Happy Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Christmas Card - Alaina Cherup

In this global, modern world, what's the right holiday greeting? And who should even define 'right'? We asked HITC staffers what they thought, and got a variety of answers.

It's Happy Christmas for God's sake. Are we going to have 'Happy Holidays' at Easter which often coincides with Passover or Happy Ramadan or Happy Eid? There's not a Jew or Muslim I know (mind you, to the best of my knowledge none of them are radicalised) that objects to 'Happy Christmas'  What is it with this Happy Holidays nonsense?

- British Jew, just 60

I wasn't aware that it was politically incorrect to celebrate religious holidays. Are the Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus aware of this? I celebrate Christmas so it's 'Merry Christmas' please. If people want to celebrate their birthday on 25th December they can have 'Happy Birthday'; similarly, if they want to celebrate the fact that they're on holiday then they can wish 'Happy Holidays'. To each to their own. If I went to a Hanukkah party I wouldn't wish everyone 'Happy Holidays' so I'm not sure why it's any different for Christmas. Unless, of course, you're American and you have two months of partying starting with Thanksgiving, in which case please keep your wishy-washy Happy Holidays to yourselves.

- British Christian, late 20s

I hate Christmas. It's all commercial claptrap. Jesus would have refused to be born if he knew what lay in store. And, worst of all, we now have cable TV and 125 channels - and the TV is still crap over the seasonal period!

- Grumpy old ex-Catholic Brit, nearly 50

I've become used to the American 'Happy Holidays', which to me means the entire holiday season - from the first glint of cheer to whenever your holiday period ends. But if my cards aren't totally secular (and they almost never are), I make sure my Jewish friends get Hanukkah cards and my Christian friends get Christmas cards. One Jewish friend said to me, "I love Christmas lights and holiday stuff other than Hanukkah. So say 'Happy Holidays' to me." And that sealed it.

- American Episcopalian, mid 30s

I can see more use of Happy Holidays instead of Happy Christmas, particularly as globalization and diversity cuts across more of life, and not just business. Unfortunately some people are taking the politically correct angle too far, trying to force people to de-emphasise Christmas. I fundamentally disagree with this and believe that everyone should be allowed to celebrate in what ever way they feel most comfortable. We should all embrace differences, and not try to dumb down!

- British Christian, a young 46

As an American, I should be able to say 'Happy Holidays' since it sounds PC and multiculturally inclusive, but I never have been able to - it also just sounds too naff. I grew up with both Christmas and Hannukah so always addressed the appropriate crowd with 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Hannukah'. Now, especially with work contacts, I don't say anything at this time of year if I don't know which way a person leans, except to hope he or she is getting a bit of a break coming up. Everything is so much clearer when you're a kid (and Christmas is for kids, big and small)... leave it to adults to muck it all up and make saying 'Happy Christmas' to non-celebrants a worry. Too many potential toes to tread on and another symptom of the seasonal spirit being taken for a ride - and it ain't the sleighin' sort.

- Organised Religion Athiest American, 45

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