Merry Christmas! Tis the season to exchange greeting cards, wish clerks, acquaintances and practically all we meet with that cheerful greeting. For the first time that I can remember I began to wonder, “why Merry Christmas?” How did that come to be the phrase that symbolizes the celebration of this amazing season of remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Of course, I googled it. One of the websites states that the first recorded use of merry Christmas was written in 1534 in a letter from John Fisher to Thomas Cromwell in England. The word Merry originally meant pleasant, peaceful and agreeable. Somehow it has morphed through the years to have a more of a jovial meaning.
For all you history buffs, the phrase was used in the first commercial printed Christmas card as well as popularized in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol published in the same year (1843). Someone else, also questioning the phrase, considered the fact that happy is an emotional condition whereas merry is a behavior. Happy (which we use with all other holidays–Happy Easter, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays–developed from the word hap which had a connotation of luck to it. To be happy can depend on our situation, our circumstances or even our mood.
So what are we communicating when we wish someone a merry Christmas? I imagine it is like other things, we can use the phrase just as a filler, or a nice gesture or it can communicate a thoughtful message. The dictionary definition of merry is cheerful and lively. As I meander through these thoughts I realize I do wish my friends, family and readers a very merry Christmas. A Christmas celebration that is alive with the understanding of who we are celebrating! We are celebrating the birth of our Savior who came not only over 2000 years ago but came into my life to bring His joy and salvation to me. I do more than wish this, I pray it. I pray that as you celebrate this season, no matter how you do it, you will take the time to reflect on the fact that you have a Savior. He is there to rescue us from our sin, to show us the way to go when we do not know the way, to bring his unfathomable peace when there seems no way to it. God loved us soo much that He sent his only begotten son into our world to save us from our sins, and that is the good news we are trying to communicate when we say Merry Christmas. I need this Savior everyday, and by God’s grace and mercy I have one–and you can too. Just call on His name. He is there, ask him to forgive you for your sins (wrong doing) and to make you His child and He will. It takes faith (the ability to trust Him) to make this step, but it is so worth it.
I wish you all a very very Merry Christmas, one filled with His Joy, Grace and the lively awareness of His presence in your life. He is there, look for Him. Merry Christmas