deck the halls

the popular christmas carol deck the halls actually makes no mention of christmas.  the u.s. version of the lyrics are not even 150 years old, but a lot of the vocabulary sounds archaic.  the first verse which contains just 24 words has at least 11 words that might require some analysis for better understanding. there are numerous recorded versions of deck the halls.  this one is from the disney animated production beauty and the beast–the enchanted christmas.

fun esl practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

the first line says…

deck the halls with boughs of holly

deck means decorate. but decorate is much more typical to use. hall in this case refers to big rooms for events, not corridors inside of a building. a bough is a tree branch, holly is a plant associated with the holiday season.

a bough of holly

a bough of holly

the second line is…

’tis the season to be jolly

’tis is a contraction of it is. jolly means happy, gay. which leads to the third line of the verse…

don we now our gay apparel

don means put on (NOT putón–it is not referring to sexuality or being effeminate ). gay in this song means happy. it is not referring to sexuality. apparel means clothes. in other words, the modern english translation of this line is let’s put on our party clothes now.

yoda christmas sweater

christmas apparel with yoda and deck the halls lyrics (merchold.com)

finally, the last line says

troll the ancient yuletide carol

troll in deck the halls does not mean post agressive, offensive or cruel material online, which is the most common application of the word nowadays. in the song it means sing loudly and enthsiastically. many christmas traditions evolved from celebrations of the winter solstice (december 21–the longest night and shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere) known as yuletide. it can also be understood as a synonym for christmas. carols are christmas songs.

trolls movie poster

the trolls in this movie do a lot of trolling (singing)

another disney movie contains this version of deck the halls sung by debby ryan.  she actually changes the lyrics from ’tis to it’s and troll to sing.

what other confusing vocabulary have u found in christmas carols? share your experience under leave a reply


 

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