Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays Explained

For ages, Merry Christmas remained the most common way of greeting each other at this time of the year; however, now the term “Happy Holidays” is gaining ground with rising cultural diversity.

While Merry Christmas refers to only one holiday, i.e., the 25th of December, “Happy Holidays” is a generic term that includes holidays other than Christmas as well.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays: An Everlasting Debate

Apart from Christmas, many other holidays come in the month of December, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve. “Happy holidays” is mostly used out of respect for those people who are celebrating holidays beyond Christmas.

Thus, the term “Happy Holidays” promotes an inclusive culture, especially to include people who do not celebrate Christmas at all. In fact, saying “Merry Christmas” is considered a rude practice in many cultures or specific religions.

So, in a culturally diverse society like the United States, you never know the religious inclination of the person you are wishing; therefore, you might end up offending the same people you were trying to send warm greetings to.

However, the other extremist school of thought also exists in parallel. According to the New York Times, a significant number of people who celebrate Christmas consider phrases like “Happy Holidays” as a liberal insult to the event.

For them, it is a starter pack of a “War on Christmas” debate that can even turn the beautiful event into a heated debate.

Wishing people well based on their religious inclination can help everyone out

Being a country of over 330 million people who come from across the world, the US observes different festivals in December. For instance, Hanukkah is a Jewish festival usually celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar.

While this year, the event was celebrated from November 28 to December 6, every year, it is celebrated in the second half of December. Also, the date can even coincide with Christmas. Thus, Jewish people prefer to celebrate this day, instead of Christmas.

Similarly, Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival celebrated by African Americans. This event helps them in connecting with their cultural roots. So, most of these people prefer hearing “Happy Holidays,” compared to “Merry Christmas.”

Thus, in the US, the whole month of December is filled with different cultural holidays. While not many people celebrate all of these holidays combined, the idea of “Happy Holidays” is to wish well to those who are celebrating festivals other than Christmas.

If a Christmas lover is greeted with “Happy Kwanzaa,” it may be perceived as an insulting practice. Therefore, the same is the case with other cultures as well that they like to be greeted not with “Merry Christmas,” but with “Happy Holidays.”


However, not sticking with one term can be a day savior for you that can help avoid long debates. If you are absolutely sure someone is celebrating Christmas, saying “Merry Christmas” to them is the way to go.

However, if you are not sure about the faith of the person in front of you, sticking with a more generalized term of “Happy Holiday” will help you out.