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See also: weihnachten



From Middle High German wīhenahten(Christmas), from a dative plural ze den wīhen nahten(in the holy nights). Compare modern weihen(to hallow) and Nacht. The oldest form (1170) is a singular diu wīhe naht (“the Holy Night”); the somewhat later plural is used to refer to the Christmas days and nights collectively. A relation with earlier heathen festivals is not endorsed by the etymological standard sources, though the possibility is admitted. Compare Weihnacht.


  • IPA(key): /ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaxtən/, [ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaχtən], [ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaχtn̩]
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Weihnachten n ‎(genitive Weihnachten or Weihnachtens, plural Weihnachten)

  1. Christmas
    Es ist Weihnachten.‎ ― It's Christmas.
    Frohe Weihnachten!‎ ― Merry Christmas!
    Wir wünschen Ihnen frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr!‎ ― (formal) We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Usage notes[edit]

  • Weihnachten is originally a plurale tantum. The plural is still invariably used in wishes: Frohe, gesegnete, schöne, ... Weihnachten! Otherwise the word is most often treated as a neuter singular: Weihnachten ist ein christliches Fest. (“Christmas is a Christian holiday.”) Particularly in Austria and Switzerland it may alternatively be plural, then requiring the definite article: Die Weihnachten sind ein christliches Fest. It can also be used as a true plural when referring to Christmases in different years: Die letzten drei Weihnachten war er krank. (“He was sick for the past three Christmases.”)


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