What Is The ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ Meaning And Usage? | Hopeful Holidays (2023)

When Christmas is fast approaching, we often hear a plethora of greetings and sayings in our day to day activities. The once common “Merry Christmas” is now often replaced with “Happy Holidays” but have you ever heard the saying, “Make the Yuletide Gay”? If not, you’ve probably heard it sung in Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, at the least. What does “make the Yuletide gay” mean and how is it supposed to be used?

“Make the Yuletide Gay” simply means make the Yuletide season happy. Yuletide is historically a Germanic winter celebration that eventually became synonymous with Christmas. Meanwhile, “gay” is actually a traditional term that means happy before it ever was linked with homosexuality.

Though ‘Yuletide gay’ is not so common in greetings and goodbyes as many other Christmas sayings today, it’s possible you’ll encounter it at some point, even if it’s just hearing that Judy Garland Christmas song (sung by many others since her 1944 version). In that regard, let’s take a closer look at what is meant and how to use ‘make the Yuletide gay’.

What Is The ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ Meaning And Usage? | Hopeful Holidays (1)

What Does The Word Gay Mean In Make The Yuletide Gay?

As someone who’s studied languages for many years, I’m quite interested in etymology, cognates, and multiple meaning words. So it’s been interesting to look at the word gay and it’s change over the years.

The word ‘gay’ in “make the Yuletide gay” means cheerful and festive in reference to making the Christmas season happy. Over the years, ‘gay’ has changed to mean a proclivity towards ‘homosexual’ acts. Yet, it’s still acceptable to use the original ‘gay’ with context providing understanding.

Because of how we have recently equated gay with homosexuality, many people have started to wonder at the line in the famous holiday song, “make the Yuletide gay”. Children especially get confused as the original intention of the word ‘gay’ doesn’t align with their understanding.

This isn’t to say we should change the lyrics of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas“, the song written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the MGM film with (and sung by) Judy Garland, Meet Me In St. Louis. Or alter the meaning as some have proposed.


For instance, there are a couple of holiday movies with ‘gay/homosexual plot lines’ with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” as either the movie title, movie theme song, or some combination thereof. Or similarly, using “Make the Yuletide gay” to push their alternative version of the phrase and song.

However, that is not appropriate or accurate as it’s changing the intention. And not necessary!

So, while everyone deserves to enjoy and celebrate Christmas, the word gay in “Make the Yuletide gay” doesn’t at all pertain to homosexual in meaning. To change it’s meaning isn’t even necessary because it already applies to everyone with the original connotation.

If you look at the dictionary definition of the word “gay”, you will most likely to see homosexuality as one of the first meanings of this word. However, if you look at some of the other meanings, it would be easy to spot that one of the definitions of “gay” is related to happiness or being merry, as well as ‘gay’ derivatives.

gaiety: means gay-like; festive and spirited


From there, it becomes easy to see what the “gay” word is intended to mean in the saying “make the Yuletide gay”.

To reiterate, the word ‘gay’ in ‘Make the Yuletide Gay’ doesn’t refer to homosexuality, despite current ideals, because it actually covers a wider range than that. Instead, it is a word that can be used to describe anyone because it means being happy or merry.

What Is The ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ Meaning And Usage? | Hopeful Holidays (2)

So, in other words, “Make the Yuletide Gay” is simply a way of telling you to make the holiday season happy. It doesn’t relate to homosexuality in any way but is actually just a fancier or altered version of saying Merry Christmas. There really is no difference between the two greetings especially if you understand what being gay in this context actually means.

Ways to ‘make the Yuletide gay’:

  • Decorate your home or work place with Christmas colors such as red, green, gold, and silver.
  • Add a Christmas tree.
  • Eat festive foods like Christmas-themed cookies and rich, creamy desserts.
  • Drink Autumnal and Winter spirits like mulled cider or the German, gluehwein, popular at their Christmas markets.
  • Give presents to family and friends.
  • Sing Christmas carols.

How Is The Yuletide Connected To Christmas?

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While we did already talk about the word gay in the saying “Make the Yuletide Gay”, one of the things that some people don’t really understand is what Yuletide is supposed to mean or why it’s become synonymous with Christmas. So, how is Yuletide even connected to Christmas?

Yuletide is often associated with Christmas for people nowadays because of its usage in popular Christmas songs, poems, and stories. However, historically Yuletide merged with Christmas when Germanic traditions and customs were influenced by Christian religion and practices, including Christmas.

According to etymology studies, Yuletide is actually derived from the word Yule, which comes from the Old English word ġēol. Before Yule even became connected with all things ‘Christmas’, it was actually a winter festival aligned to the winter solstice and tied to belief in Norse gods, practiced by Germanic people hundreds of years ago.

