I was wondering how can we wish people today a "Merry Christmas" in Latin?

I figured one could say

felicem natalem Christi

but it's not a literal translation or could be interpreted differently.

2 Answers 2


Pope Francis uses nativitas for Christmas is his Latin tweets, so I would suggest something simple like:

Felicem Nativitatem Habe / Habete

If you don't want to include the imperative, you could drop habe so you're simply making a statement. You could also something more like the Romans did with Saturnalia:

io Felix Nativitas!

  • 1
    Hopefully someone will let me know if my declensions are wrong. :)
    – Adam
    Dec 24, 2021 at 20:08
  • The interjection io! isn't a generic celebratory interjection, but is strictly associated with the Sāturnālia. While there are many pre-Christian elements in Christmas, introducing new/old 'pagan' elements into Christmas intentionally would be an ideological move. Jan 21, 2022 at 18:51

The closest actual Latin equivalent would be something like

frui saturnalia

which (some people argue) is the ancient roman festivities that later evolved into what is today christmas.

You could argue that most people wouldn't understand the reference, but then again most people don't understand Latin, and those who do, probably will.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! Can you edit your answer to elaborate on what this means more literally and where you found it? This is not the typical Saturnalia greeting I've seen.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 25, 2021 at 9:02
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    Even if Saturnalia eventually evolved into Christmas, it is still a different holiday, so I'm not sure this is such a good fit. Dec 25, 2021 at 10:43
  • @SebastianKoppehel: god Jul!
    – Quassnoi
    Dec 26, 2021 at 0:46
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    I had learned in latin class (a long time ago), about the historical link between the modern Christmas celebration and the Roman Saturnalia holiday. io saturnalia was the phrase my teacher used in class.
    – selbie
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:05
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    I'm afraid this reply is incorrect. fruī means "to make use of, enjoy" and isn't used in wishes; you put it in the infinitive, which isn't used in wishes - you need the 2p. imperative fruere; this verb commands its object in the ablative, so sāturnāliīs. Finally, as others have mentioned, the Sāturnaliā is a different holiday from Christmas and belongs to a different religion. It's never used to refer to the birth of Christ, and will be considered sacrilegious. Jan 21, 2022 at 18:44

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