Navidad

Today is December 25, a holiday that English speakers call Christmas, literally ‘Christ’s mass’ or ‘Christ’s festival.’  Although Jesus almost certainly wasn’t born on this date, Spanish emphasizes his birth in its name for the holiday, Navidad. That’s a shortened form of natividad, which, like its English cognate nativity, is based on Latin natus ‘born.’ Noah Webster defined nativity this way in his dictionary of 1828: ‘birth; the coming into life or the world.’ Webster  went on to note that “the feast of Christmas is observed in memory of Christ’s nativity.” From Navidad Spanish has made the adjective navideño ‘pertaining to Christmas.’ English, with its great flexibility to put a word to work as a different part of speech, uses the noun Christmas as an adjective, so regalo navideño corresponds to Christmas present.

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Return of the Native « Spanish-English Word Connections
  2. Trackback: The Return of the Native | Spanish-English Word Connections

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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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