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‘Tis The Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly. When the calendar turns from fall to winter, it’s the time of year we often hear people use the phrase ’tis the season when expressing holiday sentiments.

But what does it really mean? Who first said it?

In this article, we take a look at some interesting facts about the quaint phrase, how it arose from the archaic language of yesteryear, and how it has contributed to the Christmas season as we know it today.

’Tis the season origin

The word ‘tis (pronounced tiz) has fallen out of popular usage except during the Christmas holiday season. It is a contraction of “It is”, where the I drops away and is represented by the apostrophe.

The contraction ‘tis was most commonly used in Elizabethan writings during the years beginning in 1555 and peaking around 1700, according to Google Ngram (the word-tracking database of English language books).

'tis the season.

Mark Twain makes famous use of the word ‘tis in Tom Sawyer: “There ’tis again! Didn’t you hear it?”

The phrase ‘Tis the season is believed to originate from the Christmas carol Deck the Halls, first translated to English in 1862 by Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant.

The song was originally a 16th-century Welsh drinking carol called Nos Galan (meaning “New Year’s eve” in the Welsh language). Each winter, the Welsh sang it in celebration of the upcoming new year.

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It refers to the time around the holidays – specifically Christmas. This phrase is typically used to signify that it’s a good time to complete activities associated with Christmas and the holiday time period.

From a calendar perspective, essentially, any time between Halloween and Christmas is the span. Many folks recognize Christmas as lasting 12 days, with December 25 being the first of the 12. So, let’s say from November 1 through January 6.

Examples of use

1.) When Sally noticed Mary weighed down in packages from Christmas shopping, Mary said, “‘ Tis the season!”

2.) Sara offered her guests eggnog or chocolate, and to encourage affirmative replies, she loudly proclaimed, “Tis the season!”

3.) ‘Tis the season for a new peppermint coffee drink at Starbucks.

4.) ‘Tis the season of giving was the headline to the homeless charity’s email solicitation.

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Does ’Tis the season have an apostrophe?

Grammar dictates that an apostrophe be used in a contraction in place of the missing letter or letters. These types of contractions are used all the time in the English language without us really noticing them. Check out this list of common contraction examples used in everyday language.

See Funny Christmas Riddles.

‘Tis the season image

Season to be jolly.

Some examples of common contractions in the English language

1.) I’m – I am

2.) Aren’t – Are not

3.) She’ll/He’ll – She/He will

4.) You’re – You are

5.) Y’all – You all

6.) Can’t – Cannot

7.) She’s/He’s – She/He is or has

8.) Didn’t – Did not

9.) They’ll – They will

10.) Wasn’t – Was not

11.) She’d/He’d – She/He had or would

12.) You’re – You are

13.) Won’t – Will not

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'tis the season origin and quotes.

Famous examples and quotes

Here are some famous contractions from history, literature, and pop culture:

14.) ’Twas the Night Before Christmas
Poem by Clement Clarke Moore

The first few stanzas from the poem:

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

15.) ’Tis but a scratch.

From the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Spoken by the Black Knight after King Arthur chops the Knight’s arm off in a sword fight.)

16.) ’Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
George Washington

17.) The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
Mark Twain

18.) Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
Robert Browning

19.) ‘Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall.
William Shakespeare

20.) If it were done when ’tis done, then ‘twere well. It were done quickly.
From Shakespeare’s Macbeth

21.) Let us work without theorizing, tis the only way to make life endurable.

22.) Oh, ’tis love, ’tis love that makes the world go round.
Lewis Carroll

23.) Anger as soon as fed is dead; ‘Tis starving makes it fat.
Emily Dickinson

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Mistletoe Meme

mistletoe meme.

Why do we say ’Tis the season?

The phrase ‘Tis the season is an easy way to begin a sentimental greeting or poetic phrase for the holiday season. This style of language harkens back to fond memories of seasons long ago and old-fashioned yuletide traditions.

Critics will say the term is simply hackneyed and pretentious. But used in the right place and at the right time, the phrase can set the proper tone in any holiday card or Christmas greeting. Take a look at the following list of synonyms for alternate terms for ‘Tis the season.

It’s the time of open fires, mistletoe, and fruitcakes.


Here are some other ways to say ’Tis the season. You can use these synonyms in Christmas cards, holiday notes and text messages, holiday photo captions on social media, greeting cards, and plain old friendly greetings to friends and family!

1.) This is the season.

2.) It’s Christmas season.

3.) It is the season.

4.) It’s almost holiday time.

5.) it’s a time of miracles.

6.) It’s the time of Santa.

7.) This is the holiday season.

8.) ’Tis the season for wrapping presents.

9.) It’s almost Christmas day.

10.) ’Tis the season to be merry.

11.) This is the time.

12.) It’s the time of presents.

13.) ’Tis the season for Christmas.

14.) It’s the season of Santa.

15.) ’Tis the season for love.

16.) It’s almost the holiday season.

17.) Well, it’s winter vacation.

18.) it’s almost Christmas Eve.

19.) it’s the season of Christmas.

20.) This is the age.

21.) It’s Christmas.

22.) ’Tis the season for mistletoe.

23.) It’s Christmas time.

24.) ‘Tis the season to be jolly.

25.) It’s almost Christmas time.

26.) It’s a winter holiday.

27.) Now is the time.

28.) ’Tis the season for Santa Claus.

29.) It’s the Christmas holiday.

30.) It’s the season of mistletoe.

31.) It’s almost Christmas.

32.) ’Tis the season of giving.

See Christmas Card Message Ideas.

’Tis the season to be jolly

The familiar holiday declaration “tis the season to be jolly” comes from the familiar Christmas song Deck the Halls.

Song lyrics for Deck the Halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la (fa la la la la, la la la la).
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la (fa la la la la, la la la la).

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la la la, la la la la (fa la la la la, la la la la).
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

‘Tis the Season Quotes

Here are some famous quotes about Christmas and holiday traditions.

1.) At Christmas, all roads lead home.
Marjorie Holmes

2.) Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.
Winston Churchill

3.) Don’t let the past steal your present. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.
Taylor Caldwell

4.) Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

5.) It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
W.T. Ellis

6.) Good news from heaven the angels bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.
Martin Luther

7.) When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things, not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness.
Bob Hope

8.) Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
Peg Bracken

9.) Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.
Eric Sevareid

10.) Christmas is love in action.
Dale Evans

11.) Christmas is the season of joy, of holiday greetings, exchanged, of gift-giving, and of families united.
Norman Vincent Peale

12.) Christmas is for all kind-hearted people.

13.) I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.
Harlan Miller

Famous holiday quotations

14.) Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.
Charles Schulz

15.) I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.
Charles Dickens

16.) Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Calvin Coolidge

17.) Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.
Ruth Carter Stapleton

18.) Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.
Janice Maeditere

19.) Christmas is the day that holds all time together.
Alexander Smith

20.) Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

21.) Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.
David Cameron

22.) Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

23.) Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.
Bing Crosby

Occasions for using ‘Tis the Season

Here are just some ideas when you might brush this off and take it out to use:

1.) Wrapping Xmas gifts.

2.) Decorating the tree.

3.) Shoveling snow.

4.) When watching a classic Christmas movie like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street.

5.) Drinking hot cocoa by the fire after sledding.

6.) At office holiday parties.

7.) Driving around looking at Christmas lights.

8.) Attending an ugly sweater party.

9.) Baking cookies.

10.) Singing or listening to Christmas songs.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and best wishes for an amazing New Year!

By M.J. O’Halloran

M.J. is a writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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