I consider myself a near-fluent Spanish speaker, having learned it primarly in Mexico. I have never heard the term "Enhorabuena" used there; of course, I realize that this doesn't mean that it isn't used. Is it commonly used across the Spanish-speaking world, or is limited to certain countries? If I wanted to say "Congratulations on buying this thing!" or "Congratulations on achieveing your goal!" does it sound ok to use "enhorabuena" or is "felicidades" better, for a world-wide audience?
This is the first time I have ever heard of "Enhorabuena", but I did a little bit of research.
According to Spanish-Only.com
First all, there is a difference between the two. It’s a small difference, but there’s one. Second of all, you use felicidades when it’s someone’s birthday. Can you use enhorabuena as well? No! Don’t fall in the trap to use in this context. Also, when someone graduated or passed a test enhorabuena is used instead of felicidades. For the rest, you can use both words pretty much for the same things.
-Excerpt from Spanish-Only.com.
Some examples that Spanish-Only.com gave was:
- Tengo que darte la enhorabuena. (I must congratulate you.)
Yahoo! Education (Define)
'Enhorabuena' is standard language usage in Spain. It is used mainly for personal achievements, while 'Felicidades' is more for something that has happened to you. So we use 'Enhorabuena' for a promotion, a degree, a marriage or a baby, while Felicidades for birthday, Christmas or winning the lotto.
Despite this, 'Enhorabuena' is receding and 'Felicidades' is seeing its usage increase.
In response to a geographical distribution, here in Chile it is absolutely not used. I have never said it nor heard it. It is very common in Spain. But if you use it in Chile, I think a certain percent of the population will understand you.
Always remember that Spanish varies from country to country, dictionary and main directives are in RAE. Different meanings for different regions are indicated there.