How to Say Merry Christmas in German

Learn German holiday greetings and phrases

Christmas in Germany
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Whether you're celebrating Christmas in a German-speaking country or you want to bring a few old-world traditions home, these German phrases and traditions will make your holiday truly authentic. The first two sections below contain general German Christmas and New Year's greetings followed by the English translations. The subsequent sections are grouped alphabetically, with the English word or phrase printed first, followed by the German translations.

German nouns always start with a capital letter, unlike English, where only proper nouns or nouns that begin a sentence are capitalized. German nouns are also generally preceded by an article, such as die or der, which means "the" in English. So, study the tables, and you'll be saying Fröhliche Weihnachten!—Merry Christmas—as well as many other German holiday greetings in no time.

German Christmas Greetings

German Greeting

English Translation

Ich wünsche

I wish

Wir wünschen

We wish




You all


You, formal

deiner Familie

Your family

Ein frohes Fest!

A joyous holiday!

Frohe Festtage!

Season's Greetings! / Happy Holidays!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Merry Christmas!

Frohes Weihnachtsfest!

[A] joyous Christmas celebration!

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Merry Christmas!

Ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest!

A blessed / joyous Christmas!

Gesegnete Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr!

A blessed Christmas and a happy new year!

Herzliche Weihnachtsgrüße!

Best Christmas greetings!

Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuen Jahr!

A joyful Christmas (festival) and best wishes for the new year!

Zum Weihnachtsfest 

besinnliche Stunden!

[We wish you] Contemplative / reflective hours during the Christmas celebration!

Ein frohes und besinnliches Weihnachtsfest!

A merry and reflective / thoughtful Christmas!

German New Year’s Greetings

German Saying

English Translation

Alles Gute zum neuen Jahr!

Best wishes for the new year!

Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

A good start in the new year!

Prosit Neujahr!

Happy New Year!

Ein glückliches neues Jahr!

Happy New Year!

Glück und Erfolg im neuen Jahr!

Good fortune and success in the new year!

Zum neuen Jahr Gesundheit, Glück und viel Erfolg!

Health, happiness, and much success in the new year!

Advent to Baumkuchen

Advent (Latin for "arrival, coming") is the four-week period leading up to Christmas. In German-speaking countries and most of Europe, the first Advent weekend is the traditional beginning of the Christmas season when open-air Christmas markets—Christkindlmärkte—appear in many cities, the most famous ones being in Nuremberg and Vienna.

Baumkuchen, listed below, is a "tree cake," a layered cake whose interior resembles tree rings when cut.

English Word of Phrase

German Translation

Advent calendar(s)


Advent season


Advent wreath



der Engel

Basel chocolate balls

Basler Brunsli


der Baumkuchen

Candles to Crèche (Manger)

Candles, with their light and warmth, have long been used in German winter celebrations as symbols of the sun in the dark of winter. Christians later adopted candles as their own symbols of the "Light of the World." Candles also play an important role in Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish "Festival of Lights."

English Word or Phrase

German Translation

Carol(s), Christmas carol(s): 

Weihnachtslied (-er)


der Karpfen


der Schornstein


der Chor

Crèche, manger

die Krippe

Christmas to Crescent

Christ Child translates into German as das Christkind or das Christkindl. The moniker "Kris Kringle" is actually a corruption of Christkindl.

The word came into American English via the Pennsylvania Germans, whose neighbors misunderstood the German word for the bringer of gifts. With the passage of time, Santa Claus (from Dutch Sinterclaas) and Kris Kringle became synonymous. The Austrian town of Christkindl bei Steyr is a popular Christmas post office, an Austrian "North Pole."

English Word or Phrase

German Translation


das Weihnachten, das Weihnachtsfest

Christmas bread/cake, fruit cake

der Stollen, der Christstollen, der Striezel

Christmas card(s)


Christmas Eve


Christmas market(s)

Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt

Christmas pyramid

die Weihnachtspyramide

Christmas tree

der Christbaum, der Tannenbaum, der Weihnachtsbaum

Cinnamon star(s)

Zimtstern: Star-shaped, cinnamon-flavored Christmastime cookies


Kekse, Kipferln, Plätzchen




Krippe, Kripplein



Father Christmas to Glass Ball

In the 16th century, Protestants, led by Martin Luther, introduced "Father Christmas" to replace Saint Nicholas and to avoid the Catholic saints. In the Protestant parts of Germany and Switzerland, Saint Nicholas became der Weihnachtsmann ("Christmas Man"). In the U.S., he came to be known as Santa Claus, while in England children look forward to a visit from Father Christmas.

English Word of Phrase

German Translation

Father Christmas (Santa Claus)

der Weihnachtsmann: 

Fir tree

der Tannenbaum (-bäume)

Fruit bread (Christmas bread)

der Stollen, das Kletzenbrot


die Girlande


das Geschenk

Gift giving

die Bescherung


der Lebkuchen

Glass ball

die Glaskugel

Holly to Ring 

In pagan times, holly—die Stechpalme—was believed to have magical powers that kept evil spirits away. Christians later made it a symbol of Christ's crown of thorns. According to legend, the holly berries were originally white but turned red from Christ's blood.

English Word or Phrase

German Translation


die Stechpalme


der König

Three Kings (Wise Men)

die Heiligen Drei Könige, die Weisen


das Kipferl: An Austrian Christmas cookie. 


die Beleuchtung

Outdoor lighting

die Außenbeleuchtung


die Lichter


das Marzipan (almond paste candy)

Midnight mass 

die Christmette, Mitternachtsmette


die Mistel

Mulled, spiced wine

der Glühwein ("glow wine")


die Myrrhe


die Krippe, Krippenbild, die Geburt Christi


die Nuss (Nüsse)


der Nussknacker

Organ, pipe organ

die Orgel

Ornaments, ornamentation 

die Verzierung, der Schmuck


die Poinsettie, der Weihnachtsstern


das Rentier 

Ring (bells)

erklingen, klingeln

Saint Nicholas to Wreath

Saint Nicholas is not Santa Claus or the American "Saint Nick." Dec. 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, is the day upon which the original Bishop Nicholas of Myra (now in Turkey) is commemorated and is the date of his death in the year 343. He was later granted sainthood. The German Sankt Nikolaus, dressed as a bishop, brings gifts on that day.

According to legend, it was also Bishop Nicholas who created the Christmas tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace. The kindly bishop is said to have thrown bags of gold for the poor down the chimney. The bags landed in stockings that had been hung by the fire to dry. This Saint Nicholas legend may also partly explain the American custom of Santa coming down the chimney with his bag of gifts.

English Word or Phrase

 German Translation

Saint Nicholas

der Sankt Nikolaus


das Schaf (-e)


der Hirt (-en), der Schäfer

Silent Night

Stille Nachte



Sled, sleigh, toboggan

der Schlitten

Snow (noun)

der Schnee

Snow (verb)

schneien (It's snowing - Es schneit)


der Schneeball


die Schneeflocke


der Schneemann

Snow sled/sleigh

der Schlitten



Snow covered 


Stable, stall

der Stall


der Stern

Straw star(s)

der Strohstern (Strohsterne): a traditional Christmas decoration made of straw.


das Lametta, der Flitter


das Spielzeug


der Kranz

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Your Citation
Flippo, Hyde. "How to Say Merry Christmas in German." ThoughtCo, Feb. 15, 2018, Flippo, Hyde. (2018, February 15). How to Say Merry Christmas in German. Retrieved from Flippo, Hyde. "How to Say Merry Christmas in German." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2018).