Some people collect stamps, mugs, thimbles or action figures. At the Home of Translation, we collect words and expressions with different meanings, origins and interpretations. But, unlike collectors of objects, we don’t like to keep them to ourselves! Today we’re sharing four quirky Christmas-themed expressions in different languages: Spanish, English, French and Italian.
"Se armó el belén": this expression is used in Spanish to describe a chaotic or messy situation. The expression comes from the nativity scene, which is called the “belén” in Spanish, which is generally composed of different types of people and animals crammed into a small space.
"Bah humbug": this expression is used in English to express disdain or disgust with something, generally in relation to festivities or merry and joyous occasions. The expression comes from Scrooge, the main character in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
"Se mettre sur son 31": this expression is used in French to say that a person is dressed in their finest: they’ve made an effort to look as elegant as possible. We’ve included it here because, in today’s culture, it could conceivably come from New Year’s Eve, in reference to 31 December. Many people believe this is the case, but the true origin of the expression is unknown and it may be much older.
“E durato da Natale a Santo Stefano”: this expression is used in Italian to say that something has lasted just a very short time, and literally means that something “lasted from Christmas to Saint Stephen’s Day”, which is the day just after Christmas, the 26 December!
We hope you enjoyed discovering our collection of festive idioms and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!