I came across an interesting piece on the background of various names given to Christmas festival.
The oldest of the three is Yule, from Old English geól, which meant Christmas Day or Christmastime, and corresponds to an Old Norse word jól, which was a pagan winter feast lasting twelve days. The earliest citation of this word in the OED is from a work by the 8th century English monk Bede. It survives today in the somewhat archaic word Yuletide as well as in the yule log, originally a large log burned at Christmas but now more usually referring to a rolled up chocolate cake that resembles such a log.
Noel or Noël comes ultimately from the Latin natalis via Anglo-Norman and Middle French. Originally an exclamation of joy at the birth of Christ, in the middle ages it was also used to refer to the Christmas period. Like carol (and holly) it has found another life as a first name, especially for those born during the Christmas period, but otherwise is now found only in Christmas carols and as a greeting on Christmas cards:
Christmas comes from Old English and means “the mass of Christ”. The earliest citations come from the early 12th century and it has completely superseded its rivals as the standard term for the festival celebrated on 25th December, as well as the period immediately before and after it.
In our childhood, Christmas or winter break that we had from the last week of December till the beginning of January used to be colloquially called “ bade din ki chhuttiyan” , as Christmas falls after winter solstice after which days start growing longer and nights shorter. I have also heard people referring to Christmas as Ex -Mas for it’s also written as X-MAS. The “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Christós, which became Christ in English. X in a way also represents holy cross!
Call it Yuletide, Noel, Christmas, Bada din or X- MAS, the spirit of festivity and its fervour remains the same!