Learn Popular Christmas and Holiday Expressions

Learn Popular Christmas and Holiday Expressions

Stacy Zeiger
by Stacy Zeiger 10,128 views

Not all countries celebrate Christmas, but if you're teacing your students English, it's important to teach them about the holidays celebrated in English-speaking countries. One of those holidays is Christmas. During the Christmas season, greetings very. Use this guide to teach your students all the different ways to say "merry Christmas" and "happy holidays."

Merry Christmas

The easiest greeting for the holiday season is merry Christmas, but this simple phrase has its share of controversy. Some people dislike the phrase because it doesn't take into account other holidays such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. It's acceptable when talking to Christians and those who you are sure celebrate Christmas day.

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays takes into account all of the special days that happen during the season. This greeting is the safest to use, but some people in America are offended by the use of the phrase because they feel like it downplays the importance of Christmas.

Season's Greetings

Similar to happy holidays, season's greetings recognizes all of the holidays that happen during the month of December. This greeting is more formal and typically found on Christmas cards or in holiday e-mails rather than said aloud.

'Tis the Season

During the month of December, you may see signs, ads, and other items that contain the phrase 'tis the season. This phrase suggests that the month of December is a time for joy, love, happiness, and more. For example, "'Tis the season to be jolly" or "'Tis the season to spread joy."

Christmas Comes But Once A Year

Yes, Christmas does come once a year, but this expression has a figurative meaning. Because Christmas only comes once a year, people should live it up, indulge in delicious treat, give lots of gifts, and enjoy the feeling of the season.

Trim the Tree

Trim the tree is an expression that describes decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments and lights.

Under the Mistletoe

If you find yourself under the mistletoe with someone during the holiday season, you are supposed to give that person a kiss. If it's just a friend, a peck on the cheek or the hand will do.

Get into the Christmas (or Holiday) Spirit

Getting into the Christmas spirit means taking time to enjoy the holiday. If someone tells you to get into the Christmas spirit, they want you to be joyful and spend time enjoying all of the activities and feelings surrounding the holiday.

Peace Be With You

Hope, joy, and peace are three of the most popular feelings referenced during the holiday season. When you tell someone "peace be with you," you want them to have a happy, peaceful holiday season. It's giving them good wishes.

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Christmas is a time to visit with loved ones and spend time together as a family. Many people who have moved away from home travel back to visit during the holiday season. The phrase "there's no place like home for the holidays" means that Christmas is all about spending time together and enjoying holiday traditions.

Bah, humbug!

If someone does not like Christmas or wants to be grumpy during the holidays, he or she may say "Bah, humbug." This phrase was popularized by Scrooge in Charles Dickens' popular story A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge or Grinch

Someone who dislikes Christmas or wants to make other people feel bad during the season is often referred to as a Scrooge or a Grinch.


One thing about the holidays is sure - if you like someone, don't get him or her a fruitcake! Although some countries make and enjoy fruitcake, in the United States, fruitcake symbolizes a bad Christmas gift and very few people enjoy receiving one.

Merry Christmas in Other Languages

Aside from English sayings, there are many ways to say "Merry Christmas" around the world.  How many do you know?

Afrikaans Gesí«ende Kersfees
Danish Glí¦delig Jul
Finnish Hyvää Joulua
French Joyeux Noel
German Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek Kala Christouyenna
Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka
Hindi Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Icelandic Gledileg Jol
Irish Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian Buon Natale 
Japanese Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Korean Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Norwegian God Jul
Polish Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese Feliz Natal
Russian Srozhdestovm Kristovim
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Swahili Kuwa na Krismasi njema
Thai Suksun Wan Christmas
Vietnamese Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh Nadolig Llawen



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