The holidays are upon us (here)! I love this time of year, because I get to see my family, eat lots of Christmas cookies, and enjoy different holiday traditions throughout the month of December. To help spread the holiday cheer this year, we thought we would teach you how to say happy holidays in different languages. Consider it a holiday treat from us at Bespeaking!
Learning how to say happy holidays in different languages is a great way to help spread Christmas traditions around the world, and if you’re traveling over the holidays, knowing how to wish people well in a different language may help bring you along your way. So with no further ado (fuss or trouble, delay), here’s how to say happy holidays in different languages.
On Christmas Eve in Italy, following a long Catholic tradition, Italians will usually fast (not eat any food) throughout the day. In Vatican City, the Pope will hold a midnight mass that people can attend to welcome in Christmas Day. And rather than exchanging (giving) gifts on Christmas Day like we do in the United States, Italians will exchange gifts on January 6th, called Epiphany, which is when the three wise men arrived to greet the baby Jesus.
I love celebrating Christmas in Germany. When the Christmas markets are set up each year, it gets me in the holiday spirit right away! A lot of our Christmas traditions in the United States come from Germany, such as putting up a Christmas tree. This tradition comes from the 1500s, when devout (faithful) Christians would bring decorated trees into their houses. While Germany is credited with starting the tradition as we know it today, it’s a much older tradition of bringing evergreen plants into the home around the winter solstice to remind people that life continues in the winter and that spring will come again.
While children around the world write letters to Santa Claus telling him what they would like for Christmas, France has a rather unique (different/special) take on this tradition. Since 1962, there has been a law in place that any letter sent by a French child to Santa Claus, or Père Noël, must receive a postcard in return. That means that each child then receives a postcard from Santa Claus, which I’m sure is treasured (valued) by each child (although maybe not as much by the post workers that have to write them)!
佳节快乐! (jiā jié kuài lè!)
Christmas is actually a pretty popular holiday in China, even though only about 5% of the population are Christian. In comparison to many Western countries, Christmas is seen as a fun, commercial (only for buying things), national holiday in China, rather than a holiday with a religious background. If you’re giving a gift in China, it is polite to present (hand) it to the receiver with both hands, not just one. This is because if you use both hands to present the gift, you’re using your whole body to give it to them, and it is considered (seen as, taken to be) very polite.
Spain, like Italy, has a long Catholic tradition, and rather than receive gifts from Santa Claus, Spanish children receive gifts from the three wise men. And just like in Italy, they receive gifts on Epiphany, rather than Christmas Day. Additionally, there’s a Christmas lottery in Spain that most people in the country take part in. Known as El Gordo, or the fat one, the prize is more than two billion euros every year! How would that be for a Christmas gift?
In Portugal, which is also a strongly Catholic country, children write their letters to the baby Jesus, rather than Santa Claus. Families will attend midnight mass together, and also build a nativity scene under the Christmas tree together. In some regions (areas), communities will build a large bonfire together on Christmas Eve in a communal (shared, community) space. This allows them to all get together and wish each other a merry Christmas personally.
How do you celebrate Christmas in your family? How do you say happy holidays in your language? Do you know of other ways to say happy holiday in different languages? Share your favorite traditions with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves learning how to say happy holidays in different languages!