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See also: weihnachten


Alternative forms[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 Low German Wiehnachten as well as Czech Vánoce and Slovak Vianoce.


  • IPA(key): /ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaxtən/, [ˈväɪ̯ˌnäχtən], [ˈʋäɪ̯-], [-ˌnäχtn̩]
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Weihnachten n (strong, genitive Weihnachten or Weihnachtens, plural Weihnachten)
Weihnachten pl (plural only)

  1. (often in the plural, see usage notes) Christmas
    Synonyms: Weihnachtsfest, Christfest
    Es ist Weihnachten.It's Christmas.
    frohe Weihnachten! (fröhliche 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!
    • 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.”)


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