Weihnachten

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See also: weihnachten

German[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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.

The term is a cognate with Czech Vánoce and Slovak Vianoce.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaxtən/, [ˈväɪ̯ˌnäχtən], [ˈʋäɪ̯-], [-ˌnäχtn̩]
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

Weihnachten n (strong, genitive Weihnachten or Weihnachtens, plural Weihnachten)

  1. (often in the plural, see usage notes) Christmas
    Es ist Weihnachten.It's Christmas.
    Wir wünschen Ihnen frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr!(formal) We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    • 2016, Miriam Malik, Ein Drache zu Weihnachten und andere Weihnachtsgeschichten, story Ein Löwe zu Weihnachten:
      Drei Weihnachten, zwei Ostern und Fasching sowie unzählige Kindergeburtstage hatte ich bereits überstanden.
      I already endured three Christmases, two Easters and carnival as well as countless child's birthdays.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In German-speaking countries, Weihnachten includes the 25th as well as the 26th of December and usually also the evening of the 24th (from circa 6 p.m.). The inclusion of the morning and afternoon of the 24th is informal and sometimes frowned upon.
  • Weihnachten is originally a plurale tantum with the singular meaning Christmas. This 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, the plurale tantum may alternatively be used, then requiring the definite article: Die Weihnachten sind ein christliches Fest. The neuter singular also has a true plural referring to Christmases in different years: Die letzten drei Weihnachten war er krank. (“He was sick for the past three Christmases.”)

Declension[edit]

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