How Many Languages Can You Say Merry Christmas In?

EDUCATION

Brittany Rowland

6 Min Quiz

Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Christmas is celebrated around the world in a multitude of ways. For that reason, you can find a "Merry Christmas" greeting in virtually every language! So no matter what continent you happen to be on when December 25th rolls around, you can always greet the locals with a cheerful "Frohe Weihnachten," "Sheng Dan Kuai Le" or "Mele Kalikimaka"!

And as varied as the Christmas greetings are, so are the Christmas traditions. Some countries that are traditionally Christian emphasize the religious nature of the holiday, attending church services and decorating their towns with nativity scenes. Many countries also have long-standing Christmas traditions, many of them revolving around Santa Claus (who gets a new name in almost every country, too). Children may hang stockings on Christmas Eve, or they may leave their shoes out in hopes that St. Nick will fill them with presents. Even some countries with few Christians, like Japan, acknowledge Christmas in a secular sense and enjoy the decorations and the gift-giving traditions.

If you think you know all there is to know about Christmas, now is the time to prove it! See how many of these languages you can say "Merry Christmas" in. We promise not to rat you out to Santa if you can't get them all right!


The next time you're visiting Paris for the holidays, do you know how to say "Merry Christmas" in French?

Children in France await the arrival of Père Noël (Father Christmas), who brings them gifts. Families also traditionally enjoy a bûche de Noël, or a chocolate sponge cake. Bon appetit!

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Ready for a Christmas in Italy? First, can you say "Merry Christmas" in Italian?

St. Francis of Assisi helped make the Nativity scene a popular Christmas tradition in Italy. Italian families usually set up their Nativity cribs on Dec. 8 and save baby Jesus for Christmas Eve.

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Aloha! If you're visiting the 50th state in December, can you say "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian?

This one is easy if you can remember the song "Mele Kalikimaka" popularized by Bing Crosby in 1950. Missionaries brought Christmas traditions to Hawaii in the early 1800s, and today celebrations include surfing!

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How do people say "Merry Christmas" in German?

In Germany, Christmas trees have a long tradition dating back to the Middle Ages! Families typically put up their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. And popular carols include "O Tannenbaum" and "Stille Nacht."

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If someone wishes you "Veselé Vánoce," can you name the language they're speaking?

In the Czech Republic, people also celebrate St. Nicholas Eve on Dec. 5. St. Nicholas gives children a basket of goodies (or a lump of coal if they've been bad). Also, fish soup is a popular Christmas Eve meal.

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Can you say "Merry Christmas" in Greek? It's all Greek to us!

Greek children have the long-standing tradition of going caroling on Christmas Eve, playing drums and triangles and often carrying toy boats. People give them candy and money for their songs.

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Can you say "Merry Christmas" in Spanish (and hum the popular song)?

Many families in Spain attend La Misa Del Gallo, the Mass of the Rooster, or Midnight Mass. In the days leading up to Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), children often go caroling and collect some money.

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Perhaps Catherine Zeta-Jones knows how to say "Merry Christmas" in Welsh. Do you?

The famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas recorded his fond Christmas memories in "A Child's Christmas in Wales." In this work, he recalls the wonder and excitement he felt at Christmas as a child. Pretty universal feelings!

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Someone says "Nollaig Chridheil" to you. They're saying "Merry Christmas" in which language?

Traditionally, Christmas, or Yule, was not a major celebration in Scotland. It only became an official public holiday in 1871. However, in recent years Scotland has developed new festivities for the holiday!

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When in Portugal, can you say "Merry Christmas" as the Portuguese do?

In Portugal, Pai Natal (Father Christmas) leaves gifts for children on Christmas Eve, either placing them under the tree or in shoes left by the hearth. At Mass, everyone lines up to kiss a picture of baby Jesus.

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People in Poland wish each other "Merry Christmas" with what greeting?

During Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, people in Poland reflect on the meaning of the holiday and go to Mass frequently. At school, kids put on Nativity plays, called Jasełka.

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If you were in Albania, how would you tell people "Merry Christmas"?

Although Albania was an atheist state under Communism, a number of people still celebrate Christmas. Christians in Albania attend Christmas Eve Mass, and children receive presents from Babagjyshi i Vitit te Ri.

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Do you know how to say "Merry Christmas" in Hungarian?

Families in Hungary traditionally decorate the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve, which is called Szent-este. Some parents surprise their children by decorating the tree secretly. They also enjoy Beigli, a poppy cake.

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Time to brush off your dead languages! How do you say "Merry Christmas" in Latin?

"Felicem Diem Nativitatis" literally means "Merry Day of the Nativity" in Latin. This phrase would be handy to pick up if you wanted to impress your old Latin teacher. Just don't ask us to conjugate it!

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Can you say "Merry Christmas" in the Inuit language?

In the Arctic, churches hold Mass in both English and Inuktitut, the Inuit language. In some areas so far north, Christmas trees have to be imported because they can't grow there!

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The next time you visit Port-au-Prince, can you tell people "Merry Christmas" in Haitian Creole?

