Wow Your Guests: “Merry Christmas” In 10 Different Languages

21 December 2017

While Christmas is a time to get together with family, in a country such as Australia that’s not always possible for a fair percentage of the population. Many people who live here will spend Christmas apart from their families overseas. Thankfully, including Christmas “orphans” in your traditional Christmas Day celebrations is fast becoming a tradition in itself. How can you make your guests feel even more welcome? By wishing them “Merry Christmas” in their mother tongue.

Feliz Navidad

A colourful Christmas shrine in Mexico. A colourful Christmas shrine in Mexico. Image: Getty

If you know your popular Christmas carols from 1970 or just happen to be a big fan of Jose Feliciano, you’ll be aware that “Feliz Navidad” means “Merry Christmas” in Spanish. So if you have anyone visiting from Mexico, Spain, South America (with the exception of Brazil) or any other Spanish speaking country, “Feliz Navidad” will make them feel right at home. Just try not to sing it.

Feliz Natal

Rio de Janeiro christmas tree in lights Those cariocas love their razzle dazzle... Christmas in Rio de Janeiro. Image: Getty

While we’re on the subject of Brazil, best brush up on the Portuguese version of “Merry Christmas” given so many Brazilians now call Australia home. “Feliz Natal” (pronounced felliz nuh-tarl) is pretty easy to say but if you have Brazilian friends, you’ll know they’re probably the most easygoing people on the planet so if you don’t quite say your Christmas greeting right – they’re not going to mind.

Sheng Dan Kuai Le

people wearing christmas antlers The Christmas spirit takes hold in Hong Kong. Image: Getty

“Merry Christmas” in Mandarin (pronounced shuung dahn kwhy luh) is pretty much a must-have phrase to have up your sleeve at this time of year given that in the 2016 Australian Census, Mandarin was recorded as the second most-spoken language in the country, after English.

Seng Dan Fai Lok

Similar, but definitely not the same. “Seng dan fai lok” is “Merry Christmas” in Cantonese.

Eid Milad Saeid

Christmas tree in Dubai with the Burj al Arab behind. The Burj al Arab is the backdrop for Christmas in Dubai. Image: Getty

In Arabic, this literally means “celebration of birth happy” and because of the time of year, everyone knows whose birth we’re talking about here. Eid milad saeid!

Buon Natale

Christmastime at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Christmastime at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Image: Getty

Christmas is big in Italy. Huge. So if your round table includes Italian-speaking guests, brush up on your “Buon Natale” and whatever you do – don’t forget the panettone!

Frohliche Weihnachten

Christmas markets in Germany Markets are a key part of Christmas in Germany, like this one in Frankfurt. Image: Getty

Did we say that Christmas was big in Italy? It’s even bigger in Germany. All those fir trees, all that snow... Chances are, if you have a German guest in your house at Christmastime they’ll be experiencing a slight longing for mulled wine and almond spritz cookies. Bust them out of any homesickness with some super succulent king prawns and a chilled Australian sauvignon blanc. OK, a Kiwi sauv-blanc would work wonders too.

Joyeux Noel

The Galeries Lafayette in Paris decorated for Christmas. The Galeries Lafayette in Paris is a store that knows how to get festive. Image: Getty

Oui, Merry Christmas in French. By the way, if you haven’t seen the 2005 German Film “Joyeux Noel”, track it down. Very moving, very beautiful, and the perfect way to bring everyone together after a big lunch and an exhausting time out on the inflatable rainbow unicorns in the pool.

Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Christmas at the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam. Christmas at the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam. Image: Getty

If you have a Dutch friend at your family barbecue on Christmas Day, bear in mind that their gift-giving has been and gone, all the way back on December 5th. This is when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) brings presents. According to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas lives in Madrid and chooses a different Dutch harbour to arrive in every year. Best if your Dutch friend explains it to you.

Mele Kalikimaka

palm trees with christmas lights Kahului, Maui, turns on the lights for Christmas. Image: Getty

Sound familiar? That’s because “Mele Kalikimaka” is a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song written in 1949 and recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Of course, it’s also how you say “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian, so if you’re hosting any guests from America’s Aloha State this Christmas, consider that Bing has already prepped you for making them feel right at home.


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Erin Bennion

Based in Brisbane, Erin is a writer with a penchant for using fancy old French words wherever possible and an insatiable hankering for trawling through vintage markets in small Scandinavian towns (no really). One of her dreams is to take her family to see General Sherman in Sequoia National Park and give that old guy a group-hug. Don’t follow her, she could end up anywhere. Twitter @erinbennion