6 ways to say Merry Christmas in German
Published on October 20, 2022 / Updated on January 5, 2024
Germans love Christmas. It’s easily the most important celebration of the year. And it’s a time when supermarkets and shops in Germany will put out delicious Christmas cookies, chocolates, other treats and tree decorations. And the celebrations are for all. You’ll find people from all creeds and backgrounds packing Christmas markets and stores to join in on the bustle of the Christmas season. And because it’s never too early for Christmas, it is never too early to learn these 6 ways to wish someone a Merry Christmas in German.
Frohe Weihnachten is the classic for Merry Christmas in German. It is short, spot on and easy to learn — even for beginners. Frohe means joyful and Weihnachten of course translates to Christmas. Nothing could describe this magical time of the year with all its treats, decorations and stories better.
Fröhliche Weihnachten is the more traditional way to wish someone a happy Christmas in German (as opposed to Frohe Ostern for happy Easter). Fröhlich also means happy, but similar to the English word merry, it indicates a more vivid form of joyfulness. As such it might be the better wish for Christmas indeed, but Frohe Weihnachten is more often used.
How would you say Merry Christmas in German if you’re not sure the person you’re talking to celebrates Christmas? For these cases, Germans have the same solution as the English-speaking world. Schöne Feiertage means the same as happy holidays, although schön literally translates to beautiful. And yes, the few days off work between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day are indeed a beautiful thing.
Frohes Fest is more or less interchangeable with Frohe Weihnachten, but maybe a bit more formal. Fest means feast in English so it refers to the celebration as a whole. You would usually say Frohe Weihnachten on Christmas day, but Frohes Fest is a good thing to wish your colleagues when you all say goodbye for the holidays.
This one has a very festive ring to it, but also a very religious one. Gesegnet means blessed, so you might reserve this one for people who attend church on Christmas. It’s also good for Christmas cards, taking up a bit more space than the two short words of Frohe Weihnachten.
If you don’t expect to see someone between Christmas and New Year, you best wish them Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr, which means Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in German. It’s also the standard sentence for Christmas cards. Instead of ein gutes neues Jahr you can also wish a glückliches neues Jahr (meaning just the same, but also wishing luck for the new year) or Alles Gute zum neuen Jahr (All the best for the new year). Less formal is Guten Rutsch which literally means to slide or glide into the new year well. Another way to say this is Komm gut rüber (get well to the other side (of the year)). Prosit Neujahr comes from the Latin word prodesse and means “may the new year be good to you”. But what people actually think of when saying Prosit Neujahr is clinking glasses. Cheers!
There are many ways to say Merry Christmas in German. But Frohe Weihnachten, Fröhliche Weihnachten and Frohes Fest are the most commonly used phrases. To take out the religious connotation, you can wish Frohe Feiertage (Happy Holidays) or make it decidedly religious with Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest (a blessed Christmas). Either way, start spreading the joy of the festive season and don’t forget to add und ein gutes neues Jahr to wish a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” to your German friends.