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Home News How “Merry Christmas” Got Started and Why We Still Say It

How “Merry Christmas” Got Started and Why We Still Say It

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How “Merry Christmas” Got Started and Why We Still Say It

(FamilyConservationPAC.com) – Have you ever wondered where the saying “Merry Christmas” originated?

You’ve probably been wishing friends and family a “Merry Christmas” as December 25 draws near. This year, you may have included it in a few Instagram captions and on the front of your holiday cards.

After all, that “merry” component of “Merry Christmas” is pretty distinctive in a nation where greetings like “Happy Easter” and “Happy Birthday” are standard. Although the origin of the “merry” is unknown, there are a few intriguing hypotheses.

Hold on. Who says “Happy Christmas” to each other?

To begin with, it’s noteworthy that “Happy Christmas” hasn’t entirely disappeared—it’s still a standard greeting in England.

This is thought to be the case because “happy” came to be associated with a higher social level than “merry,” which was connected to the rough and tumble behavior of the lower classes.

Others noticed that the royal family made “Happy Christmas” their go-to greeting. (In actuality, Queen Elizabeth still wishes her people a “Happy Christmas,” as opposed to a joyous one, every year.)

However, the song “Merry Christmas” dates back to at least 1534. That much is evident from a dated letter from bishop John Fisher to Henry VIII’s top minister, Thomas Cromwell.

The well-known expression is also used in the English carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which dates back to the 1500s.

So, when did “Merry Christmas” replace “Happy Christmas” in American culture?

Historians speculate that it may come down to a basic instruction in grammar. “Merry” is more of a behavior descriptor, something lively and possibly even boisterous, whereas “happy” denotes an inner emotional state.

For instance, contrast the spontaneous act of “merry-making” with the condition of merely “being happy.”

During the 18th and 19th centuries, people gradually stopped using “merry” since both words altered and evolved. It persisted in everyday expressions such as “the more, the merrier,” and in Christmas songs and stories, partly because of Charles Dickens’s influence.

Many of the Christmas customs that exist now were shaped by the Victorian Christmas.

It makes sense that the song “Merry Christmas” now evokes sentimentality. We increasingly associate “merry” with December 25, even on its own.

So now you know how “Merry Christmas” started and why we still say it now.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas, and may you have a happy new year!

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