Merry Christmas happy christmas Charles Dickens

Difference between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Christmas”

Merry Christmas Vs Happy Christmas

The word “Merry” stems from the old English myrge, which means “pleasing, agreeable, pleasant or sweet”, and Christmas stems from the late Old English Cristes mæsse, that means “Mass of Christ.”


The greeting “Merry Christmas” dates back to  1565, when the author of the Hereford Municipal Manuscript wrote “And thus I comytt you to God, who send you a mery Christmas & many.”  It was solidified as a capitalized greeting by Charles Dickens in his great work A Christmas Carol.


Charles Dickens and Queen Elizabeth

However, Queen Elizabeth didn’t like how “merry” sounds. That’s the reason why she preferred “happy” to “merry” , and she used it in her broadcasts to her subjects, so the term gained popularity over the following decades and it is still the most common form in Great Britain and Ireland.

Odd as it may seem, the fact is that today, in England and much of its  Commonwealth, the common greeting is “Happy Christmas”  whereas “Merry Christmas”, a more archaic expression,  is what people say in America.

So Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas to all my fellow readers!

Merry Christmas in French: Joyeux Noël!
Merry Christmas in Spanish: ¡Feliz Navidad!
Merry Christmas in German: Frohe Weihnachten!
Merry Christmas in Italian: Buon Natale!
Merry Christmas in Portuguese: Feliz Natal!
Merry Christmas in Japanese: メリークリスマス
Merry Christmas in Russian: С Рождеством!
Merry Christmas in Dutch: Vrolijk kerstfeest!
Merry Christmas in Swedish: God jul!
Merry Christmas in Czech: Veselé vánoce!
Merry Christmas in Turkish: Mutlu Noeller!
Merry Christmas in Catalan: Bon Nadal!
Merry Christmas in Basque: Eguberry on!
Merry Christmas in Galician: Bo Nadal!…


Difference between Merry Xmas and Happy Xmas

One thought on “Difference between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Christmas””

  1. Thanks for the Christmas phrase info. I never knew that the expression “Happy Christmas” was more common in the UK. The various translations of “Merry Christmas” in other languages was a nice finishing touch, too.

    Next we’ll have to gather multilingual expressions for “Happy New Year.” Here are two to start:

    Spanish: ¡Prospero año nuevo!

    Swedish: Gott nytt år!

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