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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Christmas Mysteries
My understanding had always been that the British were more likely to say "Merry Christmas" than "Happy Christmas", but that it was the other way around in the States, and that under American influence the H word was gaining currency here too. However, an Ngram of British written usage suggests that Merry is not only maintaining but increasing its ascendancy, at least in published sources:

Screenshot 2015-11-07 14.32.34

More than that, Merry is even more dominant in the States, and always has been.

Screenshot 2015-11-07 14.32.21

So there you go. Live and learn.

However, now I'm intrigued by the 20-year decline in American festive greetings from the early '40s to the early '60s - an era I think of as the epitome of the chestnuts-on-an-open-fire, ultra-wholesome American Christmas, with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Jimmy Stewart, 34th St and all. Yet the number of Christmas greetings (at least in print) more or less halved in that period. Perhaps the association between Christmas trees and the Red Flag brought the festival under suspicion with the McCarthyites?

This Mancunian says Happy Christmas. Of course it leaves you searching for a variation if you wish to move on to felicitations for the New Year; I seem to remember "a prosperous New Year" doing the rounds a few years ago, but it sounds rather mercenary. But the Swedes just say "God jul och gott nytt år" so maybe a different adjective is unnecessarily fussy.

"A prosperous New Year" sounds suspiciously Chinese (the most common way of offering New Year's wishes during the Spring Festival in Chinese is "gong xi fa cai" in Mandarin/"gong hey fat choy" in Cantonese, which is basically wishing a prosperous New Year - so yet another example where cultural norms about what's appropriate differ. "Xin nian kuai le" (happy New Year) is also okay but not quite as common.).

Edited at 2015-11-09 03:42 am (UTC)

To be honest, unless you're writing a seasonal song that's trying to cover all bases, you don't normally use them both at once in conversation. If it's Christmas Day (the only time we actually said "Happy Christmas", you've not yet reached New Year and if it is New Year, you've missed the boat as far as Christmas is concerned. :)