LearnChinesewith Us!Start Learning!
It’s that time of year again, when “Jingle Bells” is playing non-stop, shopping malls have decked their halls, and “Christmas Old Man” (圣诞老人 – shèng dàn lǎo rén) can be seen all across the Middle Kingdom. Although most people in China don’t celebrate Christmas in the religious sense of the word, they sure love the discounts in the stores and gladly take the excuse for a celebration. The holiday is more and more popular, especially amongst young people – probably thanks to their English teachers and the amount of Western media they consume. With all this Christmas cheer around, don’t be a Scrooge – learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in Chinese!
Let’s break that phrase down to better understand it:
The Chinese word for Christmas is 圣诞节 (shèng dàn jié). Let’s see what the characters mean individually to better help you understand the word:
So, all together the word for Christmas means “the birth of a saint holiday.” Despite the name of the holiday, you’d be surprised at how many people in China still don’t know the reason for the season.
In Chinese, an easy way to wish someone a “happy” or “merry” holiday is simply to add the word 快乐 (kuài lè). Unlike in English, where we’d say “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas,” the word for “happy/merry” comes after the name of the holiday when you say it in Chinese.
It’s common to shorten words in Chinese, and the phrase “Merry Christmas” is no different. You can drop the character 节 and just say this:
Either way you say it, people will understand what you’re going for and will most likely reciprocate with a Christmas greeting of their own.
Saying it is fun and all, but at this point you might as well learn how to sing it in Chinese:
Check this past post for more on Christmas in China and some useful holiday vocabulary, and be sure to check the blog on Christmas for a very special video present from us to you.