During the holiday season, many people around the world engage in the debate between the terms “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.” Happy Holidays sparks an outrage with businesses across the nation, starting boycotts in the name of Christmas. This problem, however, can be solved with a little tact and an awareness of the differences between many cultures.
Basic etiquette requires the acknowledgment of the religion–or lack thereof–of friends, family and co-workers. If said person is a Christian, a “Merry Christmas” is appropriate. If the person is Jewish, “Happy Hanukah” is acceptable, and so on. If the religion or spiritual tradition of someone is unknown and the desire to wish them season’s greetings is imminent, a “Happy Holidays” is necessary.
“Happy Holidays” is not “a degradation of Christianity or Christmas,” notes Paul Brandeis, a scholar in Global Spirituality and Religion.
“Happy Holidays” is not inappropriate when used by businesses because of their desire to be inclusive to the dynamic they are catering to.
In public schools or on public property, “Happy Holidays” is also appropriate, because again, the dynamic and diversity of attendees is so varied. In 2015, PRRI did a survey among Americans and found “nearly half (49 percent) say stores and businesses should greet their customers with “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” out of respect for people of different faiths, while 43 percent disagree.”
With the changing cultural dynamics of America, there is this idea there is a “war on Christmas.” But any Christian knows that Christmas is not about displays or signs in public places, but about the spiritual event that is celebrated and honored within families, churches and homes.
Whether or not the words “Merry Christmas” are placed on the red Starbucks cup or on the business across the street, celebrate the season with everyone and also within the spirit. Refuse to let bitterness come into hearts at this time and let the holidays be happy and Christmas be merry.