"Happy Holidays" Instead of "Merry Christmas"?

Yes, I generally (not always, but mostly) wish people “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” this time of year.

Here, on the National Post blog, is why.

Feel free to comment there or here. Happy Holidays!

0 Responses to “"Happy Holidays" Instead of "Merry Christmas"?”

  1. Stan Fowler

    John, thanks for saying it so well. I’ve been thinking similar thoughts recently, and I’m glad that you have the National Post forum as a location for your explanation. It seems to me that expecting everyone to enter into “Merry Christmas” is a bit like expecting everyone in a public school to say the Lord’s Prayer–in each case facilitating hypocrisy. An attachment to Christendom dies hard.

  2. robahas

    I just wrote a very insightful and perhaps too lengthly response to your article which I then somehow lost with an ill placed keystroke. To summarize, I wondered if “Merry Christmas” really has the religious content that this discussion seems to imply it has. I think not. I also wondered if in a multicultural environment it ought to be appropriate for anyone to wish anyone else a happy whatever they happen to be celebrating. And furthermore, “Merry Holidays”! :0)

  3. SursumCorda

    Your point makes much sense, but I also can’t help being amused over North Americans’ sensitivity to the issue. When my daughter lived in Shinto/Buddhist Japan she found (real) Christmas carols and public Nativity scenes aplenty. Now living in highly-secularized Europe she still finds the trappings of Christendom happily celebrated, with none of the concerns that have paralyzed us here. One can bemoan the fact that the symbols have no substance, or one can rejoice in their existence as placeholders, and pray that the Holy Spirit will breathe life into the dry bones.

    Even when I was a fire-breathing atheist, offended by nearly every other reference to religion, I happily received and returned a cheery “Merry Christmas!” If said with a smile and sincerity, I’ll take good wishes for any holiday, whether or not I celebrate it myself.

  4. Ed in Ottawa

    Christmas is a Christian celebration marking the birth of the Lord Jesus but it has also been a part of the history and culture of Canada and the west for centuries. The gospel of Jesus Christ just doesn’t affect human hearts, it also affects culture, even if that culture distorts it from time to time.

    I don’t believe it is improper to wish a Buddhist living in Canada a Merry Christmas. After all, at its most basic level, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, a man whom Buddhists usually hold in very high regard. I doubt if most Buddhists would object to the observance of the birthday of someone they hold as a role model for their faith.

    In the same way, I don’t believe it would be improper to say Merry Christmas to a Muslim, especially since Jesus is regarded as a great prophet in the Islamic faith.

    I have worked with a Muslim and a Hindu who set up Christmas trees, buy Christmas gifts for their families and have a big dinner with family and friends on Dec 25th. For them, Christmas was not a big issue of non-observance. I have heard many nonChristians say Merry Christmas to me and other Christians more than once.

    I find it interesting that saying Happy Holidays is acceptable when everyone knows that the main holiday in question is Christmas. Why not state the obvious?

    I don’t believe that saying Merry Christmas to those who are not Christian is in some way not honouring to Christ. On the contrary, I see it as a proclamation of the birth of the One who brings hope to a dark world. It is also a way of presenting the name of Jesus in the spirit of peace, respect and love and not as a word of cursing, as it is commonly done in our secular culture today.

    Christmas is an opportunity for Christians to share with their non-Christian family and friends the beauty and wonder of what the Christ child has brought and continues to bring today to people everywhere. To “take Christ out of Christmas” is to miss an opportunity of evangelism that only comes once a year.

    So, I heartily say Merry Christmas to all!


  5. travis


    I liked your thoughts on this topic. Every year Christmas seems to have more and more religious significance for me and as it does I feel more and more inclined to preserve its sanctity by adopting the stance you outlined in your article.

    See you next semester!

  6. Derek

    I know I’m a bit late (what with it being Jan.5th and all), but here’s my comment anyhow:

    Here’s the clencher for me: “Christmas is a statutory holiday for every Canadian”. It is not a matter of religion, I just don’t like to be strongarmed by politically correct activists.

    Imagine striking out every name given to every holiday (meaning vacation, not holy day, in most peoples minds) and replacing those names with Holiday – well the would be the politically correct thing to do wouldn’t it.

    What irks me a bit is that while it is no longer acceptable to call Christmas by its actual name, we are, none the less, obligated to greet a (for example) practicing Jew with “happy hanukkah”.

    I feel what you are saying, and perhaps you are correct. I’ll have to give it some more thoughts.


  7. Joy

    When I wish someone a Merry Christmas, it is with the understanding and they can only experience a truly Joyous Noel if they have a personal relationship with the Christ of Christmas… And that is exactly my wish for them.

  8. Grant

    The emphatic straining about what Christians should SAY each Christmas rather than DO reminds me of this observation by Professor Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady): “…The French never care what they do, actually,
    as long as they pronounce in properly. …” It is very ironic that Christians ofen get swept up in an “in your face!” attitude on this topic – in the name of The Prince of Peace? Hello!!

    It was also a New Years’ resolution last year to stop losing my time reading the comments after editorials or videos that I viewed. Especially on topics related to faith etc.. The “discussions” invariably devolved into name calling and tangents and were just a general waste of time. But – I rather enjoyed the lively (though sometimes prickly) comments posted after your article. I may have to modify my resolution this year.



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