The holiday season is here, and with it comes the traditions of this time of year: drinking eggnog, giving gifts, hanging stocking by the fireplace, ice skating, and of course decorating the tree! Another holiday tradition? Famous pop stars often produce a Christmas or holiday-themed album. Sometimes the songs are old favorites remade to fit the singer’s style; other times, the songs are brand new. Either way, these songs are great ways to learn holiday-related vocabulary! How many of the songs below do you know? And how many of the holiday-related vocabulary words are you familiar with?

Christmas Pop Songs

Mariah Carey “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

This classic pop song is guaranteed to be played at every holiday party. Listen to the song as you also read the lyrics.

Do you know the words below?


Definition: The area of the house where the fire is built.


Definition: An old word for socks! Now, “stockings” are the large “socks” that people hang on the fireplace. Traditionally, they are filled with gifts and opened on Christmas morning.

Bells ring

Definition: When decorative bells make a sound, they are “ringing.” This is a common collocation!

Kelly Clarkson, “Underneath The Tree”

This simple song repeats many of its lyrics, so it’s easy to learn (and fun)! These romantic expressions are common in holiday songs, since holidays are often associated with romance.

To hold something/someone tight

Definition: To hug someone closely.


Definition: People who sing holiday songs to neighbors.

Snow falling

Definition: This is a common collocation. When it snows, the snow is “falling.”

Ariana Grande, “Santa Tell Me”

Is Ariana Grande singing a love song to Santa? It seems so if you read the lyrics! In fact, this “Christmas” song has very few lyrics that are related to the holiday!


Definition: A plant that is placed in houses around the holidays.

Tradition says that you must kiss someone if you are standing under the mistletoe together!

NSYNC, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”

This song covers Christmas and the other holidays with the lyrics “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.”


Definition: The Christmas season (December).

Have you read our article about the difference between saying “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays?” N’SYNC uses both salutations in this song!

Christina Aguilera, “This Christmas”

Christina’s beautiful voice makes this traditional Christmas song even more enjoyable . . . and the lyrics to this song provide some excellent English collocations related to the holidays.

Hang the mistletoe

Definition: To put the mistletoe in a high place (so that people can walk under it and kiss).

Trim the tree

Definition: To decorate the Christmas tree.


Definition: The area next to the fire.

Britney Spears, “My Only Wish (This Year)”

Of course the “Princess of Pop” has a Christmas album! You can read the lyrics here.

Christmas Eve

Definition: The night before Christmas.


Definition: A cart that is pulled by horses along the snow.


Definition: The beautiful (usually red) ribbon around a package.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, “Winter Wonderland”

The song isn’t exactly one you’d think of when you think of pop music, but this combination of pop star Lady Gaga and crooner Tony Bennett is beautiful! Read the lyrics here.

Winter wonderland

Definition: A common expression for landscapes covered in snow.


Definition: A “person” built out of snow.

To build (or make) a snowman

Definition: Another collocation! When you create a snowman, you are building (or making) one.

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Last Christmas”

The lyrics to this classic song are short and easy. The lyrics also provide an easy way to practice the Simple Past tense, since the singer is talking about what happen “last Christmas.”

Wrapped it up

Definition: A phrasal verb meaning to wrap a gift. This phrasal verb is separable.

Would you like to learn some more holiday-related songs? Check out our post on Popular Christmas Carols.

Happy Holidays to our students and staff!