Fri. Jan 15th, 2021

25 December is just around the corner, and you have no doubt that “Merry Christmas” is sending each of your grocery store cashiers to your friends and family members. This year you are signing this sentence in all your Instagram captions and Christmas cards. After all, this is the ultimate Christmas wish in America!

But have you ever wondered where the phrase “Merry Christmas” actually came from? However, on most other holidays, we use the word “happy”. In a world where “Happy Easter” and “Happy Birthday” are common, the “Merry” part of “Merry Christmas” is unique.

No one is completely sure of the answer, but there are many interesting theories.

Wait. Does anyone say “Happy Christmas”?

The beginning of my Christmas
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hold on. Does anyone say “Happy Christmas”?
Yes! For starters, it’s important to note that “Happy Christmas” is not completely gone – it is still widely used in England. This is because “happiness” took on a higher meaning than “mine” which was associated with lower-class utility. The royal family adopted “Happy Christmas” as a greeting of their choice, and others took note. (In fact, every year Queen Elizabeth wishes her citizens a Merry Christmas instead of a Happy.)

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But “Merry Christmas” has been used since at least 1534. A letter from Bishop John Fisher to Henry VIII’s Chief Minister Thomas Cromwell reveals that. Carol also uses the popular phrase, “We wish you a Merry Christmas,” which was introduced in the 1500s.

Mother and daughter decorating a Christmas tree
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So when did “Happy Christmas” become “Merry Christmas”?

So when did “Happy Christmas” become “Merry Christmas”?

Historians think it boils down to a simple grammatical lesson. “Happiness” is a word that describes the inner state of emotion, while “mine” is more a description of a behavior. For example, consider the process of “being happy” only in the process of freely encouraging “happiness”.

As the evolution and meaning of both words changed over time, people gradually stopped using “Mary” as their personal word during the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s stuck in common phrases like “at most, Mayer” as well as things like Christmas songs and stories, largely due to the influence of Charles Dickens. Victorian Christmas continues to illustrate many of today’s Christmas traditions.

Not surprisingly, now that we hear “Merry Christmas,” we hear something emotional. Even now the word “mine” makes us think of December 25th.

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