Why "Merry Christmas"?

Why do we say “Merry” at Christmas, but “Happy” for the other holidays?

The British say “Happy Christmas”, or, it is at least accepted there.

etv78, this is really more of a GQ type post, so I’ve moved it there from MPSIMS.

There’s an actual (factual) answer? To be fair, I couldn’t figure out which forum ti DID belong in.

As you should no doubt expect by now, there’s a Wikipedia article on the subject. According to it, “Merry Christmas” was popularized by Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (which is actually responsible for a lot of the Christmas traditions).

Doesn’t matter if there’s a factual answer - you’re asking an etymological question, which will at least have a factual basis.

I say “Happy Christmas” at times. Quite frequently, in fact.

I partly suspect that the proximity of Xmas to New Year’s contributes to the custom. Since one frequently gives greetings for both holidays at once, it seems awkward to say “Happy Christmas & Happy New Year.” Changing the first happy to merry makes it sound better.

No cite, as I drew that conclusion from my rectum.

Well said and well said.

It’s accepted, but it’s traditionally “Merry Xmas and Happy NY”.

Happy New York?

Yes, in fact just a year ago I heard ERII say “Merry Christmas” not “Happy …”. On TV, of course.

I always thought it was a British thing to say “Happy Christmas” based on Hermione stating thus to Harry in the first HP movie.

And Jim Hacker translating Sir Humphrey’s convoluted and lengthy discourse to “Happy Christmas”.

I really suspect the carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” had as much to do with it as anything.

Now bring me some figgy pudding!

I always wondered if it had to do with the connotations of the words. Merry may mean happy, but it also implies a gathering of people, a festive occasion, and having fun. It’s not a quiet or lonely happy at all.

Then again, that may have come with the association with Christmas.

Us Brits definitely say Merry Christmas and as pointed out above it was probably a phrase that was born in England. Being merry suggests drunkenness so perhaps the Harry Potter writers thought it would be more appropriate to say “happy” in a kids film.

FWIW A Visit From St. Nicholas originally ended with Santa saying “Happy Christmas to all”.

It’s lots older than that.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon in 1971.

I took rachelellogram’s post to mean that she assumed “Happy Christmas” was a British thing because it was said in Harry Potter; not that she thought it started with Harry Potter.

I was at the Dickens Fair on Saturday, and everyone seemed to be saying “Happy Christmas”.