According to to some, in particular those opposed to the holiday of Christmas, the phrase “Merry Christmas” means “Merry death of Christ.” This is based upon the belief that the Catholic Mass means death as it remembers the body and blood of Christ. This claim however is completely false.
The phrase “Merry Christmas” actually encapsulates the message of the coming of Christ seen in the Gospels (Matthew 2:9-10). Merry Christmas is equivalent to saying “joy to the world, the Lord has come,” the message of the Angels who declared the birth of Christ to the shepherds of Bethlehem (Luke 2:10-11).
The word Christmas does not mean death of Christ. The etymology of the word Christmas traces back to the Latin word ‘massa’ which is speaking of kneaded lump of dough (Bethlehem means house of bread which received the Bread of Life – John 6:51) and the Latin word ‘missa’ which means to ‘send abroad,’ as the Eucharist service ends with the phrase “ite, missa est,” which means “Go, (the prayer) has been sent.” This is where the word missionary comes from as well as they are “sent forth” with the Gospel.
In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster further traces back the word ‘missa’ to ‘missus’ which has the meaning of leisure or a cessation from labor such as for a feast or holiday.
Saying Merry Christmas is equivalent to repeating the words of the angels who announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds on the first Christmas. The coming of Christ brings great joy which is sent abroad to all the earth.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
To be merry is to be joyful. One of the most common Hebrew words translated as merry is טב ‘tov’ which also means good. The 10th month of the year on the Biblical calendar, which corresponds with December, is called טבת ‘tevet’ and comes from the word טב ‘tov.’ טב ‘tov’ literally means to ‘surround the house’ as in people gathering together during the cold of the year. This word is also translated on some occasions as ‘merry’ (Judges 16:25; 1 Samuel 25:36; 2 Samuel 13:28; Esther 1:10; Proverbs 15:15) and as joyful (Ecclesiastes 7:14; Isaiah 65:14).