Column: Why You Should Say ‘Happy Holidays,’ Not ‘Merry Christmas’

Last Updated on

1831 views

By Nay-Quan Bryan | nbryan3@radford.edu

It’s December, the time of the year when Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is on constant repeat.

Where party goers down eggnog and loudly sing Jingle Bells, December is the month of incredible light shows, Christmas trees, spending time with loved ones, and giving back to the community.

Though Christmas isn’t the only holiday of the month it is treated as such. There are so many more like the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah which started in the evening of Dec. 2, there’s Boxing Day, a holiday in the United Kingdom which is on Dec. 26, and Kwanzaa which also starts Dec. 26.

There is also Festivus on Dec. 23; which is a more secular version of Christmas, with instead of a tree you have an aluminum pole. It is a less commercialized version of Christmas, very conservative. For Festivus, there is a feast and people air out their grievances that they’ve had with other family members. Another holiday in December is Hogmanay, which is the Scottish version of New Year’s Eve, and celebrations can last up to Jan. 2.

Which One Is It?

So, the question is, with 7.53 billion people on this planet of many different backgrounds, of many different religions, do you tell a person you greet Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I personally love the Christmas season; peppermint flavored foods and beverages, gingerbread men, Christmas lights and Christmas music, and spending time with the people you love. As Americans, we’re more inclined to say Merry Christmas, but we should be observant of the many individuals who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Tis’ the season to be jolly but it is also the season of tolerance and acceptance of everyone, no matter the background, their religion, race or ethnicity.

Spread acceptance for those who don’t celebrate this Christian holiday, acknowledge their own right to celebrate holiday’s native to their religion or their culture. Respect other’s beliefs and in doing so they will respect yours. The one way you could disrespect someone’s religion or culture is by telling them Merry Christmas as some find it offensive to be told this because it is not their holiday of worship.

Happy Holidays

It took me a while to learn that not everyone acknowledges this holiday and that being told: “Have a Merry Christmas” is offensive. It also took me a while to learn to start saying “Happy Holidays” instead because I was so used to saying “Have a Merry Christmas.”

It takes practice sometimes to not say things that are normal to you. Start little by little telling everyone and anyone to “Have a Happy Holiday.” It is more politically correct and you’re considerate about the other person’s background and culture. Not everyone is the same and sometimes you can intertwine both sayings in case they do celebrate Christmas and if they don’t, they still know you are considerate of their religion or culture.

So, as I say to you from the bottom of my heart and with all the love in the world, to everyone on campus and in the city of Radford, whoever is reading this. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

Photo Credit: (chuttersnap on Unsplash)