We Wish You a Merry Christmas – y-dialect

Every December, singing for Christmas and singing to learn Cree go hand in hand, especially in classrooms full of starry-eyed kids. Not long ago, someone on FaceBook asked for a Cree version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Since I couldn’t find one in our collection, I decided to attempt a translation. I roughed together some notes, then sought help, first from Solomon Ratt, and then from Dorothy Thunder. With their help, I’m pleased to offer this new Plains Cree interpretation (with all good Christmas wishes, of course).

As we went through the song together, we discussed how the original is a celebration of the English tradition of carolling (or “mumming”), where carollers go door to door spreading Christmas cheer. Of course, in the English tradition, the carollers are good-natured, but also cheeky and demanding: “Bring us some figgy pudding;” “We won’t go until we get some.” (Enough said.) We decided that a new interpretation should honour Cree cultural values of giving and sharing, so we changed accordingly, as you’ll see below.

Thanks also to artist Dawn Marie Marchand for permission to share (and modify) her miniature (Christ)Moose painting.

I’m including my own audio recording strictly for teaching purposes. Remember, I’m a môniyaw, and a learner, too, so I’m sure I sound funny: adjust your pronunciation accordingly. And if you – as a real speaker and/or singer, or teacher with a class of kids – make a new recording, please send it so we can add your example to this post. (Note that we’ve used parens in the Cree roman to show syllables that get dropped out in faster speech – or to fit the melody).

Cree (roman)Cree (syllabics)English translation
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-oskaskîwinisik
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᐅᐢᑲᐢᑮᐏᓂᓯᐠ
We wish you a Merry Christmas
and a good new year.
miyo-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
mistahi-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
ᒥᔪ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
Good news we bring you.
Great news we bring you.
nipêtânân môsokot
nipêtânân môsokot
nipêtânân môsokot
êkwa pahkwêsikan
ᓂᐯᑖᓈᐣ ᒨᓱᑯᐟ
ᓂᐯᑖᓈᐣ ᒨᓱᑯᐟ
ᓂᐯᑖᓈᐣ ᒨᓱᑯᐟ
ᐁᑿ ᐸᐦᑵᓯᑲᐣ
We bring you moose nose - and bannock!
miyo-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
mistahi-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
ᒥᔪ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
Good news we bring you.
Great news we bring you.
kocispicasi apisîs
kocispicasi apisîs
kocispicasi apisîs
wâhwâ! wîhkasin!
kocispicasi apisîs
kocispicasi apisîs
kocispicasi apisîs
wâhwâ! wîhkasin!
Taste a bit.
Wow, it tastes good!
miyo-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
mistahi-âcimow(i)na
kipêtamâtinân
ᒥᔪ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
ᒥᐢᑕᐦᐃ ᐋᒋᒧᐏᓇ
ᑭᐯᑕᒫᑎᓈᐣ
Good news we bring you.
Great news we bring you.
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-man(i)towi-kîsikan(i)sik
miyo-oskaskîwinisik
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᒪᓂᑐᐏ ᑮᓯᑲᓂᓯᐠ
ᒥᔪ ᐅᐢᑲᐢᑮᐏᓂᓯᐠ
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a good new year.

3 Responses

  1. I absolutely love this, I’m from north Alberta-wide water, my mom was Cree dad is Swedish, though mom was fluent and most of her family in the plains Cree language I was not taught the language, I am interested now at 54, I appreciate your work in this translation 🥰

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