The Fear In "Happy Holidays"

Every year during December, someone says to me “Happy Holidays” and I cringe inside, knowing that this person has bought into a climate of fear.

We know that 80% of Americans are Christian and we know an even higher 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas. If the dominant American holiday during the month of December is Christmas, and the traditional way to wish someone well during this time of year is to say “Merry Christmas,” then why not say that? What are we afraid of? Worst case, 1 out of 20 people will take offense. It’s actually a much smaller number than that because the vast majority of the remaining 5% will not mind someone saying “Merry Christmas” if they know the person is just ignorant of their particular beliefs.

We’re wishing each other well, after all. We’re not hurling insults at someone by saying “Merry Christmas” but that’s the way many of us act. In a meeting the other day, I suggested that we adorn our company website with pictures of outdoor Christmas trees and snow for the month of December, and you would have thought I was advocating genocide! Three people almost immediately jumped on the idea as offensive to some employees. This is a climate of fear and hypersensitivity.

If you know someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas, then wish them well in the way they prefer, but please stop cowering in fear by wishing everyone “Happy Holidays.” It degrades everyone’s beliefs.

  • “a climate of fear and hypersensitivity”
    Or you could spin it the other way and emphasize being sensitive to others. Seems like a good thing, right?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “this person has bought into a climate of fear”

    Or perhaps they just want you to have a happy holiday… Christmas is arguably just one day or three at a stretch, so maybe some people say happy Christmas on those three days and happy holidays on the other days of the holiday. Or perhaps while 80 percent of Americans call themselves Christian, many (most?) are less devout than you, and so associate the holiday less with Christmas than you.

  • Christian beliefs must be remarkably fragile to be so easily degraded. Clearly it is you who is hypersensitive.