5

In the spirit of the holidays, I was thinking about how you would say Eat! Drink! Be Merry! in Latin (or written as Eat, drink, and be merry!).

There are multiple words for each, but I'm not sure which best captures the feeling of this in English. To me, it's not just to literally eat, drink, and be happy, it's to do them in a celebratory context with others (except this year, of course). I also feel like it could be said in second person plural in addition to singular.

Per Joonas's post about a word least likely to mean drinking alcohol, bibere or potare both would work for drinking. I also think that laeta seems an easy choice for merry. I'm not sure about eating, though.

1
  • I would implore you to look at other answers...
    – cmw
    Dec 31 '20 at 3:26
10

I would suggest simply: Ede, bibe, gaude! Or to several people: Edite, bibite, gaudete!

I prefer to keep something like this simple and avoid prefixed verbs or other unnecessary detours. I like making a holiday greeting as accessible as possible to everyone with a limited knowledge of Latin. For eating and drinking the simplest verbs are edere and bibere. There are various options for being merry. Laetare means "to make someone happy", whereas the passive laetari means "to be happy". There is no major difference between gaudere and laetari (if you want to study this further, I would be happy to see a comparison question between them), and I chose gaudere simply because it is active in form. This makes the three imperatives more similar and understandable.

5
  • Perfect! Exactly what I was looking for. Interestingly, I put it into Google Translate (as I expect that is what some of the audience might do) and Google returns Eat, Drink, rejoice!
    – Adam
    Dec 25 '20 at 14:54
  • 1
    @Adam That's great! This is one of the rare cases where we should care about Google Translate, as the less fluent readers will no doubt use it.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 25 '20 at 15:16
  • I upvoted your suggestion. What about comissare (carouse) instead of gaude? Love it that you guys were active here on Christmas Day.
    – Afer
    Jan 6 at 13:00
  • @Afer The verb comissari sounds more like a Bacchanal whereas gaudere is a more neutral form of joy. I wanted to wish a merry family Christmas without any hints of drunken chaos. This is yet another case where context and nuance makes a big difference. (At least here in Finland Christmas Day is not that special. The festive day is Christmas Eve. This is mostly due to the Lutheran tradition, I think.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 6 at 13:26
  • 1
    That is very laudable @Joonas. I like your thinking.
    – Afer
    Jan 6 at 14:24
7

This is from the Bible, Ecclesistes 8:15.

Therefore I commended mirth, because there was no good for a man under the sun, but to eat, and drink, and be merry, and that he should take nothing else with him of his labour in the days of his life, which God hath given him under the sun.

The Vulgate renders this thus:

laudavi igitur laetitiam quod non esset homini bonum sub sole nisi quod comederet et biberet atque gauderet et hoc solum secum auferret de labore suo in diebus vitae quos dedit ei Deus sub sole.

Unlike the English, which is presented as an imperative, this is a subjunctive.

In an imperative, but preserving other parts of the Vulgate

Comede et bibe atque gaude!

"Comedo" has a connotation of "devour" or "eat to excess", rather than the more neutral "edo"

2
  • 1
    Thanks! I suspect for some of us, we start our holiday celebrations at edo and end up at comedo. :)
    – Adam
    Dec 26 '20 at 0:58
  • I'd say it's more "feast" than "devour excessively." But also many prefixes are toothless, especially in vulgar Latin (and even places like Cicero's letters). That said, I'm glad you picked up on the Ecclesiastes quote.
    – cmw
    Dec 27 '20 at 5:43
6

As James K said, this is already in Latin. I would offer one thing, though: avoid the imperative. Whom are you ordering with the imperative? For these sorts of things, Latin prefers the jussive subjunctive:

Comedamus et bibamus atque gaudeamus.

Let us eat, drink, and be merry.

3

Adapting Horace's "nunc est bibendum" = "now one must drink", which was his exhortation to celebrate the fall of Antony & Cleopatra, in 30BC:

"nunc est edendum, bibendum et gaudendum." = "now one must eat, drink & rejoice".

For a full grammatical analysis of this use of the impersonal, neuter gerundive see Q: Nunc est bibendum: gerund or gerundive?.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.