Weihnachten

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See also: weihnachten

German[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. Compare Weihnacht.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaxtən/, [ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaχtən], [ˈvaɪ̯ˌnaχtn̩]
  • (file)

Noun[edit]

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

  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!
    • 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]

  • 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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