“Why do they say Happy Christmas instead of Merry Christmas?”
We had received a card from some English friends and our daughter was intrigued by the change in term. For the rest of us this is too nuanced to be considered. But to her it seemed important. Loving words the way I do, it was all the inspiration I needed.
So first, here are some definitions I found in Merriam Webster:
Happy: a. enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment- or b. having or marked by an atmosphere of good fellowship
Merry: marked by festivity or gaiety
At this point I had an issue. After a long autumn which culminated in Friday’s tragedy I have been feeling neither terribly content nor very festive. Perhaps I could live with the ‘good fellowship' part, but I wondered if there might be a word I could use to help me feel in the spirit of the holidays without dismissing the overwhelming grief which
I tried another word -
Joyful: a. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires- or b. a source or cause of delight
Nothing really resonated here either until I looked up the origin of the word: Middle English, from Anglo-French joie, from Latin gaudia, plural of gaudium, from gaudēre to rejoice; probably akin to Greek gēthein to rejoice.
And finally I had it… rejoice. Christmas this year could be a time for finding joy in in the prospect of possessing what I desire; that is, the conquering of evil by the birth of Jesus. It was a word for me that was filled with hope.
So while it may be little tricky to get onto my holiday cards… Rejoiceful Christmas… at least I will wish it with my whole heart.
A Rejoiceful Christmas to you and yours!
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