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How Do You Say "Merry Christmas" in German: Formally, And Informally

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Now that Christmas is just a bit over two weeks away, you might be wondering how to wish your German in-laws, friends, colleagues fellow students or German teacher a Merry Christmas in German. This post will explain that there are actually a few ways to do so- in a formal or informal, religious or neutral manner.

The most common ways to wish someone a "Merry Christmas", which can be used interchangeably, are

"Frohe Weihnachten!" and "fröhliche Weihnachten!" (Merry Christmas or literally a "joyous Christmas!)

These two are the standard greetings that assume someone is celebrating Christmas.

If you want to keep it more informal, use

"Frohes Fest!" (Happy celebration!)

The latter is the abbreviation from "frohes Weihnachtsfest!" (happy Christmas celebration!) and is used quite a lot among younger people and work colleagues.

If you're not sure if the person is actually celebrating Christmas, you can wish them the following to keep things neutral.

"Schöne Feiertage!" (Happy holidays!)

The latter is also common among work colleagues because most people are off work between the 24th and the 26th of December or even right until the New Year. Since most people spend Christmas with their family and maybe some close friends and don't see their colleagues until early January, they wish them

"Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr" or "Frohe Weihnachten und alles Gute für das neue Jahr" (Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!)

The former is more informal, particularly because of the second part of the phrase "einen guten Rutsch", which literally translates as "a good slide into the New Year" and is used to wish a smooth start into the New Year rather than you breaking your legs. So in that sense it's akin to the English saying "break a leg", except that it's applied to New Year's wishes in German.

If you're absolutely certain that the person celebrates Christmas in a traditional way, say

"Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest" (a blessed Christmas)

Wish all that in mind, I wish everyone reading this "Merry Christmas and a happy 2023" (Frohe Weihnachten und ein fröhliches Jahr 2023)!

If you want to learn German in the New Year, make sure you check out our small German courses with only 5 students per class, which are taught by excellent native German tutors. To learn more about other phrases in German, such as "I am cold" , 11 interesting facts about the German language, or if you have questions about German grammar, you might want to take a look at our German language blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!". You'll find explanations of the four German cases, German word order, German pronouns and many more.


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