1. Komm, Herr Jesu; sei du unser Gast; und segne, was du uns beschert hast.
Meaning: Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and bless what you have bestowed.
This is a common table prayer that’s usable for most meals this season. With Christmas oftentimes being celebrated in a religious manner, this is one saying you’ll most likely hear at the start of a Christmas feast. There are several variations of this prayer, but those can differ on an individual basis.
2. Gesundheit, Glück und Erfolg!
Meaning: Health, happiness and success!
A common saying when you want your well-wishing to be heartfelt and wholesome. This one is good to use at a social gathering of friends and family when you want to add a bit of genuine formality to your New Year’s blessing.
Prost is a general drinking toast that can be used in many contexts, whether you’re sipping wine at a warm and reflective Christmas gathering or drinking hearty beer at Oktoberfest. It’s quite mandatory for any kind of social drinking, so you’ll be hearing plenty of this if you’re invited to a holiday party supplied with drinks.
4. Zum Wohl
Meaning: To health
Another toast that’s appropriate and common in more formal situations, but still a good substitute for Prost. It does have a bit of an elegant ring to it and would fit nicely when the party’s drink of choice is a bit fancier than beer.
5. Prosit Neujahr!
Meaning: Here’s to the New Year!
Prosit is only a letter shy from the more colloquial Prost, but it falls on the formal and “higher-class” end of the spectrum. You probably won’t hear it often except when it’s part of a few well-known, established sayings, Prosit Neujahr being one of them. Remember that this saying is used right when the New Year starts, and not a good deal of time before or after it.
One of the best things about the winter holidays is the sense of warmth and happiness you feel when you’re indoors, safe from the cold weather and surrounded by good company and fun. Gemütlichkeit is a great way to describe that lovely, cozy moment of peace and acceptance.
It can be used as a complimentary remark when something gives off a unique feeling of comfort, whether you’re sitting in a room with people lazily chatting and sipping drinks, seeing the streets decorated to the brim with lovely winter decorations or giving a toast to family and friends.
You can say something like:
Die Weihnachtsfeiern immer strahlt Gemütlichkeit aus. (Christmas celebrations always radiate coziness.)
You can also use the adjective form gemütlich (which by itself means “cozy”) in many contexts. For example, you can say:
Ich bin in gemütlicher Runde. (I am in good/cozy company.)
7. Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude.
Meaning: Anticipation is the greatest joy.
A saying that can perfectly describe a good deal of the holiday sentiment, whether you’re waiting eagerly for Christmas presents or preparing for the incoming year. Nothing really beats that swell of emotion as the cold weather hits and the festive mood takes over your surroundings.
This expression can be used in conversation as a remark for what may come or simply a personal reminder you say to yourself while basking in the season’s warmth.
8. Ich wünsche dir/euch/Ihnen ein braves Christkind.
Meaning: I wish you a well-behaved Christ child.
This may sound a little strange to an English speaker’s ears, but to wish someone a “well-behaved Christ child” is to wish good fortune and gifts for another’s Christmas. Alternatively, a bad-behaved Christ child would bring about a pretty sour December 24th.
Das Christkind is the traditional holiday gift-giver in Germany and other nearby European countries. Historically, the Christkind was created by Protestant Martin Luther in the 16th-17th century as a counter to the Catholic-based Saint Nicholas and was an attempt to put the Christmas focus back on infant Jesus Christ as the appropriate bearer of presents on his birth date.
Over time, the interpretation of the Christkind changed from baby Jesus to a little blonde-haired (and more feminine) angel instead, although you’ll see visual representations of both beings for Christmas.
The angel’s role is much the same as jolly Saint Nick—on December 24th, the Christkind drops off presents near the Christmas tree for excited children to collect.
Saint Nicholas Day still keeps Saint Nick in the German Christmas picture. For the most part, however, greater emphasis is put on December 24th with the Christkind. Recently, there’s also been a kind of cultural debate on the rise of the more secular Santa Claus (also known as der Weihnachtsmann, literally “the Christmas man”) against the Christkind.
Some communities see the growing popularity of the jolly old man as a threat to beloved tradition.
9. Einen Guten Rutsch
Meaning: A good slide
This strange saying is a special New Year’s greeting used before the new year actually starts. Rutsch was a friendly way of saying “trip” or “travel,” although the long-used saying Guten Rutsch as a New Year’s greeting has unclear origins.
One theory suggests that the saying may be a corruption of Yiddish, but the verdict is still up in the air. You can say the more literal Gutes Neues Jahr instead to express a similar sentiment, but wishing someone a “good slide” into the new year is just as commonly used.
10. Das ist Schnee von gestern.
Meaning: That is snow from yesterday.
This is a saying that can be used in non-holiday contexts but works quite well for the end of the year. It can have two meanings; the first being more like “That’s old news” and the second akin to “That’s water under the bridge.”
The latter definition makes the saying a good expression to use at the start of a fresh new year to suggest one let bygones be bygones. For example:
Es tut mir leid für allen Ärger, die ich Ihnen dieses Jahr bereitet habe.
(I’m sorry for all the trouble that I caused you this year.)
Das ist doch Schnee von gestern!
(That’s water under the bridge!)
With these fun sayings, you’ll never be at a loss for words this holiday season. Whether you’ll be celebrating the holidays at home or (if you’re fortunate enough!) in Germany itself, we hope you find good use for these expressions.
Frohe Feiertage (Happy holidays)!