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How do you say Merry Christmas?

Blue Christmas lights and treeIt’s November and that means we’re heading into Christmas – and for many businesses, creating Christmas-related content and other planning and preparing is already well underway as selling Christmas comes before the actual date.


In a multicultural world, should we say Merry Christmas?

Most of us don’t want to offend those who don’t believe in Christmas. Yet that shouldn’t have to mean we can’t acknowledge and celebrate it with those who do believe in it.

In countries like Australia, Christmas is an important part of our year – so many family gatherings and end of year events get caught up with Christmas and the start of summer. We have national a holiday for Christmas Day and Boxing Day – for many, that translates into a week off between Christmas and New Year Day, too, even if you are not Christian.

And kids get excited by it – whether they are Christian believers or not – so it’s pretty hard to ignore.

How businesses can say Merry Christmas

‘Happy Holidays’ doesn’t work too well – Americans talk about Christmas as a holiday more than we do, and not everyone takes Christmas holidays (it’s often a very productive time to work because it’s quiet!)

‘Seasons greetings’ is a little formal to my mind, but it works by acknowledging what’s going on without mention of any religion (ie Christ in Christmas) – and can incorporate Hanukkah and Ramadan which are often close to Christmas anyway.

I’ve seen businesses try a ‘Happy New Year’ or “Hope the year ends well for you’ approach which is well intended but perhaps misses something so loses the impact. It is a good way for non-Christian businesses to give their Christian customers good wishes without compromising their own beliefs and values.

Jenni Ridyard expresses some great views in a recent blog post about giving Christmas wishes.

I like the idea of ‘we wish our Christian customers a Merry Christmas’ – it is politely directed at the relevant people so others can ignore it.

At the same time, I am not offended by signs that say ‘Happy Chinese New Year’ or ‘Happy Ramadan’ so maybe we just have to accept cultural or religious greetings for what they are – an acknowledgement of someone’s beliefs and good wishes to all.

Now is the time to be thinking of your Christmas greetings, so what will you say to customers and suppliers in general? Will you change the message for specific people?


* image courtesy of 123rf

10 Responses to How do you say Merry Christmas?

  • KennyK says:

    Here in my country, businesses just say Merry Christmas or wish people good holidays, even if they know that not everyone celebrates at that time of the year and not everyone has days off. But groups who don’t celebrate Christian holidays aren’t really offended, as they understand it’s part of tradition and if they’re integrated in our society they often say thank you and wish people a good end of the year, even if they don’t attach any special meaning to that time of the year.

    • tashword says:

      I think that’s the same for the majority in Australia, Kenny, and certainly most of us do say Merry Christmas with warmth not disrespect to others.

      Considering other options may be good business sense/marketing or it may be political correctness gone too far – I think it probably depends on the audience and how it is expressed.

  • PubD says:

    I generally just say Merry Christmas. I’m an atheist, and if I can deal with it, so can anyone on the receiving end. None of my clients are particularly fanatical about that sort of thing. If I knew one was, I’d probably alter my message for them.

    • tashword says:

      That’s the key, I think PubD – knowing your audience and ensuring you don’t offend them. Many Christians obviously see Christmas as a religious occasion and celebrate it that way, some even resent a lot of the modern trappings, but I think many more people see Christmas as something separate to religion and a time of harmony and sharing.

  • GaryG says:

    Our family has always used “Happy Holidays!” I’m not sure when it started, but it feels natural to me and I’ve never had an issue with it. I think that at this time of year, people are getting into the spirit of the season and aren’t very particular about how you express yourself in that regard. I personally don’t know anyone who gets offended by any particular holiday greeting.

    • TashWord says:

      I personally don’t know anyone like that either, Gary, but I have certainly read pieces that indicate some people are offended. I just ignore a message that has no meaning to me rather than being offended someone else has that need/belief, and can’t relate to getting upset but some people are very sensitive about their religious beliefs and possible persecution.

  • vida_llevares says:

    In my case, ‘Merry Christmas’ would still be the best greeting. I think this is more of a universal season of happiness, giving and sharing. 🙂

    • tashword says:

      universal season of happiness, giving and sharing

      I feel that way, too, Vida, but I guess the important question is whether your clients feel that way – it comes back to knowing your audience and what will please and not offend them.

  • darkmeiji says:

    For people I know and I am sure celebrates Christmas, I just greet them Merry Christmas. However, for others, I just use Happy Holidays. It is a widely known word in my country so there is no problem in using this greeting. If somebody greeted me first before I do, I usually use the same greeting they use.

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