Merry Christmas in Languages Across the World by Elizabeth Vanderwater

I am an eclectic collector. One of my most prized collections, which continues to grow each year, is that of my collection of “Merry Christmas” in different languages throughout the world. I started collecting these about six years ago when a number of my students had roots from different countries, namely Greece and Hungary. So, in addition to the French, German, Italian and English languages with which I was familiar, I now had the spelling and expressions for “Merry Christmas” for Greece and Hungary. About two years ago, I added Merry Christmas in the languages spoken in Bulgaria and Macedonia, as one of my students had roots in those countries. This most recent Christmas was an incredible year!

To coincide with my Traveling Teddy Bears project, I created a bulletin board that had twenty-three teddy bears (paper), each holding a flag from a different country. These bears were placed around a map of the world that had pin-pointed destinations that our bears had traveled to (we had received postcards from these destinations). Included, with each of the flags were the words, “Merry Christmas” in the language spoken from that country. This year I was able to add: Yugoslavia and Ireland (we have two staff members who have roots there), Belgium (one of the teddy bears was reported to be in Belgium), United Kingdom and England (one of my students had stated having had roots in England), Japan and South Korea, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, and Afghanistan (one of my students has roots there). What I noticed about the students as they arrived each day, was that they would approach the bulletin board and look for the most recent addition of flags and “Merry Christmas” in the language spoken in that country. Also, during the day when they had completed their work, they would often be seen drawing and colouring one of the flags from the bulletin board.

Additionally, over the course of a week, the students practiced saying, “Merry Christmas” in a language of their choice. In total, there were twenty-three different flags, with sixteen different languages spoken. Students presented, “Merry Christmas” in these languages to our Principal and Vice-Principal. It was incredible the enthusiasm I received from the students to speak those wonderful words! There were many volunteers to speak even the most difficult of these languages.

My Grade 3s ended off their school year with: singing “Silent Night” in two languages: English (one verse) and German (one verse), “O Christmas Tree” in three languages: English (one verse), French (one verse) and German (one verse); and finally presenting their wishes of “Merry Christmas” from different countries to the student body during two of our caroling assemblies. They were so proud!

What I experienced from the students was a sense of wonder and excitement about the world, the different countries, their flags and the different languages that they were able to hear and speak.

This Christmas we were able to enjoy some of the world’s diversity without having left the classroom. I feel that my students will take these memories with them, wherever they go…

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22 Replies to “Merry Christmas in Languages Across the World by Elizabeth Vanderwater”

  1. Hello Elizabeth,
    I am from Trinidad and I was so touched by reading your e-mail that I am now inspired to do the same with my class. You see many West Indian children have no connection with the outside world, therefore it’s a good idea for them to have the exposure of different cultures. Could you please assist by sending me some of these greetings? Thanking you for yours assistance and your inspiration.

    Your partner in Education,
    Jonelle

  2. I read your website and was soo interested in your bulletin board. I did one similiar to yours but unfortunately I could not all the languages for “Merry Christmas”. I would love it if you could please send me a copy of your bulletin board as well as the different greetings from the different countries. I would truely appreciate your help. I would love to incorporate this into my ESL classroom for Christmas! Looking forward to your response
    Sincerely, Nadine Dove

  3. I’m looking for simple ways to say say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas in different languages. We have a few weeks to memorize them and the children are in the first grade. CAn you help?

    We have children who are Armenian, Indian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English, and African.

    Thanks!

  4. Dear Jonelle,

    Thank you for your online note. It has been a long time since I accessed this multi-lingual aspect of my TeddyBearsOnTheGo(TM) project. Once I get back to school, I will search for the material and forward same to you as soon as I can.

    Yours in teaching,

    Liz

  5. Dear Nadine,

    It is hard to believe that this is the 5th year of my Teddy Bears On The Go(TM) project! I know that this tardy reply does not help you currently, but it can help for years to follow.

    When I return to school, I will locate the information and get it to you.

    Yours in teaching,

    Liz

  6. Dear Patty,

    Thank you for your online request for saying Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays in a variety of languages.

    Since it has been a long time since I reviewed this multi-lingual aspect of my Teddy Bears On The Go(TM) project, I did not view this website until after Christmas.

    This is what I have, without the benefit of my files at school:

    Merry Christmas in French: Joyeux Noel (the ‘o’ in Noel has 2 dots over it)
    Spanish: Felix Navidad

    I will get the information early in the year, and forward same to you.

