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Happy Christmas vs Merry Christmas

Quite a few people have said “Happy Christmas” to me, which made me really happy. However it made me wondered why they chose “Happy Christmas” over “Merry Christmas”, as I was taught to say “Merry Christmas” when I was in China. The reasoning behind that is so you can chain “Happy New Year” after “Merry Christmas”, as these two festivals are quite close to each other.

In this blog post, we explore why some people prefer “Happy Christmas” and why some people prefer “Merry Christmas”.

Happy Christmas

The phrase “Happy Christmas” is used by the following people or organisations:

  • DD in a SMS message [1]
  • Dean of Norwich, The Very Revd Jane Hedges, after a Christmas Procession with Carols.
  • Abbot David Charlesworth OSB at the introductory video before BBC One's Midnight Mass.
  • King's College Cambridge in the service booklet for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols [2].
  • BBC Radio 4 in one of the programmes.
  • The Queen herself in Christmas messages[3][4][5][6][7][8].
  • The royal family Christmas cards [9].

Merry Christmas

  • Google Trend suggests that within the United Kingdom, “Merry Christmas” is used more often than “Happy Christmas” [10].
  • Google Books Ngram Viewer suggests that within British English Corpus, “Merry Christmas” is used more often than “Happy Christmas” [11]
  • I conducted a survey using Instagram story, of 63 people who viewed the survey, 15 people voted for “Merry Christmas”, 2 people voted for “Happy Christmas”.
  • Kensington Palace uses “Merry Christmas” at least on their Instagram account [12][13]

Finally, there are a lot of articles on the Internet which explains the origin of the term “Merry Christmas” [14][15][16].

Conclusion

It does seem that “Merry Christmas” is more commonly used. However I am going to stick to what the Queen says. So “Happy Christmas” it is.

It appears that Prince Charles uses “Happy Christmas” too. Kensington Palace is used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they appear to use “Merry Christmas”. So perhaps when Prince William becomes the King, “Merry Christmas” will become common again.


[[1]] Yeh, it was lovely to receive Christmas wishes from her. 😊
[[6]] 2015 Christmas Message Transcript https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35178485
[[15]] The meaning and origin of the expression: Merry Christmas https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/merry-christmas.html
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  • Last modified: 2018/12/26 00:14
  • by fangfufu