Americans still prefer 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Holidays'
December 24th, 2011
10:26 AM ET
6 years ago

Americans still prefer 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Holidays'

(CNN) - For many, it's an annual December conundrum - greet people with the traditional "Merry Christmas" or the secular "Happy Holidays"?

It's a small decision with seemingly oversized cultural significance, coming amid pressure to "keep Christ in Christmas" while also remaining inclusive of people who don't celebrate the Christian holiday.

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A new poll from Marist and the Knights of Columbus shows that nationwide, two-thirds of Americans prefer to go with "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays." There is a divide, however, between Americans living on the East and West Coasts, and Midwesterners and people living the South.

Fifty-six percent of Northeasterners and 57% of West Coasters said "Merry Christmas" was their greeting of choice. In the Midwest, 70% chose "Merry Christmas," and in the South 69% felt the same.

Older generations were also more likely to choose "Merry Christmas," while 50% of millennials (people ages 18-30) preferred to make merry with "Happy Holidays."

Americans over 65 overwhelming chose "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays," 74% to 22%.

The Marist-Knights of Columbus poll was taken by phone November 8-10 from 1,026 adults. The sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Polls • Religion
soundoff (337 Responses)
  1. Dave836

    Merry Christmas all! Oh I'm sorry, I guess I insulted some crazy people out there who take a phrase way too seriously. Oh well...

    December 25, 2011 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  2. Marty

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    December 25, 2011 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  3. AJsDaddie

    If I wish you a Merry Christmas, it doesn't imply that YOU are a Christian, only that I am. If you wish to respond with Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or even Happy Holidays, then I accept and embrace it. But it's just lame for anyone to try to stop me from saying Merry Christmas. Those who are uncomfortable because I am a Christian need some professional therapeutic help.

    December 25, 2011 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  4. Ted

    When you are in Rome, do as Romans do.
    "Merry chistmas" on Christmas, "Happy Hanukkah" on Hanukkah, "Happy Bairam" on Bairam, and so on.
    What's the confusion about?

    December 25, 2011 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  5. Steve Stoddard

    Merry Christmas!

    December 25, 2011 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  6. Sad for America

    So sad that this nation has to even begin to discuss such a thing. Glad my parents and grandparents did not have to live to see this pool of garbage this has become. Oh how the mighty have fallen!!! All the way from the president down, this nation is a sad shell of disgust. God help us!!!!

    December 25, 2011 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  7. Sad for America

    Since some folks demand nativity scenes removed from public places on Christmas, can we demand removal of Mt. Rushmore on Presidents day? Is that whats next? I mean all you new comers to this nation surely feel that those men wronged and offended right?

    December 25, 2011 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  8. TampaMel

    It is easy. If you know the person or people and they are all Christian you say, Merry Christmas. If it is a mixed group or the religion of the person or people you are talking to is unknown to you then Happy Holidays is probably best.

    December 25, 2011 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  9. Sad for America

    I actually wish that San Francisco has a very MERRY CHRISTMAS,, but I am not sure that is allowed there. I prefer to call that area Gods blindspot.

    December 25, 2011 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  10. Sad for America

    BTW CNN, Christmas is not for you.

    December 25, 2011 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  11. Ted

    When you are in Rome, do as Romans do.
    "Merry Christmas" on Christmas, "Happy Hanukkah" on Hanukkah, "Happy Bairam" on Bairam, and so on.
    What's the confusion about?

    December 25, 2011 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  12. Richard

    People talk about not "offending" others with the greeting "Merry Christmas." In our multi-ethnic urban societies there really are only two groups who oppose the greeting and whine about it: Hard-core atheists and the Jews.

    December 25, 2011 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  13. Noodle Nose Johnson

    Anyone who gets their panties in a bunch about someone saying Happy Holidays is so far removed from what Christ stood for that it's not even worth arguing with them. Happy Holidays to EVERYONE.

    December 25, 2011 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  14. Richard S. Russell

    Holy smokes, people. Not that hard. If you KNOW somebody is a Christian, say "Merry Christmas". If you KNOW they're Jewish, say "Happy Hanukkah". If you KNOW that they're Serbian, like my mom's side of the family, say "Khristos se rodi" (or "Joyeux Noël" or "Felíz Navidád" or whatever the ethnicity is). If you KNOW they're Wiccan, say "Blessed Samhain". If you KNOW they celebrate Kwanzaa, say "Joyous Kwanzaa". If you KNOW they celebrate Festivus, say "Happy Festivus".
    And in all other cases (that is, when you DON'T KNOW), go with "Happy Holidays" and you can't miss.

    December 25, 2011 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  15. A. Wolf

    The fact that a large proportion of our country believes choosing a religious greeting over a general one in order to bring favorable luck from invisible demons is a sign of the depth of absolute stupidity we are mired in. Around the world, people are suffering and dying, and you think your chosen GREETING is important to anyone but you? This holiday season I am grateful that I will never understand that sort of self-absorbed mindset.

    December 25, 2011 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  16. uukjg

    You notice the only people being hateful about it are the so called christians, a bunch of hipocrites! so much cor christian charity for the holidays. lol

    December 25, 2011 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  17. Anonymous

    It's Merry Xmas don't like too bad!!

    December 25, 2011 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
  18. Scottie

    Happy Yule! ...Merry Solstice!

    December 25, 2011 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  19. al

    haha atheists.

    December 25, 2011 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  20. margo ducane

    As much as some people will not admit , America is a Christian Nation. Merry Christmas should be THE greeting with a Happy Holiday as a followup.

    December 25, 2011 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  21. AJ

    I’ve composed a little Christmas song: It’s a cheery tune with character/costume changes ‘to boot’.HO, HO, HO! It’s simply about what Christmas means to me 🙂 Here’s the link: Hopefully, listening to it will put a smile on your face (or in your heart).

    December 25, 2011 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  22. Cincinnati Atheist

    Personally, I celebrate Christmas without making any attempt to keep Christ in it. I like to say "Merry Christmas" to anyone I think would like to hear it.

    December 25, 2011 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  23. Max

    I wasn't so concerned about it until the Christians started screaming on my fb that it's THIER holiday and it's CHRIST mas! Good. Great. Fine. They want to excluded everyone else... then we should change the national holiday to the Solstice Observed and let them keep their antiquated trinkets in their churches.

    December 25, 2011 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  24. Max

    I like Happy Holidays. It includes everyone and doesn't allow for one group to think they have dominance over everyone.

    December 25, 2011 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  25. Max

    Happy holidays!

    December 25, 2011 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
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