Friday, December 2, 2016

How do you say “Merry Christmas” in German?

Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings
Gingerbread hearts with German Christmas greetings at Christmas market in downtown Bremen: “Frohe Weihnachten” und “Frohes Fest

  • English: “Merry Christmas”
  • German: “Frohe Weihnachten or “Fröhliche Weihnachten 

Merry Christmas” means “Frohe Weihnachten” (pronounced: froo-he vi-nach-tenn) in German. Note that the first “h” in “Weihnachten” is not pronounced.  The dipthong “ch” is glutteral. The longer greeting “Fröhliche Weihnachten” is used synonymously for “Frohe Weihnachten.”

The shorter version “Frohe Weihnachten”often is the preferred form in writing—such as the sugar-ink writing on gingerbread hearts, one of which is shown in the picture above. The blue-rimmed heart in the background says: “Frohes Fest.” In this context, “Fest” means “holiday” with the undertone of “celebration.”

If you are going to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in German or want to finish your letter, postcard or e-mail with a seasonal greeting, you also could include the word  “Tag” (meaning “day”) or “Zeit” (meaning “time”) in  your greeting phrase. “Ich wünsche Ihnen frohe Weihnachtstage!” means “I wish you merry Christmas Days!” Yes, there are two official Christmas holidays in Germany (December 25 and December 26). “Ich wünsche Ihnen und Ihrer Familie eine frohe Weihnachtszeit!” means “I wish you and your family a merry Christmas time!

Keywords: Christmas greeting; translation; Übersetzen; English-German; Englisch-Deutsch.

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