How to say Merry Christmas in Europe

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How to say Merry Christmas in Europe

When traveling in foreign countries, I always try to pick up a few words to make an effort to communicate in the local language. Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, and Please are the standards and then any other interesting word that is commonly used.

Dropping in a friendly hello in the local language will bring a smile to your hosts face in appreciation of your efforts in trying to learn and appreciate the country you are in.

In preparation for my December trips to Europe Christmas Markets, I look up and try to learn to how to say Merry Christmas in each local language to wish a Merry Christmas to my local hosts and strangers I meet at the local markets who soon become friends.

British Isles

In London, while shopping at the department stores or visiting the Christmas Markets, you will likely hear “Happy Christmas”.

They say it differently in the UK! At first this struck me as odd as in America we say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”.

But if you actually stop and think about it, we say “Happy” and not “Merry” with every other festive event: “Happy birthday,” “Happy New Year’s Day,” “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Happy Easter,” “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.”

Most linguists and historians will define “Happy” as a word that describes an inner emotional condition. “Merry” is more of a behavior descriptor related to being active, raucous or even tipsy.

So, we Americans might be saying it wrong! Or we might just be wishing everyone a more rowdy Christmas instead of a positive emotion.x

English (British): Happy Christmas
Irish Gaelic: Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Scotttish: Blithe Yule
Welsh: Nadolig Llawen


Western Europe

The first Christmas Markets took place in Germany dating back to 1385.

Today, Christmas Markets are an essential part of the German culture with each town holding one or many markets. Locals meet their friends and enjoy a drink of Glühwein surrounded by Christmas lights and decor.

How to say Merry Christmas in these western European countries:

French: Joyeux Noël
German: Frohe Weihnachten
Alsatian: E güeti Wïnâchte
Swiss: Schöni Wiehnachte
Italian: Buon Natale
Portugese: Feliz Natal
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Maltese: Il-Milied it-Tajjeb

Christmas Markets - Cologne

Northern Europe

Northern European markets bring another essential element for a classic Christmas setting – SNOW!

If you go far enough North, you might even find some reindeer.

These ones are a little harder to pronounce for English speakers but an essential greeting in the Northern European Christmas Markets.  Here is how to say Merry Christmas in Northern Europe:

Finland: Hyvää joulua
Latvia: Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
Lithuania: Linksmų Kalėdų
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Danish: Glædelig Jul
Iceland: Gleðileg jól
Norway: Gledelig Jul
Swedish: God Jul

Christmas in Finland

Eastern Europe

While the main Eastern European cities of Prague and Budapest are busy, the smaller towns are undiscovered gems.

You might feel like one of the few tourists getting a glimpse of the charming local traditions.  Learn how to say Merry Christmas and you will be treated by locals appreciating your efforts.

Poland: Wesołych Świąt
Czech Republic: Veselé Vánoce!
Slovakian: Veselé Vianoce
Bulgaria: Vesela Koleda
Slovenia: Vesel Božič
Hungary: Boldog karácsonyt
Romania: Crăciun Fericit

Christmas Markets - Brno

Bring some holiday cheer with you on your trip to Europe for the Christmas Markets.

Learning a few words in the local language will reward you with smiles and goodwill from your hosts and people you interact with along the way.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Joyeuses fêtes

French: Happy Holidays

Christmas Markets - Gingerbread Cookie - Happy Holidays

Inspired to visit Europe's Christmas Markets?