‘Germanic people’ refers to those who lived in the older northern European regions of today’s northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland.

yuletide: the Christmas season


Yule customs included a ‘yule log’, decorating a tree, and wassailing, which was drinking and merrymaking with friends and family. And as you can see, all of these have become Christmas customs too.

During the tenth century when Norway and the other Germanic regions of Europe became heavily influenced by the Catholic faith, people merged their Nordic/Yule celebrations with Christian Christmas, sort of meshing of the cultures and customs. The Church encouraged this as long as the focus was on the Christian faith.

Afterwards, the two celebrations became so intertwined that Yuletide and Christmastide basically were the same things.

In retrospect, we can now see that likely Yule or Yuletide probably never really had anything to do with Christianity or Christmas in terms of what both originally meant or their ideology when they first came together. For many in the area at the time, it was just a way for the pagan Germanic people who still worshipped the older Norse gods to hold on to their practices while including some of the newer Christian ideals.

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Over time, though, as Christian beliefs became more ingrained into their culture and customs, Yuletide took on more of the Christmas meaning and shed allusions to Odin and other Norse ideals. But it’s also clear that many Christmas practices can be traced to those Germanic ones of Yule.

When we hear ‘Yule’ today it most always means ‘Christmas’ in our minds.

Thus, Yuletide is a term synonymous with Christmas even though the original meaning of the Yule festival was totally different from what it is today and the true meaning of Christmas.

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Do Christians Use ‘Yuletide’ for ‘Merry Christmas’?

For Christians, it’s very important to keep ‘Christ’ in Christmas. What this means is that most Christians are not apt to use ‘Yule’ or ‘Yuletide’ in reference to Christmas even though we know what is intended.

Using Yule or Yuletide in Christmas greetings or references is not preferred by most Christians. With current trends often substituting other words for Christmas in guise of inclusion, Christians are more determined to keep Christ in Christ-mas.

Common sayings instead of Merry Christmas:

  • Happy Holidays
  • Season’s Greetings
  • Happy Yuletide
  • Happy Yule
  • Best Wishes
  • Merry Xmas
  • Happy Festivus
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Though Christians acknowledge that Yule and Yuletide are connected to the celebration of Christmas (and not other December holidays like Hanukah and Kwanzaa), Christians are more likely to refrain from including them in their Christmas greetings and good wishes. Instead Yule and Yuletide might simply be sung or used in bedtime stories associated with Christmas.

Wrapping Up ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ Meaning And Usage

All that said, when you say “Make the Yuletide gay” while including the meanings behind Yuletide and gay, it simply is a different way of saying “Make Christmas happy” or, simply put, Merry Christmas.

As such, the meaning and usage of “Make the Yuletide Gay” really is not so different from Merry Christmas, but it’s certainly more of a mouthful and a bit awkward to say with today’s connotations attached.

And as said before, most Christians prefer saying Merry Christmas during the season as it overtly and succinctly puts Christ in the forefront.

But in truth, it’s just a different way of greeting someone during the holidays and passing along good wishes.


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Why make the Yuletide gay? ›

Make the Yuletide Gay is a 2009 American Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Rob Williams about a gay college student who is out at school, but is afraid to reveal his sexual orientation to his parents.

What does Yuletide mean for Christmas? ›

What does yuletide mean? Yuletide is sometimes used as another word for Christmastime—the Christmas season. The word yule can be used as another name for Christmas, the Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It can also be used to mean the same thing as yuletide—the Christmas season.

What is the simple meaning of Yuletide? ›

: the Christmas season : christmastide.

What is the meaning of Yuletide greetings? ›

the period around Christmas: Yuletide greetings. Synonyms. Christmas.

Why do people celebrate Yuletide? ›

Yule is a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, which marks the longest night of the year and therefore the return of the sun. On this day, the earth's axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere and the sun reaches its greatest distance from the equatorial plane.

What is the tradition of Yuletide? ›

Yuletide Celebrations

According to History.com, Yule celebrated the winter solstice and longer and brighter days ahead with the return of the sun. Historically, men would bring a massive yule log home and burn them while women decorated the homes with evergreens and candles to welcome light in.

Is Yule a pagan holiday for Christmas? ›

Yule was a pagan festival that followed the midwinter solstice (usually around 21st December) and celebrated the return of the sun as the days slowly started to get longer again. The festivities, which involved lots of drinking and consuming of slaughtered animals, lasted up to 12 days, hence the 12 days of Christmas.

What is the pagan name for Christmas? ›

Saturnalia, held in mid-December, is an ancient Roman pagan festival honoring the agricultural god Saturn. Because of when the holiday occurred—near the winter solstice—Saturnalia celebrations are the source of many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas, such as wreaths, candles, feasting and gift-giving.

