Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

Vikki Hartt & Kelly Rickert, Opinion Co-Editors

Happy Holidays

Vikki Hartt

As the holiday season approaches, so do the cheerful greetings from friends, neighbors, and even workers at stores and restaurants. But what kind of cheerful greeting would you rather hear? It’s a question that comes up every year right around December, that daunting debate: “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

Technically, “Happy Holidays” is the politically correct greeting to say to virtually anyone. The greeting, “Happy Holidays” encompasses all holidays into one simple greeting, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s. Because we live in a multicultural society, “Happy Holidays” is a more sensitive way to greet someone.

Sure, some of us have grown up hearing “Merry Christmas” and we might just say it out of habit, but times have changed and we have to realize that Christmas is not celebrated by everyone, and that someone could actually be offended by the greeting. A poll by the Religion News Survey shows that 49% of the people surveyed were opposed to sayings such as “Merry Christmas,” and would rather the greeting “Happy Holidays.”

There may also be a generational bias. According to a Fox News article, older generations were more likely to choose “Merry Christmas,” while 50% of the younger generation preferred “Happy Holidays.”  There is really no “right” or “wrong” greeting; it’s up to you which greeting to use.

Personally, I think “Happy Holidays” is the “safe choice.” I want to celebrate the holidays with love and joy and not offend anyone. I don’t think I would appreciate it if I celebrated Kwanza and someone said “Merry Christmas” to me, so I think “Happy Holidays” is a good greeting to use, especially to people you don’t know very well. Overall, it’s still a nice greeting that sends the same message, celebrating joy and happiness during the holiday season. Season’s Greetings!

Merry Christmas

Kelly Rickert

While “Happy Holidays” has been deemed the “politically correct” greeting of the winter season, there are many people who still prefer expressing cheer by saying “Merry Christmas.”

This is not as far of a reach as much of the media would have people believe since, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas. The people who say “Merry Christmas” to others at this time of year do not do so maliciously or to offend the 5% of Americans who do not celebrate the holiday; they simply do it to share the cheer and joy of the season.

The greeting “Merry Christmas” is meant to bring cheer and generally does not offend even non-Christians. In fact, Frydman-Kohl, a rabbi in a large conservative synagogue in the United States, once said, “If someone doesn’t know I’m Jewish and says Merry Christmas’ to me, it’s not time for a lesson on how one might greet people. It’s time to accept it in a good spirit and wish someone well.”

Also, in an article titled, “The Jewish Case for ‘Merry Christmas,” Don Feder defends the expression “Merry Christmas” comparing it to someone saying “Happy Hanukkah” in Tel Aviv, Israel. In response to comments  saying “Merry Christmas” was disrespectful, Feder says“Disrespectful to who? The 5% of the American people who don’t celebrate Christmas? But how many of them actually care? For years, people said ‘Merry Christmas’ to me, without inflicting severe emotional harm. Would it be disrespectful for a clerk in Tel Aviv to wish someone a ‘Happy Hanukkah’?”

Personally, I celebrate a traditional Christian Christmas, so I greet people by saying “Merry Christmas” to share my joy in celebrating the season.

If someone were to be offended by this, I would hope they would tell me, but I have yet to have this happen in my lifetime. So, as we come upon this season, I want to wish  readers a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year.