Irish Slang – Prosperous New Year!

old Irish man laughingSo you’re in Ireland for the new year and you’re wondering how to greet folks in a festive manner.

Well, there’s a twist on the expected here. While it’s certainly commonplace to say “Happy New Year” stateside, the Irish have already used that adjective recently to describe Christmas.

It just sounds a bit odd to go about wishing folks a happy Christmas and a happy new year. Instead, the Irish wish people a “Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.”

You know, I think it’s when there are little changes to very familiar phrases that things sound the most wrong to one’s ears. I was trying to puzzle out how a culture that values family, hospitality and craíc over almost anything else could have a tradition that espouses such blatant materialism. Then, I discovered this was not an English language tradition.

The reason people say “Have a prosperous New Year” is not because of the redundant happiness after their Christmas greetings, but because the original Irish phrase is being translated.

Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit – Have a prosperous New Year.

This is pronounced, “uh-VLEE-ihn fwee MAH-huh ditch”. This is most commonly combined with the Christmas greeting to be “Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit.

Go on, give it a try: NULL-egg KUH-nuh AH-guss uh-VLEE-ihn fwee MAH-huh ditch.

Quite a mouthful, eh?