular as Santa Claus in the UK, but as well as the traditional red suit, he can also be seen in a rather fetching blue. Christmas Day is considered to be a romantic day for couples, with restaurants fully booked months in advance. For non-Christian Koreans, Christmas Day is a favourite time to hit the shops.

Blue Santa

Image courtesy of adweek.com

And there you have it, one holiday and four different ways to celebrate it. All that’s left is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year from all the team here at Linguistica International!

We’ll be having a short break over the Christmas period but will be back to provide our leading range of translation, transcreation, telephone interpreting and copywriting services in the New Year.

Evolution of language

The Evolution of Language: Are Women the Main Instigators of Change?

With the festive season upon us, we thought a potentially divisive look at the dominant role women play in the evolution of language would be an excellent way to defuse any tension.

Language is constantly evolving. Confucius once illustrated the evolution of language by asking people to think about their definition of a king now, compared to what it signified 500 years ago. Perhaps an easier way to see just how much language has evolved is to compare the works of writers like Shakespeare and Chaucer with those of today.

In fact, such is the growth of the English language that many modern-day hip-hop artists have larger vocabularies than William Shakespeare. That’s simply because there are so many more words to choose from.

Who is responsible for language change?

One theory of linguistics is that marginalised groups are the driving force behind language change. In history, there are many examples of immigrant populations having a marked and lasting impact on the language spoken by those already settled in the UK.

There are numerous examples of that type of evolution in action. In the 18th century, the Huguenots were a marginalised group of outsiders who settled in London’s East End. The influence they had on the language can still be heard in the famous cockney dialect. The same can be said for the influence of black musical subcultures from the US, which have been highly influential in the way the modern English language is spoken today.

So what other marginalised groups have played a big part in the evolution of language? How about young women, and more specifically teenage girls?

The female role in language adaptation

Women and teenage girls are arguably the most important language innovators of all time. Researchers have studied thousands of letters written by women between the years 1417 and 1681 and found that women changed their way of writing much more quickly than men. These changes have hastened the spread of new language ideas and brought an end to older language trends.

What makes this finding surprising is the fact that, during this time, women did not generally have access to a formal education. So, while male language innovations tended to result from their education, it’s unclear where female language adaptations originated from.

Young women are more advanced in linguistic change

In bilingual communities, a researcher called Susan Gal found that young women were ‘more advanced in the direction of linguistic change than older people and young men’. But why? One theory is that young boys traditionally learn language from their mothers. As women have larger social networks than men, they also continue to pick up new language trends from other women. They then pass that on to their children.

As a historically subordinate group, women have had to adapt their method of speaking to the language of men. That suggests women have effectively had to translate from their natural language and articulate their thoughts and emotions in a way accepted by a male-dominated society. The theory is that this has made them more innovative with language simply so they can express themselves effectively.

Although there is no universally accepted reason why, it’s widely agreed that women are the main instigators of language change, with many pieces of research suggesting teenage girls are the most innovative of all.

How can we help?

If you’re looking for some language change of your own, here at Linguistica International, we provide a leading range of translation, transcreation and bilingual copywriting services for international brands like Orange, Manchester United and Santander.

To find out more, call us on 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.