It’s common custom that in the months of November and December, especially in the USA, to find yourself being wished a ‘Merry Christmas’ or wishing someone else the same. Unfortunately, it seems that over the past few years with all of this “politically correct” non-sense and fear of offending someone’s nationality, we often hear the words, ‘Happy Holidays.’ However, did you know that ‘Happy Christmas’ was a common greeting of old?

Wishing someone a ‘Happy Christmas’ was a common event until it was replaced with the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ in 1534 when John Fisher (an English Catholic Bishop) first wrote it in a Christmas letter to Thomas Cromwell, saying, “And this, our Lord, God, send you a Merry Christmas and an agreeable New Year, to your deepest longing.” Thus, the holiday greeting, ‘Merry Christmas’ was born!

Likewise, the tune “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” which goes back to sixteenth century England, has a similar story. It originated from the West Country in England. During that time, in the English language, the expression ‘Rest You Merry’ didn’t mean just to be upbeat. ‘Rest’ signified “to keep, cause to proceed, to remain” and ‘happy’ signified, “charming, plentiful, prosperous”. So, if you are familiar with the famous Christmas song, you could compose the primary line as, “[May] God keep you and keep on making you effective and prosperous, Gentlemen,” yet that would be difficult to sing! It was shortened to ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ in 1760.

The term ‘Merry Christmas’ became mainstream in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole sent a Christmas card with the words, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You”.

We here at My Breyer Heart and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Safe and Wonderful New Year!