Social Question

chelle21689's avatar

Why do many people get angry if someone says "Happy Holidays"?

Asked by chelle21689 (7648points) December 20th, 2010

I get really annoyed when I hear someone bitching about being told “Happy Holidays”. It’s polite, they need to get over it and realize that not everyone is CHRISTIAN.

I got into a debate with my friend…and she is saying that this is one nation under God and that for some reason “happy holidays” is a way of pushing Jesus out.

What do you think about the whole thing? I mean there’s a lot of Jews here in America…I think it’s reasonable to say “happy holidays” to people since the majority celebrate Christmas. They should say whatever they want . Some people don’t celebrate Christmas, so I think “Happy Holidays” is appropriate.

I’m not Christian, but when people tell me “Merry Christmas!” then I say it back. No offense at all.

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75 Answers

world_hello's avatar

I’m old and will offer some advice. Don’t argue with or try to understand stupid. Just nod and smile and walk away.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Never had this happen. Generally, some people get pissy if they’re told Merry Christmas because they don’t celebrate it. I generally just say ‘Thanks, Happy Holidays!’ back because I’ve got bigger battles to fight. Now, if someone were to tell me that they don’t like it, they’d get a mouthful back on all things being relative and equally important and how there’s no need to make your holiday any more important.

Coloma's avatar

Closed minded and highly defended people often take offense at anything that does not mesh with their rigid belief systems.

I had a ‘friend’ once that flipped out when I sent her a lovely pictorial Xmas email video because it failed to mention “God.’

Needless to say she is no longer a friend, I don’t walk on eggshells for anyone.

And, some people are just grievances constantly looking for causes, seek and ye shall find! lol

marinelife's avatar

It is intolerant at best.

gondwanalon's avatar

This is odd. It has been just the oposite for me. People get angry when I say Merry Christmas. I’ve never heard of someone getting mad from someone saying “Happy Holidays”. I guess that I just won’t say aything any more. Or how about “Good Health”?

chelle21689's avatar

“Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Kwanzaa”, whatever. I take it as someone being polite lol. I’ll chuckle if someone says “Hannukkah or Kwanzaa” just because I don’t celebrate it but I’d say it to someone Jewish or that celebrates Kwanzaa. sigh who knew a polite term would cause so much drama?

Yeah, there’s tons of Facebook fan pages dedicated to “It’s MERRY CHRISTMAS, not HAPPY HOLIDAYS!”

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir and I must be hanging out at the same places. Hi, sweetie, wanna go for coffee? because that never happens to me. I keep hearing about it, never personally heard it.

6rant6's avatar

I have never had this happen. But then I often carry an axe, so that could be part of it.

No, seriously, when I was young, I was very conservative, and I had the notion that people with “Extreme views” were out to get “us”. As I aged – like a fine cheese – I found that everyone wanted something that was not on the list of “approved presents.” And so I became more tolerant of people with other views.

So I can imagine that people who have that reaction hold the view that everyone who is a little different is out to get them. And their reaction is to lash out in self defense before anything happens.

You know, I think maybe I will start carrying that axe. Just to be safe.

Doppelganger19's avatar

They’re hoping for unhappy holidays, maybe? What other legitimate could there be?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JilltheTooth Clearly, we’re not hanging out in the same place! You know my number, you call me.

coffeenut's avatar

Well…Happy Holidays is better than Merry Christmas….. I don’t care what people want to believe as long as they leave me out of it….but with Christmas no-one is left out…The Christmas Propaganda is everywhere around here…on the TV, on the Radio, in the store fliers, in the stores, on the store PA system, on people, on the streets, on houses….everywhere…
At least the other religions keep there holidays in check
So it turns in Holiday Sensory Overload and you just don’t want to hear anymore Holiday anything… It wouldn’t be so bad if it was only a month…but most of this shit starts mid October

6rant6's avatar

That does it. From now on, I’m going to say, “Merry Christmas” but think, “Meh-ry Christmas.”