    Yours in teaching,

    Liz

  7. Dear Caleb,

    Thank you for your online request. I will have to do some further investigations about spelling Merry Christmas in Chinese. That was not one of the languages that I had in my collection.

    Yours in teaching,

    Liz

  8. Dear Jonathan,

    Thank you for your online request. I will do some further investigations about saying Merry Christmas in Jamaican.

    Yours in teaching,

    Liz

  9. As a Jamaican, with a university degree, completing another degree here in Canada, and an ex- teacher from Jamaica, now teaching here in Canada, please let me add that ‘Jamaican’ is not a language – you need to do some homework in this area!

    We say “Merry Christmas” just like you do here in Canada and in England -where I also went to school! The national language is English, however, at times, depending on whom you speak with, it is spoken with a dialect or an accent.

    I hope this qualifies me to answer this question accurately!

    Merry Christmas’ and Happy New Year!

    C. Ruddock

  10. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, C. Ruddock,

    And thank you so much for clarifying that for the respondant, Jonathan.

    I had a feeling that there were no differences regarding the expression, Merry Christmas, but I was responding to his request, regardless.

    Wishing you a prosperous New Year.

    Liz

  11. Hi Liz,

    I found your article quite interesting and inspired me alot. By the way, the Chinese saying of Merry Christmas is : “Sing Daan Faai Lok”

    Though Christmas has already gone, hope you find it useful!

    Have a good day!
    Flora

  12. Hi Flora,

    Thank you so much for the translation of Merry Christmas in Chinese. I will add that to my collection.

    Wishing you a great day!

    Liz

  13. dear Elizabeth

    just wondering … a lot of people (wrongly) think our language is French, in Belgium, so I was just wondering which Merry Christmas you were given as the ‘Belgian’ one as there is no Belgian language… and we do not only speak French over here.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

    Chris
    Antwerp -Belgium

  14. Hello everyone,

    And thank you for your comments and help with various translations of Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.

    I have assembled a collection of translations into chart form at the link below. If you feel that there are some missing entries, please feel free to email me using the contact us form on the website.

    I have included the link below for your reference:

    http://www.teddybearsonthego.com/html/merry_christmas_translations.html

    If the link does not work, just copy and paste it into the URL address bar at the top of your browser.

    Thanks again.
    Liz

  15. Hi again,

    I just checked out the link and it seems to work.

    However, in the event that it doesn’t, just make sure that when you are entering the link information into the address bar of your browser that you include the underscore line ( _ ) between the words merry and christmas and christmas and translations.

    Enjoy!
    Liz

  16. Hi everyone,

    I thought that I had left a post here sometime last week, but something must have happened to it.

    In response to your questions about Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays in the various languages, I have compiled the information on a recently created website for teddy bears.

    Here is the link for the main website:

    http://www.teddybearsonthego.com

    I will post the full URL later.

    Thanks.
    Liz

  17. Hello again, everyone!

    Just to confirm the URL for the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays in various languages around the world, please see the link below:

    http://www.teddybearsonthego.com/html/merry_christmas_translations.html

    Either click on the link above or copy and paste the entire link into the address bar of your browser.

    Please note that there are underscores between the words “merry” and “christmas” and between “christmas” and “translations”.

    Thanks.
    Liz

  18. Hi everyone,

    Just checking back to make sure that the link to Merry Christmas translations Date of post: April 22, 2007) is alive and well.

    I just checked it out again, and it appears to be working.

    Wishing you a wonderul fall.

    Cheers and thanks again for your continued support,
    Liz

  19. I am working on a XMas program with my grade 3. How did you figure out how to say all those other languages? I can’t seem to find help with that all I could learn correct pronunciation for were Spanish and Russian.

  20. Hi All,

    Just to keep you up to date about Merry Christmas in different languages around the world, I am creating this post.

    To Elizabeth: the correct pronunciation of the words came from my own experience with language. For the languages that I could not speak well, I had the students say them to me at which point, I would print it out phonetically.

    The above link to the translation page on my website is no longer active as the website has been redone.

    Here are a coupld of sites that I found on the web:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/say-merry-christmas-in-different–languages This site has a YouTube video where you can hear how it sounds in different languages.

    http://www.santas.net/howmerrychristmasissaid.htm

    Cheers,
    Liz V.

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