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Question on the origin of the phrase "Ho Ho Ho"

Posted by Keith Rennie on December 13, 2004

In Reply to: Question on the origin of the phrase "Ho Ho Ho" posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 13, 2004

: A little over a year ago, somebody who called himself "A real bearded Santa" posted a question asking where the phrase "Ho Ho Ho" came from. There was no definitive answer posted.

: I just recently read something about the Christmas Truce of 1914 and apparently some of the Germans shouted a friendly "Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!" across No Man's Land. Sounds a lot like Santa's familiar catch phrase. So my question is, did we get this Christmas tradition from the Germans, as we got so many others? "Hoch" translates as "high" or "highly" as far as I can tell, so that could be the origin. But maybe the Germans were phonetically imitating an English custom?

: I have not been able to find anything on the internet that would indicate the origin of the phrase "Ho Ho Ho" and I don't have reference manuals at home that would help me find out. Any thoughts?

It's C16 at least - Cant resist the OED - not showing off, just so d-d interesting that it's addictive:
1575 Did not the devil cry, ho, ho, ho?
1590 Shakes. Midsummer. N. Ho, ho, ho; coward, why com'st thou not?
Not very jolly examples. Still some way to bridge to Christmas, what?

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