tinyfaery's avatar

They’re ungrateful pricks who obviously have no idea what the Christmas holiday season is about. I bet Jesus would cuss someone out if they said happy holidays.~

holli's avatar

I received an email from a client that I suspect he meant to send out to just his office. In the email it said that everyone must decorate both their offices and homes with Christmas decor and “should and shall” wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays is not acceptable. I found it disgusting and a huge turn off to continue to do business with such a close-minded individual. I certainly don’t understand the ignorance.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@holli Seriously?! I’d file a formal complaint.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Well the complaint that I hear about “Happy Holidays,” around here anyhow, is that it is taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas.” It isn’t the “holidays” it isn’t “Xmas” it isn’t “Season’s Greetings,” it’s Merry CHRISTmas.

I’m surprised that so many people have heard it the other way around. This is a hot issue every winter around here. People get really worked up about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Very interesting, must be a regional difference.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir they put up billboards. No joke.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Any time I get a Happy anything or Merry anything it’s ok by me. The f——offs I don’t enjoy as much.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@holli : Someone should show that person this.

Jaxk's avatar

There is no problem with “Happy Holidays”. Where we create a problem is when we try to exclude Christmas. We want to make Christmas an all inclusive holiday but it’s not. It’s Christmas. Enacted by congress in 1870 and signed by Grant. It was not enacted as a general purpose holiday or a Hanukkah holiday or a Ramadan holiday, it is a Christmas holiday. There is no such thing as a Holiday Tree, it is a Christmas Tree.

Now for the “Happy Holidays’ slogan, there is no problem. Happy Holidays has been around forever and does not carry any negative connotations. Use it if you want but don’t try to legislate or otherwise eliminate those that want to say Merry Christmas.

Every holiday has a specific purpose, Martin Luther King day, Veterans day, Fourth of July all are to celebrate a specific event or purpose. Say what you will but don’t dictate what I should say. Just my opinion.

absalom's avatar

Jon Stewart summed it up pretty well in this segment on the ‘War on Christmas’.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Jaxk Holidays that take place in December: Hannukah, Christmas, Yule, Kwanza, Festivus and Giftmas. Don’t tell me what I can call my tree. The only day that really applies to Merry Christmas is 12/25.

bkcunningham's avatar

I celebrate Christmas. But if you recognize it as such and want to wish me a happy holy day, that is fine too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Oh, I believe you. Sigh.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve not run into that, Happy Holidays is pretty inclusive for anyone celebrating religious signifigance and those pretty much celebrating winter school breaks, time off to be with the people they care about. I ignore pissy people who have to point out Hanukah hasn’t started yet or they aren’t religious at all, blah blah. If I say Happy Holidays it means I’m being polite and don’t intend people to read much into it.

Jaxk's avatar


Unfortunately none of those were designated a holiday. And of course, call your tree what ever you want. A rose by any other name, so to speak.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Jaxk Only one day is a designated holiday, 12/25. All other days, Happy Holidays applies. And why is designation so important? America has all sorts of inane and offensive designations.

Coloma's avatar

I have long wanted to take a Xmas pic. and make a card of my goose ‘Marwyn’’ as the baby Jesus. lol

I have this idea of borrowing a real manger from my local feed store, he will lie on his back on a bed of hay and the neigh-bors, sheep & donkeys, horse and Llama will be standing in a semi-circle looking over him. lolol

I am going to fashion a gold ’ halo’ and attach it over his head or on his head.

I am going to do it one of these years, and if anyone wants to take offense, well…that’s their problem. haha

muppetish's avatar

I have never been yelled at for saying “happy holiday”. The most common responses I get are: “Thanks”, “Merry Christmas!”, and “What, are you English?” (Even when wishing someone well on Christmas, I am more inclined to say “happy” than “merry”—it’s just my manner of speaking.) Many of my friends are Buddhist and do not celebrate Christmas. I enjoy being inclusive and wish them a “happy holiday” instead of deferring to any single celebratory occasion. Why not? I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with the language.

It makes no sense that anyone would feel my diction threatens how they recognize their holiday. I’m not forcibly taking the word “Christmas” away from anyone by not using the word myself.