In Haiti, children place their shoes, filled with straw, under the Christmas tree in hopes that Tonton Nwèl (Santa) will replace the straw with presents! As in France, Haitians enjoy a meal called "reveillon" on Christmas.

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Someone tells you "Eid Milad Majid." Do you know which language they're saying "Merry Christmas" in?

In Arabic, "Eid Milad Majid" literally means "Glorious Birth Feast." In Egypt, Christians are the minority, but they still enjoy Christmas traditions. Kids, for instance, leave "kahk," sweet biscuits, for Baba Noël.

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You're visiting Belgium and want to wish someone "Merry Christmas" in Dutch. What do you say?

Children in Belgium leave treats for Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and his assistant, Zwarte Piet, on St. Nicholas' Eve. Kids know better than to misbehave, or Zwarte Piet will take them away in a sack!

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It's time to wish your friend from Greenland a "Merry Christmas"! How do you say it in Greenlandic?

Since Greenland in winter doesn't see much sunlight, people traditionally place illuminated "poinsettia stars" in their windows to give the towns some light. They also enjoy "mattak," whale skin and blubber.

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When in Sweden, you can tell your friends "Merry Christmas" in Swedish with what words?

A Christmastime tradition in Sweden is a festival honoring St. Lucia, a Christian martyr. Towns choose a girl to play this young saint, and she wears a white dress and a crown of candles.

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You hear someone say "Chúc mừng Giáng Sinh." They're wishing you "Merry Christmas" in what tongue?

Although Christmas isn't a public holiday in Vietnam, crowds of young people gather in Ho Chi Minh City on Christmas Eve to view the Christmas decorations in stores. Christians attend Midnight Mass, too.

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How would you say "Merry Christmas" to someone in Turkish?

Because Turkey is a Muslim-majority country, it doesn't recognize Christmas as an official holiday. Still, some stores decorate with Christmas trees and Santas. People save their celebrating for New Year's Eve.

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It's time to show off your Catalan-speaking skills. How do you say "Merry Christmas" in this language?

Spain has different regions that speak different languages. In Catalan, for instance, people wish each other "Bon Nadal." Also, children receive presents on both Christmas and the Epiphany (Jan. 6).

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If you're going to Scotland, can you say "Merry Christmas" in Scots?

Christmas became an official holiday in Scotland in 1958, and starting in the 1980s, it became more widely celebrated. Today, people enjoy Christmas markets, shopping, Christmas displays and ice skating.

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"Maligayang Pasko" is how you say "Merry Christmas" in what language?

Tagalog is one of the languages spoken in the Philippines. Because about 80% of Filipinos are Catholic, Christmas is a major holiday in the country. The parol, which represents the Star of Bethlehem, is a popular decoration.

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If you wanted to wish a Maori person in New Zealand "Merry Christmas," how would you say it?

Because Christmas in New Zealand falls in summer, people celebrate by surfing and enjoying the beach. Even Santa wears sandals in the heat! And children leave him pineapple chunks instead of cookies.

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"Merry Christmas" in the Navajo language is what?

Many Navajo celebrate Christmas by gathering with family, exchanging gifts and eating nice meals together. Those who attend church services sing traditional Christmas songs like "Silent Night" ⁠— in Navajo!

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To wish a Finnish person "Merry Christmas," what would you say?

Santa Claus lives near, according to the Finnish! They believe he lives in Korvatunturi, an area of Finland north of the Arctic Circle. They even have a theme park called Christmas Land!

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"Merry Christmas" in Swahili is what?

In Kenya, where Swahili is spoken, people traditionally attend church at midnight on Christmas Eve and then party the rest of the night! They decorate their houses and churches with balloons, flowers and ribbons.

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Next time you visit South Africa, you can say "Merry Christmas" in Afrikaans! How do you say it?

In South Africa, Christmas comes in the summer, so many families go camping for their Christmas break! People also enjoy their Christmas dinner out in the sun, often with a barbecue!

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A person from Croatia would say "Merry Christmas" in what way?

People in Croatia traditionally celebrate with an Advent wreath with four candles. Children stay on their best behavior lest Krampus, Santa's helper, leave them twigs instead of presents.

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Do you know how to say "Merry Christmas" in Hebrew?

Much of Israel's Christian population lives in Nazareth, Jesus' hometown. People decorate the city with lights in celebration of both Christmas and Hanukkah. Nazareth also has a parade and fireworks.

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In Japan, "Merry Christmas" is said how?

People celebrate Christmas in Japan, but in a secular way. Christmas Eve is particularly popular with young Japanese couples, who give each other gifts and go out for a romantic evening!

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Someone wishes you "Crăciun Fericit." What language are they speaking?

Romanians call St. Nicholas Sfantul Nicolae, and children leave out their shoes for him to fill with gifts. They also go out caroling, and someone will dress as the "Capra," or goat, and dance to the songs!

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On your next trip to Switzerland over the holidays, you can wish people "Merry Christmas" in what way?

Families in Switzerland typically buy and decorate their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve, often lighting the trees with real candles! They light the trees again on New Year's Eve for good luck.

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