Why do we say Merry Christmas and not Happy Christmas?

Aug 26th 2019

Why do we say Merry Christmas and not Happy Christmas?

Where Does Merry Christmas Come From?

While there are indications ‘Merry Christmas’ was used as far back as the 1500s, the phrase was not popular until 1843, when two things happened. One, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published. The novella (that’s right, a novella before it was a play) was incredibly popular and the celebratory salutation was used throughout. The Victorian public took the phrase to a new level of popular usage.Two, the very first commercial Christmas card was circulated. The message of ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’ goes far in explaining the use of merry, as any marketing editor will tell you, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year doesn’t have the snap of a successful holiday expression.

Who Uses ‘Happy’ Christmas?

With the influences of commercial cards and a ridiculously popular story transforming usage, why is ‘Happy’ Christmas still used? Apparently the Queen of England is the cause. Her annual Christmas message uses the phrase, and all official royal announcements do as well. She apparently prefers the content condition of happy to the boisterous behavior of merry. So Britain and numerous Commonwealth countries, notably Australia, use ‘Happy Christmas’ to this day.

Watch Your Commas

One use of merry that inspired Dickens was in the carol God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen. Except the comma is in the wrong place! The correct writing is God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, meaning God keep you in prosperity and health, rather than God make you take a nap. And there is something to be said for the call to ‘merry-making’ in the phrase as opposed to the admonition merely to be ‘happy’.

Merry Christmas For All

The secularity of many modern Christmas traditions coupled with the widespread popularity of the holiday has made Christmas a time of joy and celebration for anyone who wishes to have it, Christian, non-Christian, and atheist alike. Perhaps that alone warrants the special case use of ‘merry’ in Merry Christmas, which is as special a holiday as holidays can get.

Browse Business Christmas Cards

Related Articles

When did people start sending Christmas cards?

Poor Sir Henry Cole had a problem. He was popular. Real popular. And in 1843 England that meant lots of Christmas and New Year’s letters from all sorts of important people. With the English penny post

Read More →
Should I send Christmas thank you cards?

The holiday season is here and that means it is time for presents and parties. It is also time to express our gratitude towards others and to show them how much they mean to us. Many people are uncert

Read More →
What are some of the most creative birthday cards?

Giving birthday cards is a time-honored tradition to remind our friends and family how much they mean to us. If you find yourself sending a lot of birthday cards throughout the year, you may consider

Read More →