24 Dec VAT: Happy Christmas
The common seasonal greetings of merry Christmas and happy New year seem odd as the adjectives merry and happy are incongruous with the occasions with which they are linked.
Happy is joyous and merry is tipsy, slightly drunk. Christmas, a joyous time with friends and family, would seem a better fit with happy, as in happy Christmas, than with merry. New Year, often celebrated with some strangers who don’t feel like strangers as they are drinking with us, would seem a better fit with merry, as in merry New Year, than with happy.
Maybe we say merry Christmas as we would like to have some drinks on Christmas to make it a bit more merry than just another night of friends and family. Maybe on New Year’s eve we want to feel there is real happiness, though it’s only drinking with strangers.