Smashley's avatar

People get mad because they’ve fallen under the spell of needless politicization of the winter holiday season, which is commonly called “Christmas,” owing its name to the particular cultural history of the region.

Somewhere along the line, someone realized that not everyone was Christian, and the custom of wishing someone “Merry Christmas” might not work as a universal standard. “Happy holidays” became a growing tradition, because it is simply more inclusive. Then, apparently looking for one more thing to bitch and moan about, some Christians perverted this concept into what we now call “the War on Christmas,” which is so far from the point it is laughable. In a faux-nostalgic, political and reductionist way, they started convincing people that the shift from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” was somehow an attack on the Christian religion. People who get mad about being wished “happy holidays” have simply bought into this argument in such unreasonable quantities that they turn a friendly salutation into a perceived attack.

I don’t question wishing people “Merry Christmas” myself, because that’s the common name in my society for the winter holiday season. My celebration is cultural and traditional, though secular. As a culture, we’ve set this time of year aside for rest, reflection, reconnection, charity and joy. Though perhaps the season has certain religious roots, to me, religion and Christmas have never overlapped. I’ve taken a bit of flack from my more militant atheist, pagan and jewish friends for this view, however. Some people apparently have responded to the “keep Christ in Christmas” antagonism by enforcing that the word “Christmas” is equally offensive: a position I see as equally lacking.

Just get over it, call it what you want, don’t freak out at other people calling it what they want, and enjoy your shared cultural heritage in whatever way suits you best.

absalom's avatar

Also, looking at data from Google Ngram, the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ is still overwhelmingly more frequent than ‘Happy Holidays’ in English-language publications. For someone to complain that it’s being threatened is just silly. Even among the individual words, ‘Christmas’ still wins.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Here’s something my parents told me when I was kid- Christians are being Christian by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, they don’t necessarily assume you are Christian too, they aren’t trying to seduce you into the relgious either.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Coloma I have Buffy on top of my tree. You know, she came back from the dead, a few times.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@psychocandy : And she saved the world. A lot.

Coloma's avatar


lol, yeah, my one new cat is on life 7 now. haha

Jeruba's avatar

I have never had anyone get angry with me for offering them a friendly greeting or wishing them happiness. My thought is that people who express anger at such a thing were already angry before you said anything.

tinyfaery's avatar

@JilltheTooth Are you a Buffy lover, too, or has Katawa bombarded you with it?

etignotasanimum's avatar

I’ve had people get upset with me a few times when I wished them a Happy Holiday, and I’ve found it irritating but ignorable. I celebrate Christmas even though I’m not Christian and I don’t get offended when someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah (for some reason people always assume I’m Jewish, I have absolutely no idea why) because to me, it’s really all the same. If someone wishes me a happy holiday, any holiday, I assume it’s because they genuinely want me to be happy and are expressing their own happiness. I use Happy Holidays because its neutral and it’s good at expressing my wishes for the holiday season without pissing anyone off. Well, generally speaking, that is.

thekoukoureport's avatar

who cares if they get pissy.. HAPPY solstice everyone! and yes that is a real holiday.

downtide's avatar

The phrase “happy holidays” isn’t used at all in the UK because here, the word “holiday” has the same meaning as the American word “vacation”. So to say “Happy Holidays” implies that the other person is going on a trip. Nothing to do with Christmas at all. For a non-Christian message we would more likely say “Season’s Greetings” but “Merry Christmas” is much more common.

Blondesjon's avatar

You all realize that the world is going to shit, not because of religion (or a lack thereof), but because of folks getting more and more pissy over words.

If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas it’s because it’s fucking Christmas. If someone came up to me and wished my a Happy Festivus or a Glorious Kwanzaa I would wish them the same and get on with my life. This hyper-sensitivity over what to say during any holiday season is absolutely fucking ridiculous and incredibly selfish.

anartist's avatar

Eleanor Rigbys and other assorted grinches/bah-humbugs [usually lonely].

BarnacleBill's avatar

Happy Holidays is the “Have a nice day” of December.

