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Establishing and Maintaining Social Relationships in Spanish

By Audrey Alleyne

In every language we express greetings for various seasons. We call these “Seasons Greetings.” We express wishes to each other for birthdays and for various feast days. We congratulate each other on passing examinations or on winning contests. We exchange toasts for special occasions.

Spanish Greetings

What expressions do Spanish speaking people use to express these greetings? Let’s start with Christmas, New Year and Easter. The Spanish use the following expressions:

Feliz Navidad - Merry Christmas

Feliz Ano Nuevo - Happy New Year/Prospero Ano Nuevo

Felices Pascuas - Happy Easter

Now that you know these three, let’s try some more. The Spanish may not celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving in their home country like the Americans do, but if they are living in the United States, they usually join in the celebrations. You may want to wish a Spanish speaking friend who invites you his home, or whom you greet in the street, a Happy Thanksgiving in Spanish; if you want to impress them with Spanish you have learnt. What do you say? You can say:

Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias

Some More Greetings

Following is a list of other greetings to address certain occasions:

Independence Day - Feliz Día de la Independencia

Valentine’s Day - Feliz Día de los Enamorados/ Feliz día de San Valentín

Mother’s Day - Feliz Día de la Madre

Father’s Day - Feliz Día del Padre

Happy Birthday - Feliz cumpleaños

A very popular celebration by Hispanics in the United States is that of "Cinco de Mayo", celebrated on May 5th in honor of Mexico’s defeat of France. You simply say “Feliz Cinco de Mayo.”

Almost everyone toasts for happy occasions like weddings and dinner parties. We toast at flag-raising ceremonies and State visits, or just having fun partying with friends. What do the Spanish say? For example, in celebrating Spanish Independence, they say “¡Que viva España!” When just toasting over a birthday, or a drink among friends , they say “¡Salud”!

If you would like to congratulate someone in Spanish on passing an examination, on winning a prize or a contest, or on a fine performance in playing some sport or game or a splendid dance performance, you can use a formal expression to a stranger and say “¡Le felicito!” or to a friend “¡Te felicito”!

You would like to express good wishes to someone on undertaking a venture. Try the following:

Buena suerte - Good luck

Que le vaya bien (formal) - May everything go well with you (literally)

Que te vaya bien (informal) - May everything go well with you (literally)

Condolences and Happy Greetings

At some time or another we need to console someone on the occasion of a death. In Spanish we can say:

Mi más profundo pésame

Te acompaño en tus sentimientos

Both of these can express the English expression of “Please accept my sympathy” or “My condolences”.

We can end on a happier note by wishing a Hispanic or Spanish girl who celebrates her 15th birthday “Feliz Quinceañera”. You can wish someone who celebrates his or her First Communion “Feliz Primera Comunión”, and someone who celebrates a wedding anniversary “Feliz Aniversario de Bodas.”

Now, I wish you ¡Buena Suerte!