Seven Quick Reasons I Don't Have a Problem With "Happy Holidays"

by | Dec 18, 2014 | 7 Quick Takes, Advent, Catholic Living, Christmas, December | 34 comments

Every year, I see rabble rousing Christian websites trying to get folks to boycott businesses that use Happy Holidays in their advertising. Obviously, I support people’s right to do as they please with their own money. But as for me, I’m not a boycotter to begin with, and I think I like this particular boycott least of all. So, here are the seven reasons that I, as a God-fearing, Christmas-loving, Catholic, don’t have a problem with “Happy Holidays.”

1. It’s Accurate

There ARE many holidays around this time of year. Even if we’re just talking Christian-celebrated holidays (but more on that later) there’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, plus Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy, St. Andrew, and many, many, more. *I* want YOU to enjoy all of them: Happy Holidays.

2. It’s Catholic

The word “holiday” comes from the Old English. It means “holy day.” That’s what it means. *I* want you to enjoy all the holy days the liturgical year has to offer: Happy Holidays.

3. It’s Inclusive

But. They might say. BUT. That’s not what it means now. What it means now is, “a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.” Or, it’s something that people say to refer to ALL religious or pagan celebrations celebrated all over the world by people who are or are not Christian.

Annnnnd . . . I don’t have a problem with that.

I’m going to be honest with you guys right now. I have a secret agenda with this blog. I want to draw you in with parenting tips and Netflix recommendations and once you’re here, I want to also show you how much I love my Catholic faith and how I celebrate it with my family and how I think it makes my life a million times more rewarding in this world and will make it better beyond all imagining in the next. I want you to see that and I want you to want it for yourself. I want you, whether you’re a Catholic mom who wants to live her faith more fully, or a lapsed Catholic, or a Wiccan priestess, or an Episcopalian lady priest, or a militant atheist, or a Muslim in full burqa, or whatever, I want YOU to march down to your local Catholic Church and make some inquiries. Or at least email me some questions.

That’s what I want.

And I can’t for the life of me see how me insisting that the only acceptable greeting at this time of year is “Merry Christmas,” would help me do that: Happy Holidays.

4. It’s Business

And really, we’re talking about businesses anyway. Businesses who, understandably, would like to have customers from all faiths and walks of life. The nice thing about “Happy Holidays” is that, to ME it means one nice thing, and to someone else, it will mean a different, but also nice thing: Happy Holidays.

5. I Don’t Like Bullying

Big Christian Boycott wants to scare us. They want us to think that anyone who uses “Happy Holidays” is part of some secret government agenda against Baby Jesus. And it’s working. Seriously. It’s easy to just say, “I hope you’ll have a merry Christmas,” to people after church, but what if I don’t know what a particular person is celebrating? I, personally, never know what to say to anyone in the grocery store anymore.

I was out shopping on the first day of Hanukkah, days and days away from Christmas starting, but only hours away from Hanukkah starting, and I was paralyzed with indecision about how to greet people. Because I want people to have a happy whatever it is they’re celebrating. But I’m afraid if I say “Happy Holidays” someone will throw rocks at me.

But really, for general pleasant greeting of strangers in November and December, I think you can’t beat Happy Holidays. And I’m going to say it. Like Kevin in Home Alone, I’m not going to be scared anymore: Happy Holidays.

6. It’s Probably Liturgically More Appropriate Than “Merry Christmas”

It’s still Advent. It’s not actually Christmas yet. This article is a joke article from a fake news website, BUT IT MAKES A GOOD POINT: Happy Holidays.

7. But Let’s Not Get Carried Away, Now

I mostly think that, in general, we should worry less and love more, and not boycott people, and that getting upset about how we greet each other won’t bring us or them any closer to heaven.

I don’t think we as Christians should be scared of people saying Happy Holidays.

But, I’m certainly not saying we should avoid saying Merry Christmas. I’m called to Christian witness, and the Christmas season is a great time to evangelize people through generosity, and hospitality, and eye contact, and conversation at the grocery store, and saying Merry Christmas.

We send out Christmas cards that say Merry Christmas on them, even though they go out to friends who celebrate Hanukkah or nothing at all, as well as to friends who celebrate Christmas. And I have every intention of putting that Christmas card on this blog and wishing you a Merry Christmas, when the time for that comes.

