by Don  

Picture of ornaments with 'Happy New Year' on card

Ah, pity the poor foreigner who has to come to the US and offer his congratulations to someone. If it's December 25th, he must say “Merry Christmas,” whereas “Happy Christmas” just sounds weird. If it's January first, he must say “Happy New Year,” whereas “Merry New Year” sounds freakish. If it's a wedding or birth or a graduation, then he must say “congratulations.” It's enough to drive a foreigner back home.

The Russians, on the other hand, have a verb that works for absolutely every holiday and well-wishing event, and that is the verb поздравлять/поздравить “to congratulate.” It is conjugated like this:

to congratulate
Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive поздравлять поздравить
Past поздравлял
Present поздравляю
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду поздравлять
будешь поздравлять
будет поздравлять
будем поздравлять
будете поздравлять
будут поздравлять
Imperative поздравляй(те) поздравь(те)

The person you congratulate goes in the accusative case:

Поздравляю тебя! Congratulations!
Поздравляю вас! Congratulations!
Она поздравила меня. She congratulated me.
Виктор поздравил её Victor congratulated her.

If you mention the event triggering the congratulations, it goes in the instrumental case after the preposition с:

Поздравляю тебя с Новым годом! Happy New Year!
Поздравляю вас с Рождеством Христовым! Merry Christmas!

The Russians also sometimes simply skip the person and the verb, leaving only the prepositonal phrase:

С Новым годом! Happy New Year!
С Рождеством Христовым! Merry Christmas!

Although the event may be the name of a holiday, it could also be a good grade, or a new car, or pretty well anything else:

Миша поздравил Таню с пятёркой. Misha congratulated Tanya for getting an A.
Поздравляю с новой машиной! Congatulations on the new car!
— Здравствуйте, Иван Андреевич! Я слышал, что в прошлом месяце Ваш развод наконец-то был окончательно оформлен. Поздравляю Вас!
— Благодарю Вас. Вас благодарит и моя новая жена.
— Что-что? Вы ещё раз женились? Ну… значит… ы-ы-ы… поздравляю Вас и со свадьбой.
— От всей души благодарю.
“Hello, Ivan Andreevich, I heard that last month your divorce was finalized. Congratulations!”
“I thank you very much. My new wife also thanks you.”
“What's that? You've already remarried? Well… so… ummm… congratulations upon your marriage.”
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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