Queen Elizabeth II had always wished everyone a ‘Happy
Christmas’ throughout her life. The term however is not very often heard, as the expression
‘Merry Christmas’ takes the lead when wishes pour in during the holiday season.

But how exactly the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ started
being used has been subject to a lot of speculation.

Speaking of the history
and origins of the expression, in a discovery a few years back, the archives at
Hereford Cathedral in England shed some light on the matter.

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Up until very recently, it was
believed that Catholic bishop John Fisher who was imprisoned in 1534 was actually
behind the phrase and that it became a very common way of wishing people during
the 14th century.

The bishop was imprisoned for
refusing to recognize Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy
of England. And as conditions in jail were harsh, he had written to Thomas
Cromwell, English lawyer and statesman and the proponent of Henry VIII’s
Reformation, asking for some necessities as he signed off the letter with, “And this our Lord God send you a merry Christmas.”

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While this theory of origin has been
popular for many years, it has only been questioned recently when another
letter from another bishop was unearthed as per BBC reports.

The letter, written in 1520, 14
years before Bishop Fisher’s letter — Bishop Charles Booth of Hereford
Cathedral wrote to his colleague Canon William Burghill, beginning the
letter with: “I praye God ye may be all in good charite and mery this

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While the spelling is old-fashioned
as per modern standards, it is quite easy to recognize ‘merry Christmas.’ What
or who inspired Booth to say that is still unknown or whether he came up with
the expression himself is yet to be discovered.  

The English carol ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ which was
introduced in the 1500s, also uses the popular phrase. The expression, however, it is believed, gained recognition when writer Charles Dickens used
the phrase in his 1843 story A Christmas Carol.