We’ll be spending these last few days before Christmas, and then the whole Christmas season, inviting people into our home for parties, and appearing in public with many children, which are my two favorite ways to evangelize. I’ll say Merry Christmas whenever possible. I’ll say Happy Holidays when that seems more appropriate. But what I won’t be doing is spending my days boycotting anyone, or getting offended by holiday greetings of any kind, because I suspect that those are not good ways to evangelize.

In conclusion: Merry Christmas.

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for the last Seven Quick Takes of 2014!


  1. Kate

    Oh man, we don't (yet) have this kind of religious puritanism in Europe. I think you take no. 7 is such a short and yet substantive argument showing great difference between moralism and essence of Christianity (Catholicism) which is love (and consequently joy). Merry Christmas from far away 🙂

    • Sophie שרה Golden

      No, because we have Islam taking over Europe and/or stupid Anti-semites marching against synagogues.

      Kendra and all the people over the ocean, you are really lucky where you live and enjoy that 😀

  2. Wendy Klik

    Amen!! Alleluia, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Good Kwaanza. Happy Holidays. I cringe when I see people preach intolerance in the name of our Lord who was the most tolerant of any. Thank you for your convictions, your strength and your truth.

  3. Erica Saint

    Excellent post!! I don't like bullying either, and "worry less and love more" is advice everyone, Christian and non-Christian, needs to follow!

  4. Mandi

    Couldn't agree with you more, Kendra! Personally, I always say Merry Christmas because even those who don't believe are blessed by Christ's birth since He came for ALL of us and my Christmas cards are always very specifically religious. But I could care less what other people say. There is a spirit of kindness and love behind their holiday greetings, just as there is behind mine!

  5. Renee

    When my kids were young and I worked I had them an home-day care. My neighbor was from Haiti, and she would pronounce Holiday as Holy Day. Between my Boston accent and her Haitian accent I seconding guessing myself on which Holy Day other then Christmas and New Year, because she reference January 3rd as a HOLY DAY. But what she meant was they she not having daycare due to the holiday.

  6. annemcd

    (First of all, all I can hear in my head right now is Andy Williams…)

    How very Pope Francis of you! Banging people over the head with religion never converts people. Being patient, generous, loving, gracious… those are the things that resonate with people. Letting Jesus touch others through you is what brings others to Him.

    When I"m at the store and a cashier says, "Happy Holidays" to me around Christmas time, I'll usually answer with "Merry Christmas." Many people have smiled and returned the greeting to me.

  7. Laurel

    Yes. You can't take the 'holy' out of holidays! The efforts to be inclusive, well, are just being inclusive of more Christian holy days. Thanks, guys.

  8. Angela Bashaw

    Beautiful! Thank you for posting! I have felt this way for a few years. We need to show our Christian love and not in any way show anger or disrespect to others!

  9. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    I never understand when people get their nose out of joint over "Happy Holidays." I mean, it's a nice thing to say and I like it when people are nice to me.

  10. Amelia Bentrup

    Great points. I never understood the brouhaha over "Happy Holidays" And, I really just commented because I wanted to use the word "brouhaha" in a blog comment. 🙂

    • Kendra

      Kerfuffle is my favorite. But brouhaha is a close second.

  11. Molly Walter

    And really, shouldn't we be trying to make every day a Holy Day? 😉

    The second definition of "holiday" is an exemption from work, many people (no matter what they're religious affiliation) get an extra day or two this month as a "holiday", a vacation day, why can't we wish them a happy vacation day?

  12. Patty

    This is great Kendra!! I totally forgot that holidays comes from "holy days"…great post!!

  13. Jen H

    First time commenting here. Love this! Was just having a similar conversation with my husband.

  14. The Rufus Family

    This is a wonderful giveaway! While I would save your book for when my boys are a little older (they are 1 and 3), I would use everything else for my husband and myself. We are still learning 🙂

  15. NIcole Hough

    Oh my gosh…YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I a billion times agree. My son's doctor was Jewish and I always said to have a …Happy Holiday, mainly because I didn't know what was the "proper" thing to do. I then started to panic because that wasn't right either. Merry Christmas and Happiest of Holidays!

  16. Ken Jen Morrison

    My only issue with Happy Holidays is when retailers forbid their employees to wish people a Merry Christmas. That I think is wrong, I get that it's their business and they can do what they want, but I don't have to support it. Having said that, I do think way too much is made of Happy Holidays in certain venues…

  17. Heather Knox

    Number 3: it totally worked! Ha ha! I know this is an old post but I just had to throw that out there because it cracked me up. 🙂

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

➡️ Get my liturgical living checklist for free when you join my weekly newsletter. Sign up here.

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.