December 25th became an official Federal holiday in 1870 when it was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Americans have been officially “Merry Christmasing” for 149 years.
I decided to try and do some digging to find out if “Merry Christmas” was old-fashioned and out of style. What I found was a bunch of polls over the last couple of years that reflected that 66-67% of American Adults prefer Merry Christmas. 21% like Happy Holidays instead. 13% are undecided.
So what are you to do in your business holiday greetings?
As I do each year, I revisit this topic and share my point of view. Mostly because I do get emails from new readers every year asking me what is “appropriate”. I’m old enough to remember when you would just offer good wishes without thought or having to worry about being politically correct. What do politics have to do with wishing someone good tidings any way? I just wish we would stop politicizing everything…
If anything, based on what I’ve seen this year, I’ve had more strangers wish me a Merry Christmas when I’m out and about that in previous years. The number of business emails wishing me a Merry Christmas is most certainly on the rise. Just one person’s experience.
In researching for this article I did find some “predictions” that folks are becoming less religious intimating that “Merry Christmas” will go away. I certainly do not see an indication of that in my little world.
All the TV commercials or add papers stuffed into my postal box do not seem to indicate that either. Businesses alike seem to like “Merry Christmas” as greeting of good tidings and cheer. (The “reason for the season” conversation is a topic for another blog and post…)
Is Merry Christmas Offensive?
I guess maybe to some who look for ways to be offended. It seems there are folks who make a full-time job out of being offended now-a-days. But I get it — we do not want to offend anyone when it comes to our business communications, right?
I know my intent when wishing someone a Merry Christmas and I’ve decided to not worry about if they choose to be offended by my good wishes. Not my problem — it is theirs.
Are people really becoming offended or upset by a simple good wish of a Merry Christmas? I cannot find any sound documentation that reflects that. None of the folks I work with or communicate with are bent out of shape about it either. They are all busy “Merry Christmasing”!
In fact, if Happy Holidays is used it is generally not as a slam against Christmas, rather it is viewed to be a more inclusive greeting covering Hanukkah to Christmas to New Years and everything in between.
Don’t Be Afraid to Offer Good Wishes
All my life I have wished folks in person or in written cards and emails “Merry Christmas!” and I continue to do so to this day. Including my business emails. Not once have my actions been brought to my attention as not appreciated, nor have I alienated or lost a single contact by doing so. Every single email is responded back with a “Merry Christmas to you too!” — or just a “You too!”.
And, when I moved to the south over a decade ago, I can tell you that there is a heck of a lot of “Merry Christmasing” going on! Folks down here wouldn’t have it any other way! So, there is probably a regional aspect to consider as well.
I have had folks wish me a Happy Hanukkah over the years. I’m not Jewish and I was not offended nor did I feel uncomfortable with them doing so. They offered me a nice wish with sincerity. What could be wrong with that?
If I know someone’s preference, I do not hesitate to offer them specific greetings of the season. Or if I’m addressing a large audience, I use Happy Holidays! Not because I am trying to avoid offending anyone, rather I am trying to offer mass good wishes!
And with that, my friends, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!
Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.