Americans still prefer 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Holidays'
December 24th, 2011
10:26 AM ET
3 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. Ahmed

    I am Muslim American and I don't get converted, if I say M.Xmas. Those of U don't like to call it M.Xmass don't go to Mall and take advantage of low price. I earned my Degree and eventually earned my Citizenship like many others and before I came to this country; I knew it is Christian dominated country and it is ok to celebrate Cristmass and some of my christian friends come to my house in Eid and enjoy food along with other festival. If your religion is that weak that you'll get converted by saying Merry Xmass then try other religion, we'r talking application.

    December 24, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. Jeffer65

    Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to everyone.

    December 24, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. haloguy628

    It's time to end the rabid destruction on traditions and end this morass where minority is always dictate to the majority down to the smallest of issues.

    You want to claim that you are harmed and offended, then prove it with tangible evidence. Otherwise shut up and practice common sense.

    December 24, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. joe

    Leave Christ in Christmas.........I'm so disgusted with all the liberal a–holes!

    December 24, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. John from Canada

    My solution: "Merry Christmas, if that is your holiday, if not 'Happy Holy Days', and if you are an atheist . . . good luck with that." Richard Dawkins? Good luck with the gene pool.

    December 24, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. TommyTT

    Merry Christmas doesn't do anything for me, since I'm Jewish. But I'm genuinely grateful when someone says "Happy Holidays" to me. That means I'm actually included in the greeting and that someone is taking the care to respect who I am and not just smugly assume that their own religion is the center of the universe.

    December 24, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. Bill

    There's a time and place for either of the greetings; Merry Christmas works when you know they're basically Christian-oriented and observe the day/season as such, Happy Holidays is fine for all others. What's the mystery in this...it's called good manners and good taste.

    December 24, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Jimbo

    The universal greeting is "BAH HUMBUG" which transcends all cultures.

    December 24, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Keith

    Unlike Fox, I see no reason to be anti-Semitic and insulting to Hanukkah. Therefore HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

    December 24, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. secutor

    Allright, allright. Just don`t wish anything to anybody, please. Schöne Festtage.

    December 24, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. R.Williams

    The people I've seen in real life getting upset are the people who insist it has to be Merry Christmas and get bent out of shape because someone might have said Happy Holidays to them. Maybe if some of these people cared as much about Christ the rest of th4e year...

    December 24, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  12. John from Canada

    HAPPY HOLY DAYS! And that includes Judas Maccabeus and his sometime Greek foes (now Greek orthodox Christians, glad to embrace Jews as friends). If you are atheist . . . good luck with your hollow days, but don't begrudge me for pronouncing the "o" as a long vowel. If you do, it is your intolerance, not mine. And, yes, it matters that "days" is plural. Hannukah and Christmas are both included.

    December 24, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  13. Jimbo

    "bah humbug".

    December 24, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. James Ruston

    This is an issue why? I guess because Fox News and some fundamental Christians made it so. Thanks for nothing.

    December 24, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Roger B.

    Now that Jews, in the U.S., have managed to inject their religion and symbols in to the Christmas celebration; what next?
    Easter perhaps. Instead of Egg hunting at the White House; can we expect patato rolls hidden in yamaacas. Or substitue the Easter Bunny with Piglet in robes.

    December 24, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. Manny

    Merry Christmas is what it is. If some don't like then move on or move out. They can keep their Happy Holidays to themselves for all I care..

    December 24, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. JacsinJax

    As a former Christian, I say Happy Holidays and what I get back is serious hostility and anger. Let's see the Pilgrims outlawed Christmas and fined anyone who said Merry Christmas. And the founding fathers work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So to all you Christians who want to believe that America was founded on the belief that Christmas is a holy day get your facts straight and stop bullying me when all I'm doing is wishing you well whatever you believe.

    December 24, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. Ralph_Indy

    Folks like Bill O'Reilly and other right wing pundits on orders from the Republican propaganda machine yelll about this because it fires up the right wing yahoos, gets them all angry at anyone not extreme right wing and doesn't cost the Republican ruling class a darn thing.

    December 24, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. skygeek

    "Happy Holidays" has been a common expression in this country at least since I was born, and I'm 51. It's been a commonly used expression, understood as a combined well-wish for both Christmas and NEW YEARS holidays. By reporting this inane poll CNN has bought into the false notion constantly peddled by Fox News that using 'Happy Holidays' denigrates the celebration of Christmas. Pathetic, CNN.

    December 24, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  20. Criminy

    Merry Christmas everyone!
    Have a happy and healthy New Year!!!

    December 24, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. donnjuan

    "Happy Holidays" has been a common expression in this country at least since I was born, and I'm 51. It's been a commonly used expression, always understood as a combined well-wish for both Christmas and NEW YEARS holidays. By reporting this inane poll CNN has bought into the false notion that using 'Happy Holidays' denigrates the celebration of Christmas.

    December 24, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  22. The Dude

    I say Merry Christmas because the people who feel they need to buy gifts prefer it, and I want gifts.

    December 24, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  23. EatRunDive

    How you greet someone for the holidays should acknowledge THEIR faith, not your own. If you know that someone is Christian, by all means wish them Merry Christmas. By that same token, if you know that someone is not Christian, wish them Happy Holidays.

    What it comes down to is why are you greeting them. A greeting should be magnanimous. If it’s all about YOU, it’s not worth much anyway.

    December 24, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. donnjuan

    "Happy Holidays" has been a common expression in this country at least since I was born, and I'm 51. It's been a commonly used expression, understood as a combined well-wish for both Christmas and NEW YEARS holidays. Now there's a false notion that using 'Happy Holidays' somehow denigrates the celebration of Christmas.

    December 24, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. wharf0rat

    Let's keep the "happy" in happy holidays.

    December 24, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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