What religion is Yule? ›

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Is Yuletide a pagan word? ›

In modern use, the word Yuletide is occasionally invoked as a synonym for Christmas. Yuletide is the much older of the two words; its first half, yule, derives from an Old English noun geōl. Both geōl and its etymological cousin from Old Norse (jōl) referred to a midwinter pagan festival that took place in December.

What is the symbol of Yuletide? ›

The symbols of Yule are evergreens, the Yule Log, a Yule tree, mistletoe, holly, wreaths, and bells.

What is Yuletide in the United States? ›

About Yuletide

Both words refer to a midwinter festival centered around the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year that marks the halfway point of the winter season.

What is the difference between Christmas and Yuletide? ›

As you may have guessed, because tide means “a period of time that includes and follows an anniversary, festival, etc.,” yuletide is another way of saying “the period of time that follows yule.” So, you can call “Christmas” yule and “Christmastime” yuletide, but you wouldn't call “Christmas Day” itself yuletide.

Who calls Christmas Yuletide? ›

Also calledYuletide, Yulefest
Observed byVarious Northern Europeans, Germanic peoples, Heathens, Wiccans, atheistic Satanists
TypeCultural, Germanic pagan, modern pagan
SignificanceWinter festival
4 more rows

When did Yuletide become Christmas? ›

It was not a festival per se but a marking of the passage of time. “Yule” became a name for Christmas about the 9th century, and in many languages yule and its cognates are still used to describe that holiday—jul in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish; joulud in Estonian; joulu in Finnish; and jol in Icelandic.

What is a fun fact about Yuletide? ›

According to Celtic legend, Yule represents the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King stands for the light of the year while the Holly King symbolizes darkness. Wiccan rituals usually include a reenactment of the battle. Yuletide is also celebrated as the birth of the sun.

What to do during Yuletide? ›

Here are some customary ways to celebrate the solstice—you might notice that some resemble beloved Christmas traditions.
  1. Build a Yule Altar. ...
  2. Make an Evergreen Yule Wreath. ...
  3. Burn a Yule Log. ...
  4. Decorate a Yule Tree. ...
  5. Exchange Nature-Based Gifts. ...
  6. Give Back to Nature. ...
  7. Celebrate in Candlelight. ...
  8. Set up a Meditation Space.
Dec 13, 2019

What do pagans do on Christmas Eve? ›

Things like kissing under a mistletoe, carolling, wreaths, and even gift-giving were all aspects of pagan holidays that were adapted into Christmas celebrations in the early years.

Did pagans give gifts at Yule? ›

The pagans may have given gifts at the Yule celebration as well. Christianity later took over much of Europe, and the Christians, like the Romans, learned that the best way to truly conquer was not to divide, but to incorporate.

How do you say Happy Yule? ›

“Amongst sisters and brothers and mothers of my faith, we say 'Blessed Yule' or 'Happy Yule. ' ”

What does the Bible say about Christmas? ›

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Is Christmas mentioned in the Bible? ›

Dec. 25 is not the date mentioned in the Bible as the day of Jesus's birth; the Bible is actually silent on the day or the time of year when Mary was said to have given birth to him in Bethlehem. The earliest Christians did not celebrate his birth.

Why was December 25th chosen as Jesus birthday? ›

“The real reason for the selection of Dec. 25 seems to have been that it is exactly nine months after March 25, the traditional date of Jesus' crucifixion. … As Christians developed the theological idea that Jesus was conceived and crucified on the same date, they set the date of his birth nine months later.”

Is Yule in the Bible? ›

Nor will there be that rich Christmas dinner, nor the traditional exchange of gifts. “It's not in the Bible,” said Arnold Hampton, 58, minister of the United Church of God in Columbia, Md., who hasn't celebrated the holiday since 1966. “Jesus never mentioned it.”

Is Santa a pagan god? ›

The modern Santa Claus is a direct descendent of England's Father Christmas, who was not originally a gift-giver. However, Father Christmas and his other European variations are modern incarnations of old pagan ideas about spirits who traveled the sky in midwinter, Hutton said.

Do Jews celebrate Yule? ›

These holidays hold special significance towards these religions based on historical events or their beliefs. Three of these holidays are Hanukkah and Yule/Winter Solstice. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days and was celebrated this year from November 28 to December 6.

Is Yuletide Viking? ›

Yes! Although it wasn't quite the celebration we know today. During winter, many Germanic people, including the Vikings, celebrated a festival called “Yule”. The festival started on the Midwinter Solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year) around 21st December and lasted for about 12 days.

