One hundred and seventy years ago this Christmas, Sir Henry Cole commissioned John Calcott Horsley to paint a greeting card. It contained the phrase “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” making what many consider to be the first commercial Christmas card. The first known use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” (in English) goes back more than 500 years to 1565 and of course there is the English Christmas carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that dates back to the 16th century as well.
In short, we’ve been using the phrase Merry Christmas for a long time. In Great Britain and Ireland, the phrase Happy Christmas is also common. Many think the word Merry carries the connotation of drunkenness and they don’t want that attitude attached to the holiday. A quick internet search will give you a couple websites saying Christians should never utter the phrase. I think there are a lot of people out there with too much time on their hands who spend too much time worrying about the minutia without considering the bigger picture.
Words have the power we give to them. No more, no less. In the early 1960s, the comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested multiple times and driven to bankruptcy for using words that you can now hear after 9 pm on network television and all day on premium cable. There are words today that we can’t even utter without fear of being branded a racist or a terrorist, regardless of the context.
I found a great list of how to say Merry Christmas around the world on the Santas.net website. Here are some of my favorites (Go to the website for the complete list):
Afrikaans: Geseënde Kersfees
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
Bosnian: (BOSANSKI) Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina
Brazilian: Feliz Natal
Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Chinese: (Mandarin) Sheng Dan Kuai Le
Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian: Sretan Bozic
Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish: Glædelig Jul
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast
Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!
Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal
Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
Finnish: Hyvaa joulua
Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French: Joyeux Noel
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
German: Fröhliche Weihnachten
Greek: Kala Christouyenna!
Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew: Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay.
Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie
Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar
Navajo: Merry Keshmish
Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul
Papiamento: Bon Pasco
Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scots Gaelic: Nollaig Chridheil dhuibh
Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Switzerland (Swiss-German): Schöni Wienachte
Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian: Z Rizdvom Khrystovym or S rozhdestvom Kristovym
Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh: Nadolig Llawen
Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!
Regardless of how you say Merry Christmas, or whatever wish you hope to share with others today, do it with love. For me, the basic way will do.