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“Merry Christmas” Or “Happy Holidays”?

“Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

We’ve now entered the holiday season, so should you greet people with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? It seems to matter to Americans, but why???

In language learning, knowing how to use multi-word expressions is a challenge. Regarding “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, there is some debate over which is best. The arguments boil down as follows:

Happy Holidays

People use this greeting to be inclusive. They may not be sure if a person celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or another solstice-based festival. Or possibly they want to refer to the entire season, to include New Year’s. “Happy Holidays” covers all the bases.

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a religious holiday with a big nonreligious side. Therefore, many worry that gifts and Santa take away from the true meaning of the day. For them, “Happy Holidays” removes the name “Christmas” (and hence the name of Christ), and denies the real purpose of the celebration.

Want to learn more about these expressions? Then go to to learn how they became an American controversy.