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Saying Merry Christmas (Grade 3)

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Saying Merry Christmas

It was getting closer to Christmas and Erica was feeling the holiday spirit.

Everywhere she went, she would wave at anyone she saw and yell “Merry Christmas!”

She wanted everyone to know that Christmas was coming and bring them a bit of Christmas cheer too. Most people smiled and waved back. A few tossed out a Merry Christmas of their own. Erica would then continue on her way, spreading Christmas greetings to the next person she saw.

On this particular day, the next person she saw was a girl named Céline, who she had seen before at school. “Merry Christmas,” Erica called, as she had to everyone else she saw that day.

“Joyeux Noel,” Céline called back.

Erica smiled and started to walk away. Then she realized she didn’t understand what Céline had said. “Wait, Céline!” Erica called. “What did you say?”

“I said Joyeux Noel,” Céline replied.

“I heard that,” said Erica. “But what does it mean?”

“I’m from France and in France, Joyeux Noel is how we say Merry Christmas,” Céline told her. “But it doesn’t mean that exactly. Joyeux means happy. Joyeux Noel – Happy Christmas.”

Erica was surprised. She thought people all over the world said “Merry Christmas” just like she did. Not convinced that she was wrong, Erica decided to head to her friend Isabel’s house. Isabel was Spain and Erica was sure that Isabel said “Merry Christmas” just like she did.

But when Erica got to Isabel’s house, she was surprised again.

“Feliz Navidad,” Isabel said.

“Feliz Navidad?” Erica repeated, confused.

“Yes, Feliz Navidad is how we say Merry Christmas in Spanish,” Isabel told her.

“But ‘feliz’ means happy, so really we’re saying ‘happy Christmas.’”

Erica was even more confused. Not only did people from other countries not say

“Merry Christmas” the ways she did, but some of them didn’t actually say “Merry Christmas” at all? Erica decided to visit her friend Gia to see if she could tell her anything.

Gia was from Italy and she told Erica that in Italy, they said “Buon Natale” instead of Merry Christmas.

“And does that mean Merry Christmas?” Erica asked.

“Sort of,” Gia replied. “Buon means good, so instead of saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ we wish people a good Christmas.”

Erica said goodbye to her friend Gia and headed off to see her friend Hans. Surely in Germany they said Merry Christmas.

“Fröhliche Weihnachten,” Hans greeted her when she answered the door.

“Let me guess,” Erica said. “That means good Christmas or happy Christmas.”

“Nope, but close” Hans replied. “Fröhliche means merry and Weihnachten means Christmas.”

Erica was glad that at least what Hans said meant Merry Christmas. She didn’t understand why everyone couldn’t just say Merry Christmas the same way though. She headed home without saying Merry Christmas to anyone.

When Erica walked in the door, her mom noticed she looked disappointed. “What happened to the cheerful Erica who was greeting everyone with a Merry Christmas earlier today?” her mom asked.

“Mom, did you know everyone doesn’t say Merry Christmas in the same way?” Erica sighed.

“What do you mean?” her mom asked.

“Well, Céline says Joyeux Noel and Gia says Buon Natale and Isabel says Feliz Navidad and Hans says Fröhliche Weihnachten,” Erica explained. “And they don’t all mean Merry Christmas. Some mean good Christmas or happy Christmas.”

“I don’t always say Merry Christmas,” her mom added. “Sometimes I say Happy Holidays and when I’m writing it out, I may write Merry Xmas, but it doesn’t matter how people say Merry Christmas.”

“Of course it does,” Erica argued. “It’s not the same if they don’t say Merry

“People say Merry Christmas in all different ways,” her mom said. “They also celebrate Christmas in all different ways. Some people put lights on their houses and some decorate Christmas trees. Some go to church on Christmas Eve and some just stay home and spend time with their family and friends. Some people get lots of presents and some only get one.”

“But how can it still be Christmas if people say Merry Christmas and celebrate Christmas in different ways?” Erica asked.

“Because Christmas isn’t about how you say Merry Christmas or what you do on the holiday,” her mom replied. “Christmas is about enjoying life and being thankful for what you have. It’s about giving to others and celebrating life and you can do that whether you say Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad or Fröhliche Weihnachten.”
What are the different ways to say "Merry Christmas" that the passage includes?
Be sure to include the countries they come from.

What is the purpose of this passage?
  1. To explain how to say Merry Christmas in different ways
  2. To explain the true meaning of Christmas
  3. To explain why Erica was confused
  4. Both a and b
Ask a friend how they celebrate Christmas or research how Christmas is celebrated somewhere else. Fill out the Venn diagram comparing the way you celebrate Christmas and the way they celebrate Christmas.

Note: If you don't celebrate Christmas, choose the winter holiday you do celebrate.
Venn Diagram

Which word describes Erica at the beginning of the story?
  1. Confused
  2. Friendly
  3. Uptight
  4. Disappointed
Even though people say Merry Christmas in different ways, they all celebrate it in the same way.
  1. True
  2. False

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