Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

It’s an ongoing debate – one that really hits a nerve with some people.

Merry Christmas OR Happy Holidays!? Which do you say? Is either really offensive?

In my opinion, yes.

I may be dumping out a whole can of worms here, but here’s my take on it:  If there’s Christ in your Christmas, my omission of the actual word sure as heck isn’t going to change that. And, if you automatically assume that since you celebrate Christ at Christmastime, I must too, well, that’s kind of a big assumption, now isn’t it?

I say “happy holidays” (or even just “Have a great day!”) and I can be found regularly asking people what they celebrate, if anything. I find it interesting, and I think it’s nice to acknowledge that people celebrate all different kinds of things. If I am not familiar with your holiday, that’s even better. Tell me about it, and why it means something to you. But you’re not going to hear a general Merry Christmas out of me, unless I know you well enough to know it’s appropriate. If there’s one thing I’m sure about this season, it’s that Christmas may be a holiday, but it’s not the holiday.

OK. #endrant.

Since I have friends that celebrate in lots of different ways, I prefer to send out very general greeting cards during the winter season. That’s why I always get my cards from Shutterfly. Sure, they offer holiday-specific cards, but they also offer a ton of cards that carry just the happy, heartwarming sentiment I want, without being so specific as to alienate anyone. With their selection of holiday cards and greeting cards, I can feature a beautiful photo and send the same card out to all of our family and friends, sending our love and wishing them the best the season has to offer.

The only problem is narrowing down my choices! I love so many of them!

This may be this year’s winner. What do you think?

Do you wish people a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Does either offend you?

Do you believe you should wish people a Merry Christmas even if they may not celebrate Christmas at all?

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  1. Athena says

    I can see the point of view of people who find “christmas” offesive, but on the other hand I sort of just shake my head a little and think that’s it’s all just P.C. gone mad. When people wish other people a Merry Christmas, they’re not telling you to go worship Christ for the day or convert to Christianity – they’re just wishing a really happy day for you. Many of them probably aren’t Christian themselves anyway, they’re just following a tradition they grew up with and I really don’t see the harm in it.

    Personally, I’m a Pagan so I celebrate Yule (well, I’m in the Southern Hemisphere, so it’ll actually be the Summer Solstice), but I still wish people a Merry Christmas and they know exactly what I’m meaning. People who care enough about it to be offended will let me know they don’t celebrate Christmas, and so I’ll smile and just say “Well, have a happy holiday season”.

    I suppose cards with Merry Xmas rather than Christmas on them would be appropriate for your concerns – with X being the unkown factor in mathematical equations, you’d be saying “I don’t know what you’re celebrating, but enjoy it anyway”.

  2. says

    I definitely think Happy Holidays is appropriate all around, and I appreciate the intentional respect for how my family may or may not do things. I get frustrated with the insistence that we should all celebrate Christmas, yet at the same time, I don’t mind hearing “Merry Christmas” or “God bless you,” despite the assumptions involved. It’s nice to receive kind thoughts and blessings from any religious base.

    I love your card, too. That looks like a great choice!

  3. says

    I say Merry Christmas, unless I know specifically that they do not celebrate Christmas because they are from a different Faith background. Why? Because as a Catholic, I celebrate Christmas, and I want to share the joy of the Season with everyone. I happen to live in an area where people are predominantly Christian. However we do have a significant Jewish community, as well as Muslims, and as our community grows we have Hindi’s and Buddhists who are joining us.

    Thing is why wouldn’t I share the full joy and peace that I feel at that time of year with everyone around me? Wishing someone Merry Christmas doesn’t mean that I’m trying to convert them. Wishing them Merry Christmas means that I’m wishing Joy, Peace, Good Health, and all things good for them and their families. I mean, even if they are not Christian, most people have Christmas as a day off from work because (here at least) it’s a statutory holiday, and many of them will spend the day together as a family.

    • admin says

      As much as I feel weird saying “Merry Christmas” to strangers because I think it’s presuming something I have no right to presume, I agree with you that when I hear it, the intent is usually one of wanting to share the joy of the season (and we could always use more well wishes among strangers, right?)

      I do truly appreciate a well-intended kind gesture, but what I have the real problem with is when some people get bent out of shape when they hear “Happy Holidays.” Like you said above, you aren’t trying to push the religious aspect of the holiday, so I would argue that by generalizing the holidays, you can’t really remove the religious aspect for those who believe in it, either.

      Thanks for your comment! :)

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