Join FunTrivia for Free: Hourly trivia games, quizzes, community, and more!
Fun Trivia
Ask FunTrivia: Questions and Answers
Answers to 100,000 Fascinating Questions
Welcome to FunTrivia's Question & Answer forum!

Search All Questions

Please cite any factual claims with citation links or references from authoritative sources. Editors continuously recheck submissions and claims.

Archived Questions

Goto Qn #

Why, in some countries, do they say Happy Christmas, while in other countries the expression is Merry Christmas?

Question #75078. Asked by neon000.
Last updated Aug 24 2016.

Answer has 6 votes
20 year member
4407 replies avatar

Answer has 6 votes.
"Happy Christmas" is apparently more common in the U.K. and Ireland, possibly owing to the fact that "merry" can connote overindulgence in alcohol.

Scroll down to "History of the Phrase":


[Link verified on August 22, 2016 by shuehorn]

Response last updated by shuehorn on Aug 22 2016.
Jan 27 2007, 3:13 PM
sjhodges825 star
Answer has 7 votes
Currently Best Answer
sjhodges825 star
18 year member
144 replies

Answer has 7 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
The alternative "Happy Christmas" gained wide usage in the late 19th century, and is still common in the United Kingdom and Ireland. One reason may be the alternative meaning, still current there, of "merry" as "tipsy" or "drunk". Queen Elizabeth II is said to prefer "Happy Christmas" for this reason[3]. In American poet Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (1823), the final line, originally written as "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night", has been changed in many editions to "Merry Christmas to all", perhaps indicating the relative popularity of the phrases in the United States.

[Link verified on August 22, 2016 by shuehorn]

Response last updated by shuehorn on Aug 22 2016.
Jan 27 2007, 3:16 PM
Answer has 3 votes
23 year member
894 replies avatar

Answer has 3 votes.
There is quite a bit of "hesitation" in other languages too. In Dutch e.g. "Vrolijk Kerstmis" (Merry) alternates with "Zalig Kerstfeest" (Blessed). Some religious-minded people seem to avoid "vrolijk" because it does not emphasize the religious meaning.

Zalig Kerstmis in heel veel talen / Katholiek - RK Kerk - Isidorusweb
Wondering if anyone says "Joyful Christmas", which would be closer to French "Joyeux Noël". In a number of languages they stick to the simplicity of "Good Christmas". "

God Jul" (Swedish);"Gute Vaihnaten" (Yiddish); "Buon natale" (Italian). South-African Dutch("Afrikaans")has "Geseendes", which would translate as "Blessed Christmas". Are "Happy"/"Merry" really the only possible phrases in English?

Response last updated by postcards2go on Aug 24 2016.
Jan 27 2007, 3:53 PM
free email trivia FREE! Get a new mixed Fun Trivia quiz each day in your email. It's a fun way to start your day!

arrow Your Email Address:

Sign in or Create Free User ID to participate in the discussion