What is the true origin of Yule? ›

Yule comes from the old Norse jól and Old English géohol which was a season of hunting after the harvest was done. This fell in what we now call December so it eventually became associated with the Christmas Holiday. The first recorded use of the noun Yuletide, according to Wikipedia, was in 1475.

When was Jesus actually born? ›

The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical sources, but most biblical scholars generally accept a date of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC, the year in which King Herod died.

What are the four types of Christmas? ›

Or Doctor Who special? Four Kinds of Christmas explores four approaches to the festive season: Scrooge, Shopper, Santa and Stable.

What was the original Christmas holiday? ›


The first was Saturnalia, which was a two-week festival honoring their god of agriculture Saturn. On December 25th, they celebrated the birth of Mithra, their sun god. Both celebrations were raucous, drunken parties.

Is the winter solstice a pagan holiday? ›

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. The celebration of Winter Solstice takes place on the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it takes place between December 20 and 23, depending on the year.

What was Christmas called in the Middle Ages? ›

Whilst the term “Christmas” first became part of the English language in the 11th century as an amalgamation of the Old English expression “Christes Maesse”, meaning “Festival of Christ”, the influences for this winter celebration pre-date this time significantly.

What does gay apparel mean for Christmas? ›

Meaning of "Don we now our gay apparel"

Traditionally, this word was used to indicated that someone is cheery, merry, jolly, or light-hearted. So, when you don your gay apparel, you get dressed in cheery clothes.

Does Falling for Christmas have gay characters in it? ›

Lindsay Lohan's Falling for Christmas just made the Yuletide gay — or possibly bisexual — with an adorably queer twist at the end. In the film, spoiled hotel heiress Sierra Belmont (Lohan) falls for hunky lodge owner Jake (Chord Overstreet) after falling off a cliff and getting amnesia.

What was the first Lgbtq Hallmark Christmas movie? ›

The Christmas House was the first Hallmark Channel film to prominently feature a same-sex couple. In the movie, Brandon and Jake's relationship is fully accepted by their relatives and friends.

What is the logo of the gay community? ›

The rainbow flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements in use since the 1970s.

What does our gay apparel mean? ›

When Oliphant wrote “don we now our gay apparel” he surely meant something like 'brightly colored, festive' clothing. But gay had other meanings too. As early as Chaucer's day, gay could mean 'lascivious,' and by the sixteenth century it could refer to someone who was dissolute, wanton, flamboyant, or uninhibited.

Why do we wear red and white during Christmas? ›

In 1931, the cola company hired Haddon Sundblom, a Michigan-born illustrator, to bring Santa (not someone dressed up as Santa) to life in magazine ads. The result was a jolly, bearded man decked in red and white (his red outfitclosely matching Coca-Cola's red shade), surrounded by verbiage bordered in green.

What Hallmark movie is the gay character in? ›

Saskatchewan-born actor George Krissa is helping make the yuletide a little extra gay this year. He's one of the stars of the new Hallmark Channel movie The Holiday Sitter, which marks the first time ever that the network has had a same-sex couple at the centre of one of their films.

What is the lesson of the movie Falling for Christmas? ›

The Real Meaning of Falling For Christmas

Like many traditional Hallmark-style movies, Falling For Christmas is about love and acceptance. The main plot was about Sierra unlearning her selfish ways and using her position to support people instead of controlling them.

Do Hallmark movies now have gay characters? ›

Hallmark LGBTQ Movies Ranked
  • Coyote Creek Christmas: 43.5. Oct. 30, 2021.
  • Mix Up in the Mediterranean: 48. Feb. 20, 2021.
  • Christmas She Wrote: 51. Dec. ...
  • Open by Christmas: 56. Nov. ...
  • Boyfriends of Christmas Past: 56.5. Oct. ...
  • The Christmas House: 58. Nov. ...
  • Don't Go Breaking My Heart: 58.5. Mar. ...
  • Christmas With the Darlings: 59. Nov.

Why did Candace leave Hallmark? ›

"It just so happened that my contract was expiring when Great American Family started up. So we did not start having those discussions until we were well into negotiations with Hallmark Channel for renewing. "And as every business person knows, you've got to do what's right for contracts," Bure added.

What's the oldest Christmas movie on TV? ›

Santa Claus

What is this? Santa Claus visits a home on Christmas Eve in George Albert Smith's 1898 British short silent drama film Santa Claus. This makes it the oldest Christmas movie ever released.

What religion celebrates Yuletide? ›

Hauling a Yule log in 1832
Also calledYuletide, Yulefest
Observed byVarious Northern Europeans, Germanic peoples, Heathens, Wiccans, atheistic Satanists
TypeCultural, Germanic pagan, modern pagan
4 more rows


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