What a delicious word. It has such a lovely Dickensian flavour to it. It has all the magic of Christmas, plus some tasty liturgical overtones.
This word seems to have entered the English language around the beginning of the seventeenth century. The ‘tide’ part comes from the Old English word ‘tid’, which means ‘period of time’ or ‘season’.
The season of Christmastide roughly covers the traditional twelve days of Christmas period, although different Christian Churches begin and end this period on slightly different dates.
I love this word because if its archaic quality, and all the traditional elements of Christmas it conjures up. Rich plum puddings, gingerbread, robin redbreasts perched on snowy twigs, holly, mistletoe and spruce. (Note: I’m Australian. So you can appreciate the irony of all this.) But I also love it because it sounds joyful. I associate the ‘tide’ part with all the good tidings and cheer in the carols. And, I have to admit, I also like the idea of stretching out the celebration of Christmas for as long as possible.
However you celebrate Christmas, or even if you don’t and are just enjoying the public holiday, I hope you are having a safe and happy one.