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Studying American Sign Language: ASL for Christmas

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 11/26/2012

Do you want to talk about Christmas in American Sign Language? This article describes some essential signs for discussing the holiday season including religious and secular vocabulary. Also included is a printable download of the Christmas signs described in the article.

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    Signing for Christmas

    Angel – Form the hands with the fingers held together and straight. Tap the fingertips to the shoulders with the palms facing down. Lift and twist the hands around with the palms facing forward. The sign for angel resembles angel wings.

    Berry – Hold the left fist at chest level with palm facing the body and the left pinky extended from the fist and pointing toward the left. Form the letter O of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Wrap the tips of right fingers around the tip of the left pinky and twist.

    Bethlehem – Sign the letter B of the sign language alphabet in front of the chin. Form the letter B with both hands. Touch the fingertips of the hands together to form an upside down V on the left side of the body. Then touch the fingertips of the hands together to form an upside down V in the center of the body.

    Candle – Form the number 1 in sign language with the left hand and the number 5 with the right hand. Hold the right hand in front of the left shoulder with the palm facing left. Touch the tip of the left index finger to the bottom of the right palm. Wiggle the right fingers.

    Candy – Form the number 1 in sign language with the right hand. Place the right index finger at the corner of the lips on the right side of the mouth. Swipe the right index finger down three times.

    Card - Begin by forming both hands with the middle, ring, and pinky fingers folded onto the palms. Spread the thumb and index fingers to form the letter L on both hands. Hold the hands in front of the chest with the tips of the index fingers and the tips of the thumbs touching. Pull the hands apart and stop in front of the shoulders. Lower the index fingers to the thumbs.

    Carol – Hold the left hand at waist level with the left palm facing up. Hold the right hand above the left fingertips with the right palm facing down. Swipe the right hand back and forth over the left arm twice.

    Christmas – Hold the left arm in front of the body across the chest with the palm facing down. Rest the elbow of the right arm on top of the back of the left hand. Form the right hand into the shape of the letter C. Place the right hand on the left elbow. Lift the right arm from the elbow in an arching motion in front of the body.

    Cranberry – Fingerspell the word C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-Y with the sign language alphabet.

    Decorate/decoration - Form a flattened letter O of the sign language alphabet with both hands. Touch the fingertips together. Hold the hands in front of the body on the left side at forehead level. Twist the fingertips together twice. Move the hands to the right side of the forehead. Twist the fingertips together twice again.

    Dinner – Form the letter D of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. With the index finger pointing up, tap the tips of the other fingers on the mouth twice.

    Eggnog – Fingerspell the word E-G-G-N-O-G with the sign language alphabet.

    Gift/present – Form the letter X of the sign language alphabet with both hands. Hold both hands in front of the body at waist level. Move both hands forward twice.

    Holiday – Begin by forming both hands with the fingers and thumbs held apart and slightly curved. Hold the hands in front of the chest with the palms facing down. Tap the thumbs to the chest twice.

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    Holly - Begin by forming both hands with the middle, ring, and pinky fingers folded onto the palms. Spread the thumb and index fingers to form the letter L on both hands. Hold the hands in front of the chest with the tips of the index fingers and the tips of the thumbs touching. Touch the index fingertips to the thumbs twice while pulling the hands apart. The sign for holly resembles the shape of a holly leaf.

    Ivy – Fingerspell the word I-V-Y with the sign language alphabet.

    Jesus – Hold both hands in front of the chest with the right palm facing left and the left palm facing right. Tap the middle finger of the right hand to the left palm. Then tap the middle finger of the left hand to the right palm.

    Light – Form the number 1 in sign language with the right hand. Make a circle with the right index finger next to the right temple. Then pop all five fingers open.

    Mistletoe – Form a squished letter X of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Hold the right hand above the head. Form the number 2 in sign language with the left hand. Touch the tips of the left index and middle fingers to the right side of the mouth. Slide the left fingertips to the middle of the cheek. The sign for mistletoe resembles receiving a kiss under the mistletoe.

    Ornament - Form a flattened letter O of the sign language alphabet with both hands. Touch the fingertips together. Hold the hands in front of the chin. Twist the fingertips together three times while moving the hands to the right.

    Reindeer – Form the number 5 in sign language with both hands. Tap the thumbs to the temples of the forehead with the palms facing forward twice. The sign for reindeer resembles reindeer antlers.

    Santa Claus – Form the number 5 in sign language with both hands and curl the fingers and thumbs in to form half circles. Place the hands at the chin. Make two half circles with the hands while moving the hands down from the chin. The sign for Santa Claus resembles a beard.

    Sleigh – Form the letter V of the sign language alphabet with both hands. Begin with the hands in front of the shoulders. Move both hands down at an angle while bending the index and middle fingers. The sign for sleigh resembles the runners on a sleigh.

    Snow – Form the number 5 in sign language with both hands. Begin with the hands on either side of the face. Lower the hands to the waist while wiggling the fingers.

    Star – Form the number 1 in sign language with both hands. Hold the hands in front of the chin with the palms facing forward and the index fingers pointing up. Bounce the fingers up and down.

    Tinsel – Fingerspell the word T-I-N-S-E-L with the sign language alphabet.

    Tree – Hold the left arm in front of the body at waist level with the palm facing down. Place the right elbow on top of the left hand and hold the right arm straight up. Hold the fingers of the right hand apart and twist the right wrist back and forth.

    Wine – Form the letter W of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Circle the W in front of the right cheek.

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    Download Study Sheet

    For a printable download of the ASL signs described in this article, please download the reference sheet Christmas ASL Vocabulary Sheet.

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    Additional Resources

    For videos and pictures of the Christmas signs described in this article, please refer to the following free online resources: