Noel: the period from December 24 to January 6.

I have to admit, I did not know this was the definition of Noel until I did some research for this word.

Noel came up the other day in a French class I am taking.  The teacher was telling us about the French ‘Santa Claus’.  In France, he is known as Pére Noël (Father Noel).

Noel has an interesting derivation.  The word comes from the Latin word for birthday, natalis.  Naturally, over time, people attached this word to the most famous birth of all, the birth of Christ.

Natalis itself come from the Latin word nasci, meaning “to be born”.  From these words English gets names like Natalie (which came to English from Latin via French) and Natasha (which came to English from Latin via Russian).  Natalis also gives us nativity (the scene of Christ’s birth), innate (existing from birth), neo-natal (new born), cognate (related by birth; of common desire) and, of course, Noel.


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