Happy Christmas vs. Merry Christmas

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Dec 24 16:16:22 UTC 2010

My wife, daughter, and I went to a Christmas Eve brunch today which
was attended by a largish group of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Irish,
and Australians. The Americans, Canadians, Irish, and Australians said
Merry Christmas, and the Brits (English and Scots, in this case) said
Happy Christmas. In the past few years, I've noticed that English
people (or at least English expats here in Switzerland) tend to say
Happy Christmas. But I seem to remember that when I lived in England
some twenty years ago, most people I knew said Merry Christmas. This
is all unscientific, unrepresentative, and subjective, but I am
wondering if there is a difference between Brits and other English
speakers in this respect. Is it correct to generalize that Brits these
days tend to say Happy Christmas (But Merry Christmas and a Happy New
Year) and Americans Merry Christmas?

Merry Christmas!


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuchâtel, Switzerland
mobile +41 79 957 5318
paulfrank at bfs.admin.ch
paulfrank at post.harvard.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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