How to say “Happy New Year” in German: the textbooks and greetings cards would have you believe that you say “Gutes neues Jahr”, which is, true enough, the proper way to say it. What people actually say, however, is “Guten Rutsch”, which means have a good slide - into the New Year.
rutschen = to slide
While we’re on the topic of wishing people well, here are a few more greetings.
You can probably judge for yourself the level of formality, and so how/when to use them.
Alles Gute = Best wishes (pretty much any occasion)
Alles Gute zum Neuen Jahr = Best wishes for the new year
Die besten Wünsche für das neue Jahr! = Best wishes for the new year!
Glück und Erfolg im Neuen Jahr! = Good fortune and success in the new year!
Gesundheit*, Glück und Erfolg! = Health, happiness and success!
*Gesundheit (health) is also what you exclaim when someone sneezes
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