Yearly debate on the shift from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays


Public Religion Research Institute

The 2013 survey identifies how particular groups align themselves.

Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

As society becomes more accepting of diversity, it has adapted to acknowledging the different holidays celebrated by the myriad of religions and identities present in the U.S. In the past, the U.S., schools and department stores were allowed to tell people “Merry Christmas” without being certain that the individual celebrates Christmas.

Independent, an online news publisher, traces the acknowledgment of holidays beyond Christmas began in the 1930s and 1940s as advertisers wanted all readers to feel included. These ads began to say, “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” to ensure inclusiveness, this also served as a way to please consumers to increase sales.

According to, this terminology shifted to businesses in the mid-2000s as the term “War on Christmas” was coined by conservatives in response to ex-President George W. Bush leaving Christmas out of the White House holiday card. Businesses decided that it was more professional to make the holiday season secular.

This meme illustrates the negative view of some customers about the saying.

According to Education World, there are at least ten other major holidays celebrated in December. These include Three Kings Day, Saint Nicholas Day, Fiesta of Our Lady Guadalupe, Kwanzaa, Saint Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Omisoka, Yule, and Saturnalia, celebrated by identities all over the year. No matter what the majority celebrates, you cannot assume everyone celebrates the same holiday given all the options.

Many Christians believe that not saying Merry Christmas is personal, as if people not saying “Merry Christmas” shames the idea of the celebration. However, the intention is not to disrespect anyone with the shift in the language.

According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2016 as President Trump campaigned, he said, “If I’m president, you’re going to see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me, believe me.”

This insistence of “Merry Christmas,” used exclusively as a holiday greeting goes against the First Amendment right of freedom of religion. This element dictates that the U.S. cannot establish a national religion and therefore cannot enforce celebration. Therefore, despite the increased emphasis on consumerism as a part of Christmas, the holiday is Christian in origin, thus whether he likes it or not, President Trump cannot force businesses to shift their seasonal greeting back to only acknowledging Christmas.

As society becomes increasingly aware of labels, it is appropriate that seasonal greetings shift as well. It shows that Americans overall are not ignorant to the alternatives. This does not mean that people are never allowed to say, “Merry Christmas”, but it should be limited to situations where it is absolutely certain that the recipient celebrates Christmas.