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Here’s How To Say Merry Christmas in 11 Different Languages…and Pronounce It Correctly!

November 10, 2022
Gabriel WynerGabriel Wyner

Want to better connect with your multinational friends this year? Here’s how to say Merry Christmas in different languages, along with other festive greetings. We’ll cover pronunciation too!  

The holidays are coming around, and with them a flurry of travel dates, guests, hosting, visiting, and gift giving. All these activities provide meaningful opportunities to connect to the people that we love. 

Learning to say Merry Christmas in other languages too is ultimately about connection. Greeting someone in their native language could be the perfect opportunity to express care at this special time of year. 

And if you do it right – memorizing not just the words, but how to say them correctly – you’ll find that gesture lands in a way that truly connects you to those around you.

Here’s how to say Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays) in 11 different languages:

Tip: You can learn each of these languages with our groundbreaking Fluent Forever app. Download it here!

Spanish – ¡Feliz Navidad! 

Phonetic transcription: [feˈlið naβiˈðað] (Spain)  – [feˈlis naβiˈðað] (Latin America)

Recording

If you’re learning this to connect with a Spanish speaking person, you’ll want to think for a moment about whether they’re from Spain or Latin America. 

The “z” at the end of feliz is pronounced as “s” [s] in Latin America, and as “th” [θ] in Spain.

Other Spanish holiday greetings:

To learn more about Spanish basics, check out our big ol’ guide.

 

French – Joyeux Noël!

Phonetic transcription: [ʒwa.jø nɔ.ɛl]

Recording

French requires you to really put in some effort into the pronunciation. 

Parisians get a bad reputation for rudeness not necessarily because they’re rude. They actually have no idea what Americans are saying when they stumble through their bawn-JOORS and joy-USE know-ELLs. 

Additional French greetings:

To get that perfect accent, check out our French pronunciation YouTube seriesAnd to know more about this fascinating language, read our comprehensive guide to learning French.

 

Italian – Buon Natale!

Phonetic transcription: [ˈbwɔn naˈtaːle]

Recording

Italian is a super-forgiving sound system with one of the most easily readable spelling systems in the world…which is exactly where you need to be careful. 

There are 5 vowels in Buon Natale to pay attention to, and if you’re not saying each and every one, you won’t be understood. 

Other Italian greetings:

Discover the language basics in our guide to the best way to learn Italian.

 

Portuguese – Feliz Natal!

Phonetic transcription: [feˈliʒ naˈtaw]

Recording

Like Spanish, be careful about picking the right dialect here. Whoever you’re greeting is either speaking Portuguese from Brazil or Portuguese from Portugal, which don’t sound the same.

Cool fact about Brazilian Christmas traditions: kids leave a sock near a window, with the idea that Papai Noel (Santa) will exchange presents for socks. 

More Portuguese greetings:

We cover all the Portuguese basics in our expert tips here.

 

German – Frohe Weihnachten!

Phonetic transcription: [ˈfroːə ˈvaɪ̯naxtn̩]

Recording

Weihnachten has a pile of challenging consonants in a row that really take some work to get right!

Germany and Austria have a pretty awesome tradition of Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas markets. Local artisans get together in little huts and sell really cool stuff while you wander around enjoying mulled wine. 

German festive greetings:

Learn all about the best way to master German in our language guide here.

 

Dutch – Vrolijk Kerstfeest!

Phonetic transcription: [ˈvroːˌlək kɛrstfeːst]

Recording

This one’s not too rough. It’s the first long vowel [oː] and the last one [eː] that will give English speakers the most trouble, so focus on those and you should be golden!

Dutch kids get presents from two different sources. On December 5, Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) comes up from Spain to deliver gifts, followed by Kerstman (Santa) from Lapland (the north of Finland) on Christmas Eve. 

 

Saint Nicholas figure

Sinterklaas, the extra-religious-looking gift giver of early December.                                                                      Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay


More Dutch greetings:

Want to become fluent in Dutch? Look no further than these 7 effective language learning tips.

 

Russian – С Рождеством! (S Rozhdestvom!)

Phonetic transcription: [s‿rəʐdʲɪˈstvom]

Recording

Russian is of comparable difficulty to German and French in terms of the sounds in this phrase, so you’ll want to devote some time and effort. 

Russian Christmas is actually on January 7th, based on the Julian calendar.

Other Russian greetings:

Did you know you can learn Russian fast? Find out how here.

 

Korean – 메리 크리스마스 (Meli Keuliseumaseu!)

Phonetic transcription: [meɾi k͈ɯɾisɯmasɯ]

Recording

Oddly enough, the Korean alphabet is likely the easiest alphabet ever built and can be learned in a few hours. But the sounds are so, so challenging. 

메리 크리스마스 is the most common phrase thrown around at Christmas time. It’s actually pretty easy as Korean goes, as it’s just trying to mimic sounds from English. 

If you want to step up the difficulty some, try:

크리스마스 잘 보내세요 – keuriseumaseu jal bonaeseyo (“Have a good Christmas!”)

Recording

Other Korean greetings:

Check out our 13 tried-and-tested tips for learning Korean quickly.

 

Japanese – メリークリスマス! (Merīkurisumasu!)

Phonetic transcription: [meɾiː kɯ̥ɾisɯ̥masɯ̥]

Recording

Japanese is the flip of Korean: a pretty easy pronunciation system and a very difficult alphabet. It’s fun to memorize, though, using cute little mnemonics:

 

illustration of sheep mnemonic for Japanese

ひ [hi] as in ひつじ [hitsudʒi] (sheep)


For “Merry Christmas,” just make sure you get the right “r” sound (it’s halfway between “r” and “d”) and that extra-long [i] (“eee”) sound in “Merī.”

More Japanese greetings:

We also wrote a thorough guide to help you learn the language – follow all our tips here.

 

Mandarin Chinese – 圣诞节快乐! (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè!)

Phonetic transcription: [ʂəŋ4 tæn4 tɕeː2 kʰʷai4 lɤː4]

Recording

The tonal language of Mandarin is a medium-degree challenge in terms of sounds, and a pretty high degree of challenge to get the tones right. 

If you can pull off a couple of good tones for this phrase (it’s just tone 2 and tone 4), you’ll really impress.

Christmas as a religious holiday doesn’t really exist in mainland China. It’s more of a commercial, light-hearted event like Valentine’s Day. 

Other Mandarin Chinese greetings:

Grasp the language basics with our guide to learning Chinese fast.

 

Hebrew: !חג מולד שמח‎ (khag molad sameakh)

Phonetic transcription: [xag moˈlad saˈmeax]

Recording

If you’re greeting someone in Hebrew, they’re likely not celebrating Christmas. 

If you want to pick the closest holiday, it’s Chanukkah. So you may want to jump for “Happy Channukah” instead, or חנוכה שמח – chanukkah sameach. 

The dates of this 8-day long festival range from the end of November towards the end of December. 

Additional Hebrew greetings:

Here are 5 proven tips to help you master the Hebrew basics fast.

 

Other languages

For other languages not on this list, I love this giant compendium of greetings. And to really get them down, use Forvo for recordings.

 

Final thoughts

And that’s how you say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays in 11 different languages!

This holiday season, why not give the gift of fluency in a new language? Our cutting-edge app, and the even more effective app+Coaching system, can help get you or a loved one to fluency in less than a year. 

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