By Meghan Aslin
You’ve seen it on your mother’s Facebook. You’ve heard it from extended family members at the dinner table on Christmas Eve. The controversial question of which phrase is more appropriate during the holiday season is everywhere. So, which should you use?
Though both expressions seek to acknowledge the special time of year and wish others well, there are many arguments that fight for either the use of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” but in angrily arguing for either, we, too, are taking away from the peace for which we claim to be fighting. In the spirit of the holiday season, respect each other’s choices and maybe even learn why someone else thinks and speaks differently than you do.
The ever daunting internal question of whether “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” is a more appropriate festive greeting is on a lot of our minds this time of year. In an anonymous poll from sixty random St. Mary’s high schoolers, 70% said that they were more likely to say “Merry Christmas,” while 25% claimed “Happy Holidays” as their go-to phrase. Surprisingly, 5% stated that they asked whomever they were interacting with what their preferred holiday greeting was before saying anything.
The crazy thing about this poll is that it was just for fun. At first, I intended only to get a feel for how the majority of students felt and thought about it, but as I was collecting responses and hearing some of the reasoning behind the conscious choices that my peers had made, I realized that people have something personal that “backs up” their opinion. The most common reason for saying “Merry Christmas” has to do with the religious affiliation of the user. They want to celebrate and share their holiday celebrations with others. In contrast, the main reasoning behind using “Happy Holidays” has to do with social inclusion and wanting to make the cheeriness about the holiday season less about religion and more about enjoying the company of friends and family.
Regardless of your preferred phrase, it is safe to assume that everyone who shares these wishes means well, so we should all try to accept the greeting with the positive intention with which it was given.