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. Vance

    What drivel...sheeeesh.....

    December 24, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  2. Bribarian

    Happy Holidays is one of those PC/Jew attacks on christmas

    December 24, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. malabar

    @ wilma wonka, hahahahahahahahaha WORD!, Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. barry

    To: Lise Quinn

    You either need professional help, or you just got dumped by your boyfriend. Merry Christmas.

    December 24, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Ron

    Who cares? Say what makes you happy, and quit worrying if others say something you wouldn't say. That's why we're individuals. So....Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or Jolly Wakka Wakka Woo.

    December 24, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. Fearfighter1

    People are full of it!!! if you think of the word holiday you are actually wishing someone a Holy-Day! The word holiday derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form holiday.. People need to chill out and be thankful someone takes the time to wish you well regardless if they say Merry Xmas or Happy Holiday...

    December 24, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Great comments, very respectful, for me it don't matter what I say, I have never been asked not to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holiday's". It's the season for crying out loud. Now, if I know that the person that I'm speaking to is from another culture or ethnic, I usually ask them what would be proper. Lot's of times they will share will me and I would learn something new without "offending" anyone.
    Now to the comment made by WIREWEIRDINSF: Get a LIFE, Take your Med's and leave the comments to respectful people. Wow, you only read that $4 millions dollars are being spent on the President's vacation to Hawaii. You have no proof, but what you chose to hear from this wicked media people. That tells the rest of us, that you are very IGNORANT, PREJUDICE and certainly DUMB! Merry Christmas to you....

    December 24, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. Fearfighter1

    Holiday actually means Holy-day! People can be so ridiculous at times...

    December 24, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. mshawaii808

    Great comments, very respectful, for me it don't matter what I say, I have never been asked not to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holiday's". It's the season for crying out loud. Now, if I know that the person that I'm speaking to is from another culture or ethnic, I usually ask them what would be proper. Lot's of times they will share will me and I would learn something new without "offending" anyone.
    Now to the comment made by WIREWEIRDINSF: Get a LIFE, Take your Med's and leave the comments to respectful people. Wow, you only read that $4 millions dollars are being spent on the President's vacation to Hawaii. You have no proof, but what you chose to hear from this wicked media people. That tells the rest of us, that you are very IGNORANT, PREJUDICE and certainly DUMB! Merry Christmas to you....

    December 24, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Marla

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
    Since I have friends who are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists, I prefer to be all-inclusive. This country is a melting-pot and I think that it is right that we include all in our greetings.

    December 24, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. Chris

    As a former Christian and ex-minister, I was born on Christmas, and though I'm not a believer (in the myth of Santa or the myth of Christ) I still say "Merry Christmas". . . to those who say it to me. To include everyone, especially in a pluralistic, secular nation, I prefer to say "Happy Winter" or just "Peace." Those who arrogantly and ignorantly insist that everyone has to believe what they believe and say what they say. . .all I can say to them is, "Peace." (to stir up conversation it may be educational to ask the "Defenders of Christmas" what the Bethlehem Baby and his parents would say).

    December 24, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. Jon

    As usual we make a mountain out of minor semantics. When I wish someone Merry Christmas, it does NOT mean that I wish you Jesus Christ, or I wish you the whole Christmas-tree-and-eggnog-and-yule log thing! It doesn't even mean I wish you CHURCH. None of it. It means – enjoy the freakin' holiday. That's all. And unless you are actually WORKING tomorrow (Sunday) then it IS your holiday, is it not? You don't have to be a Christ follower to enjoy the freakin' holiday. So Merry Christmas, whatever your affiliation. Get over yourselves and enjoy the freakin' day.

    December 24, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. SMM

    Happy Holidays has been around as a greeting for at least fifty years. It was meant to cover both Christmas and New Years. As a bonus, it could be used for people who don't celebrate Christmas. After all, Christmas is a national holiday, not just a religious festival. Let's try to keep our sense of proportion.

    Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays to all.!

    December 24, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  14. Hardtalk

    CNN! Who cares. It's trivial. Practice true journalism. This is superfluos, totally innecesary. You sound like inciters.
    Just shut up and inform real news!

    December 24, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. jms58

    I never stop to think and use both greetings as well as simply "have a nice day".

    December 24, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Yeah, and no posts by atheists are being posted. Merry friggin Saturday. I dare CNN to post.

    December 24, 2011 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Dave

    And...once again, religion does more to divide people than it does to bring people closer together.

    December 24, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. mfx3

    I could care less about the "Christ" part. If I know you celebrate Christmas, I'll wish you Merry Christmas. If I know you celebrate something else, I'll wish you a very happy one of those. If I don't know what you celebrate, it's Happy Holidays. This debate is idiotic.

    December 24, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. Jake

    Tonight and tomorrow, it's Merry Christmas. All other days, Happy Holidays. Technically Hanukkah is going on right now though...

    December 24, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. cmsusaf68

    There is no "War on Christmas", just some folks wanting to pick a fight. The word "holiday" is actually derived from the words "Holy Day". Look at it another way, for most Americans the Mass has been out of Christmas a long time, as in the original meaning Christ's Mass. For those wishing to retain the old time religion, the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas nor Easter, since neither are mentioned in the Bible.

    December 24, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. wharf0rat

    Let's keep the "Happy" in Happy Holidays!

    December 24, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. Ironsides

    Are you kidding me? People are making an issue out of what? No wonder half the population acts like 3rd graders.
    Are there any adults in the room yet?

    December 24, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  23. Tony in Maine

    Happy Winter Solstice would be more accurate. Early Christians chose Dec. 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus because it was already a holiday celebrating rebirth. With the new calendar the date is now the 22nd, but Christians kept the 25th – not because it was historically accurate, but because it was historically convenient.

    To my Christian friends Merry Christmas,, to those I know and like who practice Judaism, Happy Hanukkah, to those I don't know, Happy Holidays.

    December 24, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. Pete/Ark

    For the first 50 years of my life I loved the Holiday season...then I took a job in the retail sector...now all I can say is "BAH HUMBUG !". Reality sucks...but I can try to ignore it for two days..."don't worry,be happy"

    December 24, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. Tony T

    Same stupid commercial charade every year.

    December 24, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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