Hot July Idioms!

The month of July is just around the corner and things are only going to get hotter here in Atlanta! Here are a couple English idioms (expressions) which relate to the July heat (and also refer to the winter cold, which is the opposite).

“A cold day in July”

hotcold

A cold day in July is almost impossible in the United States, especially if you live in the southern states. This idiom is used when we think something is pretty much impossible.

“It’ll be a cold day in July before my boss gives me the raise I want!”

 

Christmas in July”

As you may know, many Americans celebrate Christmas and buy many gifts for their friends and family. But sometimes you might get many gifts at another time, for example your birthday. If you get many gifts or money at another time of the year, you might say “it was like Christmas in July.” Yes, you can say this even when it isn’t exactly July!

How Americans Wish Each Other Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.)

Over 70% of the American population identifies itself as Christian. Therefore, there is a strong cultural tradition in the U.S. of Christians (and even some non-Christians) saying “Merry Christmas” to others during and around Christmas time (December 25). This may extend even into the New Year holiday, and some people may say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Image result for happy holidays

However, over the years the United States has become more diverse, with citizens and residents practicing all the world’s religions. Also, there have been non-Christian communities in the US for a long time, such as Jews from Europe, and Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians from China.

Image result for christmas merry santa    Image result for hanukkah

Usually some time in December, there is a Jewish holiday called “Hanukkah” which arguably started over 2,100 years ago. There is also an increasingly popular American holiday celebrated by some African-Americans called “Kwanzaa” from December 26 – January 1. It celebrates different moral principles from African cultures and religions.

Image result for kwanzaa

Because of the great diversity of religions and cultures we can find in America today, as well as the various holidays different Americans celebrate, some Americans today choose not to say “Merry Christmas.” In order to include everyone, they might just say, “Happy Holidays!” It is good to be respectful of people’s unique backgrounds but it is probably also true that when people say “Merry Christmas,” they are really just trying to be friendly and because they are excited about the holiday and special time of year.

Whatever you celebrate (or maybe you celebrate none of these holidays!), we hope you have a great winter and hope you’ll come learn more about American culture at our school!

When do you get a second wind? More idioms from sports

Last week we discussed how many English idioms come from sports (. This week’s idiom — “getting a second wind” — is originally from sailing but many people today use it in connection to running.

A “second wind” was an extra wind for a sailboat that helped to win a sailing race. However, today, most people associate this idiom with RUNNING. This is because, after getting tired in the middle of a race, many racers see (or think about) the finish line and it BOOSTS their MOTIVATION and energy. Even though they have been running for a long distance and are tired, they suddenly find the energy to run as fast as they can to the finish line.

But we can also use this idiom today for any activity or situation in which you became tired but then found the strength to push on and finish up STRONG.

Example: I worked a huge 55-hour work week and by Friday night when I got home I was EXHAUSTED. But after eating a good dinner, I got a second wind and was able to clean up my entire house.”

What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?

What is a “Snow Day?” What is “snowed in?”

snow angelToday we’ll present to you two idiomatic phrases. They both deal with snow. In southern United States (which don’t get so cold like northern states, e.g., New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts,etc.) there is still often some snow in the winter. Because the southern states don’t get a lot of snow, however, they might not spend the money on equipment to clear snow from the roads. In short, when there’s snow in the south – especially Georgia where CCB School is located – snow usually means A SNOW DAY!! And that means, NO SCHOOL!!

So far, there had not been a snow day in the Atlanta area this year, but many schools were closed today (actually, that was because of the holiday President’s Day) and more may be closed tomorrow. Many young people are anxiously watching to see if they can have some extra time away from school to play in the snow!

To be “snowed in” means that there is so much snow that people can’t leave their house. Or at the least, they cannot make it to work or really go anywhere. It is still an opportunity to play outside, throw snowballs at each other, build a snowman, and more.

Maybe even some of our students want a snow day! (No way! They are very serious about becoming experts in English and always love to come to school!) But if you are curious whether or not we have class, we always follow Gwinnett County’s decision. This information can always be found here:  http://www.wsbtv.com/school-closings/search/

Whatever happens, have a great day!

“‘TIS THE SEASON”: CHRISTMAS IDIOMS JUST IN TIME!

The following list contains numerous English idioms and expressions relating to Christmas and holiday traditions. Some of them are specifically used during the holidays and some can be used any time. More info below!

Bah! Humbug!
= first used by Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, this is sometimes said by people who aren’t fans of Christmas when confronted with holiday well-wishers.

I’m tired of all these Christmas carolers singing at my door! Bah humbug I say!!

Christmas comes but once a year = used as an excuse for over indulgence, whether on food or on gifts, on the basis that it doesn’t happen often. 

Go ahead and have another plate of food! Christmas comes but once a year.

Deck the halls
 = decking (or decorating) one’s hall with branches from a holly tree is an old tradition; the popular carol of the same name began as a Welsh tune dating back to the 16th century

Christmas is in five days and we haven’t put up any decorations yet! It’s time to deck the halls!

It’s the thought that counts = it’s the kindness behind an act that matters, however imperfect or insignificant it may be.(Expression can be used any time of year)

Lit up like a Christmas tree = nothing to do with decorations but used to describe an intense military attack on enemy positions (Expression not actually used for Christmas)

The more the merrier = the more people or things there are, the better a given situation will be (Expression used any time of year)

There’s no time like the present = a reminder that there are things in our lives we can do and accomplish RIGHT NOW with a little hard work (Expression used any time of year)

‘Tis the season to be jolly 
= taken from a Christmas carol, this phrase serves as a reminder to put on a happy face over the festive period (‘Tis is an old method of contracting it and is, but is rarely used these days) (Expression used near and around Christmas time)

Trim the tree
 = nothing to do with cutting, this is an old reference to decorating a pine tree with ornaments, lights and other glittery bits (Expression used during Christmas time)

White Christmas = when it snows at Christmas time (something which happens sometimes in Atlanta but not often)

WINTER-TIME IDIOMS & EXPRESSIONS

It’s that time of year again here in Atlanta where the weather turns very cold and we even get some snow (usually in January or February). There are a lot of idioms in English related to the snow and winter. Below are just a few you might enjoy. If you want to learn even more, come study at our accredited ESL school!

snowball’s chance in hell – to be very unlikely to succeed at something

ex: The little boat had a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the storm.

dead of winter – the coldest, darkest part of winter

ex: It feels like the dead of winter out there.

to be on thin ice – to be in a risky situation

ex: If you keep asking him about his ex-girlfriend, you’ll be on thin ice. He’ll probably start yelling at you.

pure as the driven snow – to be innocent and chaste (frequently used ironically)

ex: Madonna isn’t exactly pure as the driven snow, but the book she wrote is excellent!

to break the ice – to create a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere

ex: Alexandra is great at breaking the ice, she always knows what to say to people.

to run hot and cold – to be unable to make up one’s mind

ex: David’s feelings about Lisa run hot and cold; one minute he loves her, and the next, he’s bored of her.