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. lgny

    Enough already... Let people use whatever they want.

    It's silly for people to fight over what greeting to use.

    December 24, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. RCBinTN

    Merry Christmas to All.
    Happy New Year.
    Peace on Earth.

    December 24, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. S1N

    As an atheist, I have to say: who care's if you say Merry Christmas to everyone. It is one of our society's most widely celebrated holidays. I tell everyone Merry Christmas, and I don't even believe in Jesus! However, even in the absence of religion, the current meaning of the holiday (giving to others, spending time with loved ones, etc), Christmas is a wonderful time of year.

    Seriously, it's not like I'd be upset if someone told me Happy Hanukkah during Hanukkah. What's the big deal?

    December 24, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Uh... In the "Politics" section? Come on, man...

    December 24, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Laura

    I say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to cover both of the celebrations in December. Both holidays have wonderful traditions and life lessons to follow all through the year and I feel saying Happy Holidays doesn't give both of these celebrations enough credit.

    December 24, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. David

    Uummmm....... it's not a conundrum...... it's Merry Christmas.

    December 24, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Jack Spratz

    What triviality; U.S. is the place with the most stupid people in the world. Who could really care? I prefer Ba! Humbug! but you say whatever you want and I could not care less.

    December 24, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Sam

    Listen, as a Jew, I can report that I really don't care if someone tells me "Merry Christmas." I'd rather they just do that than say "Merry Christmas," followed hastily by "Oh, um I mean happy Hanuka, yeah and happy HOLIDAYS. Right, sorry." We're not going to get offended, so just say what you want. As long as you genuinely mean well no one will care.

    December 24, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Nate Guteras

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thankful for work to provide for my loved ones. May all be merry and bright in 2012.

    December 24, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Rob in MO

    It's a holiday, so have a happy one. Happy Holiday. If at the same time you want to indulge your favorite myths, go ahead.

    December 24, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. Jim

    I always thought happy holidays was meant to include two sayings. "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." Now that it appears it doesn't I'm happy to irritate all the aethiests with the saying "Merry CHRISTmas."

    December 24, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. Ht

    Even in the largest Muslim country Indonesia they celebrated this season as Christmas season. Why is that the United States of America needs to take the word Christmas out of this season? The atheist can pick a day or season to proclaim the atheist season or day as they wish n I believe Obama administration would allow it in a heart beat. How did we end up where we are right now! Merry Christmas to all n happy Hanukkah. Those those that that don't celebrate either one of them don't be a grinch.

    December 24, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. OnTheRoad

    People should just accept the greeting (which ever greeting they are given) in the tone that it is given! But, as we know there will always be some people that will only take it as an insult no matter what greeting they here.

    December 24, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Lost inTexas FOREVER and EVER

    I always felt that if someone said "Happy Holidays" they were including New Years along with Christmas and I had no problem with that. On Christmas Day I always say Merry Christmas. People make a big issue out of nothing if you ask me. Christmas, Hannukah, and now Kwanzza (I think it's the latter that really set some people off) all have meanings to those you celebrate them. This debate erases the true meaning of ALL the holidays.

    December 24, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. New Age Independent

    Merry Christmas! If you are offended by that, then it's your problem.

    December 24, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. creol

    Well this is America and it is called Christmas , so whats the problem? on Halloween we say happy Halloween . On Thanksgiving we say happy Thanksgiving , so its Merry Christmas here. If you live here and your offended then too bad, this is America and its called Christmas , not Holliday.

    December 24, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Indy

    Merry Christmas, Mery Christmas, Merry Christmas to everyone on here !!!

    December 24, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. irv

    who cares? with the world's problems we need a discussion of this b.s. what a joke!

    December 24, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. JP

    Wait a minute? How is this true? This isn't what the liberal media has been telling us.

    December 24, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. willie floyd

    If someone smiles at you and says Merry Christmas, even if you are not Christian, and you know they are wishing you happiness, what difference does it make??? Hope all of you have a happy, healthy, wonderful season-and I am a Christian. I hope you don't mind if I pray for those same things for everyone silently and in the privacy of my home.

    December 24, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. pattha

    I don't get what is so difficult about using either phrase. I think it is extremely interesting that in a nation that has a strong majority self-identifying, even though the vast majority of those self-identified Christians don't even bother going to church let alone make any effort to live a life based on Christian ideals all of a sudden every December gets in a tizzy over whether someone wishes them A Merry Christmas v. A Happy Holiday. In a world where most of the time people will do everything possible to avoid making any kind of contact with others in the public arena; I think it is just nice that for one period of time, that strangers are reaching out if only to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas to spread good will towards others. So whether someone says Happy Holiday, Seasons Greetings, or Merry Christmas I thank them for trying to be kind considerate human beings.

    December 24, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Surfer George


    Wishing you whatever kind of greeting that doesn't offend you...

    However, if THIS greeting offends you,

    BITE ME!

    December 24, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. demogal

    I like saying "happy holidays," but don't really see the big deal in all of this. It's simply a way of wishing others well, no matter what words are used.

    December 24, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. vic , nashville ,tn

    I always say "Merry Christmas” even my friends from other religions wish me "Merry Christmas"
    Our politicians and media see this as a big issue

    Merry Christmas every one

    December 24, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Bill Rugg

    MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!!!!! whats next ? "A very pleasant year ahead"

    December 24, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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