Jude's avatar

@all listen to @blondsjon :)

graynett's avatar

SAY Thank you! (and then shut up) fixes all attitude of criticism or compliments

chelle21689's avatar

glad to know that I’m not the only one that thinks this is completely ridiculous.

Trillian's avatar

Why do people fuss if you say “Merry Christmas” to them? That happens on both sides of the fence. I’ve said both, not really planning what was going to come out of my mouth and so far have not had a negative response from anyone for anything. Is it worth arguing about? Life is too short.

Sunny2's avatar

I think the reasons people react this way is thoroughly discussed above. In reacting to them, wouldn’t it be fun to throw a great big mea culpa? “Oh I’m so sorry! I never meant to offend you! Please forgive me! What can I do to make amends? I never realized you were so righteous about this. Please tell me what I can do. May I say, Happy New Year? How about Valentine’s Day? Do you have a preferred greeting for Easter? Are you offended by Halloween? etc. etc.” They’d probably never speak to you again. Would that be such a loss?

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

Because of God. Our Faith.
But. If we’re the real deal, we can QUICKLY overlook the comment as opposed to being judgmental.
Afterall, it’s you HH people missing out not us Christians anyway ;)
And being pissed and offended sure won’t make you WANT to become one of US now would it ;)

So ya- I totally agree…and so called Christians can be some of the most judgmental out there.

Unless they’re the real deal. Then they know better.

Merry Christmas ;)!!

LuckyGuy's avatar

“Happy Holidays” works for me. It’s inclusive and last time I checked Christmas and New Years are both holidays only a week apart.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I agree with @Blondesjon. I am so damned sick and tired of people bitching about words. If you don’t want to tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, then so be it. But don’t expect me to keep my mouth shut just because you’re some pissy, overly PC asshat.

I will Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays you to death!! Why? Because this is my favorite time of year, and I love Christmas shopping with a Starbucks Vanilla Latte in one hand and my checkbook in the other! I love driving around with my kids and looking at Christmas lights, I love sitting in front of a beautiful fire and drinking spiked eggnog, I love wishing for snow on Christmas day, I love watching my kids tear into their goodies with bright happy faces!

So I’ll be damned if I’ll allow anyone to ruin it for me by being PC and rude and telling me what I should or should not say! If I’m passing you on the street and a “Happy Holidays” flies out of my mouth or if I’m behind you in a checkout line at the store and I randomly say “Merry Christmas” to you, just smile at me and know that I’m saying it because I’m happy and I want you to be happy too, and go on about your cranky ass business!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Thank you! I’m usually very happy this time of year and I hate it when PC dickheads try to ruin it for me!

Crossroadsgrl's avatar


The question is, lol, how are you the rest of the time?

Merry Christmas

( asshat did make me laugh a bit though )

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Crossroadsgrl Thanks, I like that word, it’s fun! =0) And I have a lot of bitchy moments because of a chronic illness, but when it’s Christmas, almost nothing can get me down.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

Fair enough ;)

Asshat . Yes . It IS fun.

snowberry's avatar

Actually saying “Happy Holidays” has become very politically correct. I hate politically correct. Otherwise I wouldn’t care. It doesn’t bug me much when my Jewish friend says it, because I understand where she’s coming from. But I hate hearing it in a store, because it’s what the employees have been told to say, and it’s not a reflection of what the person saying it actually believes.

downtide's avatar

@snowberry I think the political correctness about this is nonsense. In the UK people use “Merry Christmas” regardless of whether they’re religious or not and nobody who isn’t Christian ever takes offense. So why is it that in the UK where more than half the population are non-Christian, does it not matter, and in the US which is nearly all Christian, they get upset about it? I don’t understand it.

snowberry's avatar

@downtide Well that’s the way it used to be ln the US. But now since nobody wants to hurt someone’s feelings (and sometimes risk a lawsuit) they are enforcing it in business. At least that’s what I think.

flutherother's avatar

Like @downtide says we don’t hear “happy holidays” here at all. We have quite a rich variety of Christians, pagans, Buddhists, Muslims Jews and Sikhs but in my experience they all say “Merry Christmas” at this time of year. “Happy Holidays” wouldn’t sound right.

holli's avatar

@downtide – I imagine some people retaliate for being condemned by the majority for so long by rejecting a largely Christian holiday. Balance.

downtide's avatar

@downtide but that’s just it. I don’t think people here are condemned for rejecting a Christian holiday. It’s regarded as a mainly secular thing here anyway. So I don’t think there would be anything to retaliate against.

