"Merry Christmas"

Barbara Need nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Sun Dec 26 02:54:01 UTC 2004

>On Dec 25, 2004, at 3:08 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: "Merry Christmas"
>>On Dec 25, 2004, at 11:47 AM, Barbara Need wrote:
>>>... I was recently rereading an Agatha Christie in which someone
>>>another person "Merry Christmas", so the question may be, when the
>>>British start saying "Happy Christmas"?
>>americans said it too: recall the final line of the famous poem of
>>Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I won't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure I have heard the poem
receited with "Merry".

>Sigh! It's to my own great annoyance that I'm forced to point out that
>Americans *still* say "Happy Christmas." I always reply, "You mean,
>'*Merry* Christmas.'" One can only try.

I asked a Brit today about this and he reports that Happy Christmas
is a recent phenomenon in England, within the last 20 years. He said
that it was a reaction to the association between _merry_ and
drinking and people didn't want Christmas connected to drinking.

I realize it is probably far more complicated than that (ain't it always!).


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