Why do we say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Christmas”?

posted Dec 22, 2018, 6:53 AM by Mary Tocimak

Have you ever wondered why we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Christmas? There are several historical and linguistic reasons. Happy comes from the word happenstance. This means our emotion of feeling happy is based upon some haphazard event or just by chance, we encounter something that makes us happy. It is a temporal feeling. On the other hand, Merry means a more joyous disposition of our heart and soul. It is a constant demeanor throughout our everyday lives. The first expression of “Merry Christmas” occurred in 1534, when John Fisher, an English Bishop, wrote a Christmas letter to Lord Thomas Cromwell. Then in 1843, Sir Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card wishing the recipient a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


When Christ comes into the world on Christmas, it is not a chance happening, but rather a part of God’s designed plan for our salvation. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God promised to send his Son to save us. That is why we celebrate with great joy, this blessed event. That is truly the Good News of all the Scriptures; that God sent his only Son into our world to save us from our sins. As a result, we don’t have to suffer like he did. This is truly not only good news, it is news so great that it should be the one thing we focus on in our daily lives. If we do this, rather than worrying about the problems and issues of everyday life, we will have true joy in our hearts. Our lives will be Merry, rather than stressful and burdening. If we start each day thanking God for the gift of his Son, we will orient our hearts towards gratitude and love, rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day struggles of everyday life. Sure, we will have some good days and bad days, but our joyous disposition will sustain us in the constantly changing world we live in today.


Today, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Joyous and prosperous New Year.

                                                         Fr. John