Scream1's avatar

I think it’s pretty stupid that they did that. They’re making a deal out of something as simple as a greeting. Annoying.

I think some Christians(I am one) do that because in the bible, it says that if anyone doesn’t believe in God, then they will burn in the lake of fire. I think that’s harsh, honestly. I mean, what the heck? There are plenty of reasons why people don’t believe in him. They were raised not to, they just want to be in the friendlier religions, they want some spirituality(voodoo), etc. Either way, they have good intentions. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t believe in God(no offence), I just think it’s too harsh, but it is what it is. I completely respect their reason of being whatever they are. I think some Christians are too tensed about it. Come on, just as long as you believe in Christianity and God, isn’t that all that matters? That’s true faith in your religion. Am I right?

Honestly, I think some Christians are too heated about it. Complaining about something so dumb is just unnessasary.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Just do what I do and tell everyone “Bah Humbug” and go on my merry way.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Well the thing to realise here, is that the United States is a secular nation. It is not one nation under any God. It may be a Christian majority still, but the United States has no national religion. Its right their in your constitution, very clearly.

I’m from Ireland and we generally don’t say “happy holidays”; but I don’t see it being offensive. Its no different from me saying goodbye to a person with “take care”, instead of the usual “God bless” that Catholics like to say.

Jaxk's avatar

I think you’re missing the point. There is nothing offensive about saying ‘Happy Holidays’. There is also nothing offensive about saying ‘Merry Christmas’. The problem is where people are mandated to say Happy Holidays due to political correctness. It is political correctness run amok and that’s what is driving the debate. I’d be interested to know if there are businesses in Ireland that dictate to you to not say Merry Christmas and if there were would you feel the same way.

Happy Holidays has been around for all of my life but nobody took offense to it until it started to become mandated that you not say Merry Christmas. That’s when it became an issue.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Jaxk I know that it was coined for political correctness. This only makes the entire situation of those companioning about the use of the phrase “happy holidays” very ironic. Because from their point of view, those using the phrase are not being politically correct.

Are people really mandated to say happy holidays though? I would of thought it was a personal choice based on your own preference.

I have worked for quite a few retail companies over the years and we have never been given specific instructions to how to well wish customers over the month of December. I’ve simply told most customers “take care” or “have a nice weekend” etc. As I normally would at any other time of year. But sometimes I will say “happy christmas” as I don’t see it as an issue. I think we may have had one Muslim complain about it, but other than that most people know that no ill intentions are meant by it.

Jaxk's avatar

Yes, Walmart was one of those back in 2006 (I believe) that mandated shoppers be greeted with ‘Happy Holidays’. There was a backlash from customers and they stopped. Frankly people are sick and tired of the push for political correctness and the backlash is just as overblown as the push for political correctness.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Jaxk While I don’t agree with forcing people to use happy holidays, I can understand where they are coming from as a company. America is very multicultural, so it makes sense to use a more universal term. Yes it is political correctness gone over the top, but they are a business and don’t want to loose customers.

Jaxk's avatar

So you can understand people being offended by Merry Christmas but not being offended by the deliberate deletion of Christmas. Walmart changed the policy because they were losing business with their politically correct mandate.

NerdyKeith's avatar

I can understand why they are upset, but I also think they need to realise that corporations don’t have to cater to a religion (especially when they are not affiliated with one).

I can only imagine their faces if they were told “Happy Ramadan” during the Muslim fasting.

Jaxk's avatar

Christmas was enacted into law as a national holiday in 1870. That is the holiday. If you try to please everyone, you will typically cause more problems than you solve. Frankly I wouldn’t have any problem with Happy Ramadan, it doesn’t offend my delicate sensibilities. I still reserve the right to reply with Merry Christmas.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Fair enough

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