I am not what you would consider to be a “fanatic” for the holiday season, by any means. But, I do know what the holidays mean to a lot of people and, because of that, I still accept the proverbial greetings every year and engage with anyone who wants to wish me a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Holidays.” Where there seems to be a divide is whether people should be saying one or the other. I say, “Why not both?” I think first and foremost, the intention of holiday greetings—whether on postcards or on a social media post—should be the desire to spread cheer throughout this time of year. However, understanding what you are saying and how it can be interpreted by others is really what matters when sharing messages and greetings to one another, in my opinion.
I find that “Merry Christmas” is a decent greeting and elicits a nice feeling when I hear it, but I also grew up celebrating Christmas, so it’s the greeting I would most align with, anyway. According to an article posted on the publishing platform Medium, there is a popular idea that “Happy Holidays” excludes Christmas in favor of the overarching winter holiday season. I would agree with this—It is where the problem comes in with a lot of the discourse surrounding season’s greetings. However, to say one broad phrase could necessarily exclude another term which in itself is under the umbrella of that term does not make a lot of sense. If “Happy Holidays” is meant to encompass more than one holiday, Christmas would be included in that.
As someone who really has only ever celebrated one major holiday in the winter (which is Christmas), I have always felt included in the “Merry Christmases” and any other Christmas-centric acknowledgements. What I wouldn’t be able to relate to is if someone came up to me wishing a “Happy Hanukkah,” but there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. It just wouldn’t mean the same thing to me as a “Merry Christmas,” but that is okay—The sentiment is still there.
In the United States, according to online data gathering platform Statista, the three most popular national and religious events in the second fiscal quarter of this year were Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and Christmas. Holidays like Ramadan and Eid al-Adha were in the bottom six of the 18 holidays listed. This would then just make the argument that Christmas is getting “erased” by a generalized holiday greeting simply inaccurate. Truthfully, at least for me, making the shift from one specific holiday greeting to another isn’t that hard and it shouldn’t be for anyone else that wants to celebrate the holiday season with kindness and cheer. This shouldn’t mean the death of “Merry Christmas,” but an addition to the holiday season’s greetings that show you care about everyone.
The holiday season is meant to bring people together, and what better way to celebrate than to include everyone in on the joy? I won’t reject a “Merry Christmas” or any holiday greeting. But a “Happy Holidays” to me makes it seem as if the person talking to me understands that I might not celebrate Christmas, but that they want to include those they wish a happy anything to, to have a good one.