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. JAN

    if someone address me first then i repeat back to them what they said and if i am the first to speak i say whichever of the phrase comes out of my mouth at the time;i realy don't think about it !!!!!!!!!

    December 24, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Tony T

    Same commercial charade every year.

    December 24, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. Tony T

    It's one big commercial joke.

    December 24, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. Fred

    If you say Happy Holidays, I'd say Merry Christmas! .... we're even

    December 24, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. Rusty Rastelli

    It's one big commercial joke.

    December 24, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  6. Michael

    My friends and I prefer "Season's Greetings". Why were we not represented in this poll??? It's outrageous!

    December 24, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. Rusty Rastelli

    More important is how we respond to the greeting.

    My response is "No, thank you"

    December 24, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Penguin

    The absolutely last thing Christ would want is a bunch of idiots whining and complaining and getting their panties twisted that we're not using his name enough.

    You so-called "Christians" out there exercised about this issue are the farthest thing from followers of Christ possible.

    December 24, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. Larry L


    "Sick of republican phonies" l don't know what it is about you but I just have the desire to kick you in the balls and stomp on your neck. "
    This sure makes me want to become a CHristian...

    December 24, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. Jeff Sullivan

    I love Christmas, but so many other celebrate their own traditions and holidays this time of year, so isn't it wonderful to say 'Happy Holidays' thereby including everyone?!

    December 24, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. Balls McGhee

    If you want Christ in Christmas to remain pure to the day Christ was born, then remove Santa, the Tree, and the gifts since those were never a part of Jesus's birthday (nor is December 25th Jesus' birthday either.) Santa, trees and presents are secular ideas added to the religious holiday which we non-believers are free to do without having to go to church.

    December 24, 2011 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  12. Todd

    Is this really a news story? Is this really a political story. I am a liberal Jewish Atheist and have no problem with Merry Christmas, and I suspect that most people really don't care either.

    December 24, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. bigdog660

    Merry Christmas to all, and have a blessed New Year! As previous posters have said, if you have a problem with that, get over yourself.

    December 24, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  14. ren

    so are we supposed to ask people what their religious preference is before we greet them? am i required to know all of the potential greetings? bull, if somebody says that they are offended when I say merry xmas I tell them that I am offended that they are offended. if you don't like it then next time I'll just tell you to f off.

    December 24, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. News

    Coming from an Agnostic, there is war on Christmas and comes from the PC Liberals........

    December 24, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. Deephaven

    I'd like to see all of our deeply felt religious traditions separate from the general fun and frivolity that goes back a LOT farther than Christianity. Sadly, a lot of Christians simply do not take their religion very seriously. Should "Christmas" be associated with a year end party where everyone gets drunk just as it's associated with a religious celebration? Do there need to be "Merry Christmas" signs up in stores where customers are trampling and pepper spraying other other customers on Black Friday? Frankly, I think it would mean more if everyone used "Merry Christmas" more sparingly, but really MEANT it. It was never intended to be a label slapped on everything that happens in November and December.

    December 24, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  17. Sam00300

    It's simple. Just say Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays. Everyone is happy. Well, at least most people. Besides, saying Merry Christmas means have a joyous time of year. It doesnt automatically mean someone is pushing religion on other people.

    December 24, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  18. Christmas/Holiday Spirit?

    Here's the important question: Why are we talking about this?

    People, its not about the words that are said, it is about the meaning that is behind them, and ALL of the holidays (religious or secular) that fall in December all have a spirit of camaraderie, family, and kindness to all. It doesn't matter WHAT people say, but rather the meaning behind it all is the same. Be happy that you are free to choose what to say anyway. Far too many people in the world have no choice.

    December 24, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. ethandy

    Yeah, whatever. How about being good for GOODNESS sake? Happy Christmas!

    December 24, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  20. Don

    Isn't it more important to wish people good will than get politics all messed-up in this? I feel like there is a language police looking over our shoulders, rather than a citizen enjoying a holiday.

    December 24, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  21. Wage worker

    I don't care what religion you are. if you are having a day off with family because of that, show some respect and appreciation. Otherwise, go back to work and tell your boss you don't celebrate Christmas.

    Afterall, Merry Christmas

    December 24, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  22. Jamie

    This is a completely media-manufactured controversy: Say what makes you happiest! You're wishing someone well. As long as you're not sending an overtly religious card (insensitive and pushy) to someone who does not share your beliefs, they should accept the spirit of your greeting.

    Stores have a right to advertise in a way that welcomes every customer – they are addressing the public. The Christmas militants need to get over seeing "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Kwanzaa" and "Season's Greetings" alongside of "Merry Christmas in a commercial setting. Otherwise, understand that someone is wishing you peace and happiness, smile and say "Thank you." Say "Happy Dwaali" back to them, if you want. We have more important issues to concern us.

    Media, how about knocking off this false controversy and focusing on what matters?

    December 24, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  23. navin johnson

    War on Xmas! yeah..I'm locked and loaded and ready for huntin' some reindeer!

    December 24, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  24. B

    Don't say Happy Holidays you subversive subservient fools. I dont care if I am greeted with Happy Hanuka or Merry Christmas, hearing any kind of a welcome message from a stranger would be brilliant. I am not going to cry if I was wished a blessing for something other than my own religion and neither should you! Good will towards man should not be subjugated to the censorship of a specific religion or fear there of, it should be embraced. Bottom line, if you say Happy Holidays, you are afraid to accept who you are in reverence to you own beliefs, likewise if your offended by someone elses greeting or well wishing of their own religion, your a complete ass.

    December 24, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  25. Surfer George

    I'm 62. When I was a kid, I remember Democrats AND Republicans saying "Season's Greetings" without any problem.
    Since Republicans bring this kind of junk up, I have to believe that THEY are the ones who have a burr in their saddles over this Christmas/XMas/Happy Holidays/Season's Greetings stink.

    Find something important to complain about and just be glad that people bother to acknowledge you at all, EVER!

    December 24, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
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