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84

The city names you quote are all derived from Spanish, where "San" (or "Santo", as @tchrist clarifies below) is the male inflection and "Santa" the female one. However, Santa Claus isn't derived from Spanish, but from Dutch, where it was originally rendered as Sante Klaas, and was modified to Santa when it was adopted into English (and from English, to the ...


47

I am going to propose "Anteneoannusnoelojollification" Built from ante — Before neo — new annus — year noel — Christmas o — bridging vowel for word fluidity jollification — the act of jollifying, making happy. Making something merry at Christmas before the New Year. No citations until it makes it into the OED.


35

It is common in the US to use "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" as a more secular sentiment for this time of year (Wikipedia has a pretty good description of these). Also, "Happy New Year" by itself is quite common and not considered lame at all. Finally, I am not Christian, but I don't find it offensive when well-wishers offer me a "Merry ...


22

The name "Santa Claus" comes from a dialect of Dutch, where the word was "Sante Klaas". In this case, it was not a feminine suffix; the word evolved into Santa, which only coincidentally looks like the feminine form of saint in some languages. (The Dutch word does come from the same origins as the Spanish and Portuguese, incidentally; most Germanic ...


14

Looking at the definitions of merry and happy, I would suggest that merry implies more short-term jollity, and happy more long-term contentment. That would square well with the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year usage. The definitions of merry I found here and here, and for happy here and here. It might also be worth noting that merry is used in phrases ...


13

As others have mentioned, Christmas and New Year are proper nouns, and thus are capitalized. Generally the phrases "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" are used in greetings, as headings, or in some other isolated way, and thus "Happy" and "Merry" are the first word of the sentence, and thus those words are capitalized. Happy New Year! is a sentence ...


12

No method. The twelfth day is January 5th: 25-Dec 26-Dec 27-Dec 28-Dec 29-Dec 30-Dec 31-Dec 01-Jan 02-Jan 03-Jan 04-Jan 05-Jan January 6th is the day after the twelfth day of Christmas. I am not an expert on this subject, but this is from the Wikipedia page on Epiphany: Christian feast celebrating the appearance of Jesus Christ to the Magi ...


12

This isn’t a full answer, but some more pieces of the puzzle. Briefly: the OED supports the argument that the usage “twelfth night” = “Jan 6th” comes not from subtleties of ecclesiastical reckoning, but from a recent shift in meaning. According to the OED, the twelve days originally referred to the twelve days after Christmas, i.e. starting from the first ...


11

If you're looking for a greeting message for the new year, what's wrong with "Happy New Year?" I don't see anything lame about it. Anyway… Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings If you're reasonably certain the person you are addressing lives in a region where these holidays are widely celebrated, you can say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." ...


11

Wikipedia has the answer for you: "Christmas" is a compound word originating in the term "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "Messiah"; and mæsse is ...


10

This is a social propriety question and not a language question. But in that spirit, here's my answer: If you're a non-Christian and don't celebrate Christmas, or if the person you're speaking to does not celebrate Christmas, then just say "hello"! Why in the world do people look for a way to bring up a specific religious holiday without mentioning the ...


8

There's a difference between a complete, grammatically-correct sentence and a greeting. If I was writing a complete sentence, I would write "I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year." But if I was just greeting someone, I'd say, "Merry Christmas!", not "A Merry Christmas". It's like when you write a title or a headline, you often leave out words, ...


6

You don’t typically use a preposition there, but if you must, on is the correct one, because you are basically referring to a day, or a general time period within a day: on Wednesday (night) on (the night of) Christmas Eve At is definitely not correct, because generally we use at for times, not dates. In is technically correct as well, because “in ...


6

The word usage is wholly dependent upon what you are trying to say with the sentence. Note that the differences, while real, are also minor. Most readers would guess the reason for the gathering. The whole family got together at Christmas. This implies that the family got together around Christmas time, but does not suggest that Christmas was the ...


6

Originally, "Christmas Eve" meant the night before Christmas day. Today we count days from midnight to midnight. That is, we begin each new day at midnight. On the ancient Jewish calendar, the day went from sunset to sunset. That is, sunset marked the beginning of a new day. When Christians borrowed holidays from the Jews, they borrowed this idea of the ...


