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Thursday, 20 December 2018

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Christmas ?

Question? Do you say Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas? Thinking about it sometimes I say Merry and other times Happy. Is there a right way and wrong way?

You may find this article of interest:
"We wish people a 'Happy Birthday', and if you're in the USA in November and December you might say 'Happy Holidays', so why do we say 'Merry Christmas' more often than 'Happy Christmas'?!

Saying 'Merry Christmas' rather than 'Happy Christmas' seems to go back several hundred years. It's first recorded in 1534 when John Fisher (an English Catholic Bishop in the 1500s) wrote it in a Christmas letter to Thomas Cromwell: "And this our Lord God send you a mery Christmas, and a comfortable, to your heart’s desire."

There's also the carol "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" which dates back to the 16th century in England. It comes from the West Country in England and it was first published in the form we know it today in 1760.

In the English language of the time, the phrase 'Rest You Merry' didn't mean simply to be happy; 'rest' meant "to keep, cause to continue to remain" and 'merry' could mean "pleasant, bountiful, prosperous". So you could write the first line as "[May] God keep you and continue to make you successful and prosperous, Gentlemen" but that would be hard to sing!

The comma in the phrase should be AFTER the 'merry' not BEFORE it! But it's often put after the merry which changes the meaning to make 'merry Gentleman' and so a 'Merry Christmas'!

The term 'Merry Christmas' might well have been made very popular in 1843 from two different sources.

The first Christmas Card, sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, had this wording on it: "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You".

"Firstchristmascard". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was also published in 1843 and the phrase 'Merry Christmas' appears 21 times in the book! Charles Dickens also quoted "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" in A Christmas Carol, but changed it to: "God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!" moving the comma to before the merry!

The Carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas [and a Happy New Year]" is another old carol from the 'West Country' (South West England) but was only first published in 1935 and this probably confirmed the use of 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Christmas'."
The above words and picture from an original article here


Perhaps I can offer you a slice of Low Carb Cinnamon Coffee Cake, and a tea or coffee while you ponder the question!


you can find the recipe for this lovely cake here

A variety of articles and recipe ideas are within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues please take these into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

40 comments:

Valerie-Jael said...

Good question, I use merry and happy! In Germany we say 'Frohes Fest!' That cake looks good!
Have a happy/merry time, Valerie

Tom said...

...I say 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.'

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Interesting history lesson, Jan. I say Merry Christmas, which is what I wish to you now, as well as a Happy New Year! And yes, I'd love a piece of that cake.

Christine said...

I say Merry Christmas, the cake looks so good.

Louca por porcelana said...

Very interesting!Your cake looks delicious!Merry Christmas,Jan!Big hug to you!

Things and Thoughts said...

Wishing you the merriest, happiest and brightest Christmas dear Jan! Health and happiness to you and your beloved ones.
Olympia

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm going for the recipe while you all ponder! heehee! Holiday hugs!

Beca said...

Hi Jan! I've always said Merry Christmas. It's an interesting discussion though. I don't see anything wrong with saying Happy Christmas. The sentiment behind it is just the same. Happy Christmas to you and yours.
xx Beca

Sara - Villa Emilia said...

Oh Jan, this was a lovely topic for a post.
Not a native English speaker, I find "Merry Christmas" more common and prefer to use it.
In Finnish, you can see for example printed on postcards many different wishes: merry/cheerful, good, peaceful or blessed Christmas. :)
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas! xx

Conniecrafter said...

I often wondered about this because when we were stationed in England I noticed that most of the people will lived around said Happy Christmas. WE do tend to use Merry more here.
Wishing you and yours both a Happy and Merry Christmas and a fantastic year to come!!

Tanza Erlambang - Speed Up said...

thank you for the quote: "God bless you, merry gentleman! May nothing you dismay!"
Merry Christmas to you

Out on the prairie said...

Went out caroling last night and finished with Wish You A merry Christmas.A fun evening

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Funny you should say that, Jan; it's one of the things mentioned on A Bit About Britain's A-Z of Christmas! I think I'll wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and everything good for the New Year!

Jo said...

I use Happy and Merry but I always use Merry Christmas if I'm also adding Happy New Year.

Miss Val's Creations said...

A fun bit of history! In the states I really only hear Merry Christmas. I suppose that has to do with it being a younger country here.

riitta k said...

As a matter of fact we usually say in Finland Good Christmas - Hyvää joulua, more seldom Merry Christmas - Iloista joulua - funny. But I wish you now like this:

We Wish You a Merry♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Christmas♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪We Wish You a Merry ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Christmas ♥ ♥ ♥We Wish You A Merry ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Christmas ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
And a Happy New Year!!!

Elephant's Child said...

I use both - and will have to watch and see if there is a pattern.

Susan Kane said...


I use both. In Ireland it was Happy Christmas, both have the same joy!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I either say 'Happy Christmas' or 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' two happy's in one sentence would be too much!

William Kendall said...

That coffee cake looks delicious!

happyone said...

I say Merry Christmas. Interesting post.

Maria Rodrigues said...

Hi Jan,
I wish to you and to your loved ones, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, full of health, joy and love.
A warm and big hug
Maria de
Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

only slightly confused said...

We say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year....if we're feeling silly we say Cherry Mismas.

Martha said...

I usually say Merry Christmas. But I've also said Happy Christmas. I get it all depends on who I'm saying it to. Sometimes I'll also say Happy Holidays. It doesn't really matter. Just wishing someone well and saying something nice is a good thing.

Margaret D said...

Merry Christmas here and always will be.
Hope you have a wonderful one.

Linda said...

I wish you merry.

Jules said...

I usually say 'Merry Christmas' but you've got me thinking now. X

Iris Flavia said...

We say "froh" ot "fröhliche", which is both translated with merry and cheerful, but in English "merry" sounds more like it.
Though these days you could also call it hectical...

Lady Fi said...

Fascinating info! I usually say Merry Christmas, but notice that the Queen says Happy Christmas...

roughterrain crane said...

I say Merry Christmas. I have not heard someone says Happy Christmas. Thanks to your post, I will sometimes use "Happy" Christmas.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Definitely MERRY Christmas

Flighty said...

I have received cards which say both, and I don't really have a preference. One card was different as it said Jolly Christmas, which I've not seen before. xx

Gloria Baker said...

Merry Christmas !!

Mary Kirkland said...

I've always said Merry Christmas.

Teresa said...

Te deseo una feliz navidad. Besitos.

Snowbird said...

Oh, I'm going with merry now! An enjoyable post.xxx

carol l mckenna said...

Great post about 'Christmas' history and yummy looking crumb cake too!

Happy Holidays to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Phil Slade said...

Good question. I often vary it according to who I'm talking. Some friends and neighbours don't "do Christmas" for a variety of reasons so I might say "Happy Holiday" or just "Have a nice break". Otherwise I guess the standard "Happy Christmas is the one.

Don't get me started on apostrophes, full stops, capitals, commas or the general standard of modern day grammar or we'll be here all night.

Have a wonderful time down there in Dorset.

NCmountainwoman said...

Interesting. Our daughter is visiting and we were watching our favorite British mysteries. We noticed that more often than not the characters said, "Happy Christmas" rather than "Merry Christmas." Love the cake recipe.

bill burke said...

Merry Christmas is what I say.