Happy Holidays


Photo courtesy of Becky Wood.

Picture this, it’s December 18th and you’re out doing some final Christmas shopping, you get to the front of the line the cashier begins scanning your items. As you grab your bags to leave she grins and says, “Happy Holidays”. You smile back and then keep walking, wondering why she didn’t just say “Merry Christmas?”


The reason people say ‘Happy Holidays’ now instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ is because we, as a society  are now more considerate of the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas. If you know someone is Jewish you would say ‘Happy Hanukkah’, or when you know someone celebrates Christmas you say ‘Merry Christmas’. But what if you don’t know what someone celebrates? 


The saying ‘Happy Holidays’ became popular in the 1930s, the reason it came about was to represent all of the celebrations around the months of November and December. Holiday translates to Holy Day so when this phrase began it was only referring to religious holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas, Three Kings Day, etc. Now the phrase is used to talk about any holiday in December. This is why we now consider celebrations like New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day holidays. Now that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas have become so commercialized, the holiday season begins earlier and earlier every year. We say ‘Happy Holidays’ starting the week before Thanksgiving and continue to do so until New Years Day. The reason many stores and restaurants do this is to appeal to everyone no matter what they celebrate.


Many people get offended when a worker or anyone for that matter says ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’. Saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is not diminishing the celebration of Christma, but is instead promoting inclusion of other holidays and religions.