6

mer·ri·ment a state of enjoyable exuberance; playful fun noun /ˈmerēmənt/  Gaiety and fun - her eyes sparkled with merriment Happiness Hap"pi*ness, n. [From Happy.] 1. Good luck; good fortune; prosperity. - All happiness bechance to thee in Milan! Shak. Merriment is having some good fun, while happiness is a much broader term, ...


6

Merry is reserved (by whom?) for Christmas; Happy is for the New Year. This has been documented. meta: I feel it has also been mentioned here on ELU around Christmas last year. This? Non-word: noëlfun.


5

From Wikipedia: "Xmas" is a common abbreviation of the word "Christmas". It is sometimes pronounced /ˈɛksməs/, but it, and variants such as "Xtemass", originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation /ˈkrɪsməs/. The "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for "Mass", while the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which ...


5

The carol, by John Jacob Niles, was inspired by a tune he heard in Appalachia in the '30s, and was originally named "Appalachian Carol". "A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long ...


5

As this ngram shows, the term has very little usage in US print as compared to Santa Claus. There is a slight rise in usage over the years, but a quick scan of the listed works often refer to historic works or the British tradition. Most US listeners would probably understand a reference to Father Christmas, but most would probably consider it a bit ...


5

I agree completely with JAM's answer. However, there is one fundamental misunderstanding I see in your question: You are attempting to apply the standard rules of English grammar to a dialect which does not necessarily abide by all of them. Supposedly this song was transcribed by John Jacob Niles from a song sung by the daughter of an itinerant preacher in ...


4

Linked on from the Wikipedia page, The Telegraph says, But many people believe Twelfth Night falls on Jan 6, at the end of the 12th day after Christmas... The difference in opinion is said to be down to the fact that in centuries past, Christmas was deemed to start at sunset on Dec 24 and so the 12th night following it was Jan 5. ...


4

In the examples you make, there is no need to use any preposition. We can get together Wednesday night. Since there was nothing I could do, I wandered downtown the night of Christmas Eve. At least in American English, you can use a weekday as adverb, such as in the following sentences: We will try again Friday. (We will try again on Friday.) ...


4

"I hope you had a nice Christmas" or "I trust you had a nice Christmas" would both suffice. The latter might sound a bit overly-formal to some ears, but if it's a business contact you don't know outside of business that's not necessarily a bad thing. Much is made in some quarters about whether it is better to refer to Christmas or the holidays generally, ...


3

In American English, Noel is defined as Christmas. [This word is used in Christmas songs and on cards] In ordinary speech, it can be used as a synonym for Christmas, but would be considered a bit poetic. It is not very commonly used outside of the context of carols, cards and decorative uses (signs, headlines, ornaments). Note that, while the ...


3

It depends on what you're trying to say (as noted by others). "On": refers to that day: "We got together on Christmas for dinner and a gift exchange." "We went to a movie on Christmas because everything else was closed." "For": refers to purpose: "We got together for Christmas" implies that Christmas was the reason (versus the movie example above). ...


3

Apparently, snow goblins have long been a perennial problem stretching to the very North Pole itself, which some have posited may be their ultimate origin. You can see them in full havocking mayhem in the top half of this familiar illustration: That illustration was created by an eldritch enthnographer of great renown. In the cited source we learn that. ...


2

Is the 25th of December the 'first day' of Christmas, or the 'zeroth' day? According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_days_of_Christmas Boxing Day, or the 26th, is considered the 'first full day' - so that would place the twelfth night on the 5th of January, but the twelfth day would be the 6th. I wonder if this is at all related to the idea of the ...


2

I live in the US, and I have heard "Santy" from an aunt of mine. She was born in the US as well. ..... added ........ The Oxford English Dictionary, in the entry "Santa Claus" has 6 quotations with "Santy", starting from 1925. And some of those are American: Dreiser, Faulkner, etc.


2

You can check the following links for references. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas [('Saint Nicholas') is a traditional winter holiday figure celebrated in various regions of Europe, including: the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, some parts of Germany and Austria, (Sankt Nikolaus); Switzerland (Samichlaus), Italy (San Nicola in Bari, South ...



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