What Does “Happy Holiday” Mean?


I was watching the preview for yet another Kirk Cameron “documentary,” and in it he made some comment about people saying “happy holiday” instead of “merry Christmas.” He then said “whatever that means.” Does he really not know what “holiday” means?

It doesn’t seem as though very many people do know what it means, because this debate happens every September through to December. People complain that Christ is being taken out of Christmas, and you should say “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holiday” or vice versa. It seems to me that people are just looking for an excuse to be mad. But it’s silly.

So let’s look at what “happy holiday” means. What is a holiday? That’s easy: it’s a holy day. So how, exactly, is saying “happy holiday” secular? Sure, it’s not merely recognizing one religion, but so what? We’re talking about western countries with a lot of different religions. Many of which celebrate holy days in December. So if someone says “happy holiday” to you, they are in fact recognizing the day as holy. They are just not assuming you celebrate one holiday over another.

“Merry Christmas,” however, ignores all but one of the many holidays. So, for those of you demanding that everybody say “merry Christmas,” are you really so selfish that you demand that everybody should pay deference to your holy day while ignoring the millions who do not celebrate your it? Why can’t you be happy with the acknowledgement that your day is in fact recognized as holy?

Personally, I grew tired of this issue long ago. None of the holidays are holy to me, and I certainly don’t recognize Christ in Christmas. I don’t need people demanding that I pay them any special heed. That’s why, when I was still working retail, I stopped saying anything about the season. Nobody complains if you just say “have a good day,” even on December 24. I did that for about 4 years and never got so much as a funny look. So if “have a good day” is acceptable, what’s wrong with “happy holiday”? And what exactly is all the fuss about?

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48 responses to “What Does “Happy Holiday” Mean?

  • Lisa

    Well being a Pagan I wish a lot of people happy holidays during December. Because so many types of religious beliefs celebrate differently at the end of year/ beginning of the New year ie Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Greek, Buddhist and so on. I believe holidays covers it. But leaving the word Christmas out of it is what changes the wording of offensive.

    Like

  • Foghorn The IKonoclast

    My favorite moments are watching ‘Scrooge’. I like redemption and humbleness.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Beth

    “One man esteemeth one day above another:another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it” (Romans 14:5-6).

    Liked by 1 person

  • lonoxiii

    What I think amusing is those who argue that saying “Happy Holidays” is taking the “Christ out of Christmas” probably practice a number of cultural behaviors that have nothing to do with Christ. From the usurped pagan traditions of Christmas trees, yule logs, exchanging presents, or Santa Claus… to the imagery and over-commercialization of the holiday starting in the 20th century. If these movements wish to put Christ back into Christmas, then I suggest they follow the Puritans and make it a quiet mass and feast… probably held on Jan. 6th.

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  • Chasing Worms

    Simple and well said. I tend to “mix it up” with what I say to people during the holidays. Sometimes it is Merry Christmas and other times it is Happy Holidays. There really is no thought process when it spews out my lips. I have many friends who celebrate Jewish holidays, Christian, Buddhism, and some who don’t celebrate at all. None of them get offended with the way I greet them, but I also consciously make an effort to wish them a ….whatever it is….on their own holiday they celebrate. However people wish to celebrate their beliefs is good. We get something we need from our beliefs and traditions we’ve developed throughout our life. The same is true for those who don’t have any belief in anything higher than themselves. I think it is all good.

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  • Ronnie

    Thats what is used to mean, now its used to refer to a festivity without work according to the english dictionary. A lot of Europeans use it anytime of the year to refer to their vacations. We should be using Merry Christmas so that it refers to Christ in which the whole day is all about anyways.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Not so much Christmas, is the pagan holiday the Catholic Church co-opted pagan holiday celebrating Winter Solstice, and the eventual coming of spring. I you want to celebrate Christmas go right ahead, but if you or someone else wants to celebrate Winter solstice, or celebrate not holiday in particular then that’s good too.

      Like

  • Cathy G

    “What is a holiday? That’s easy: it’s a holy day.”
    Depending on where you reside, a holiday is a day off, whether the day off is for religious, patriotic, or personal reasons such as a vacation. There may or may not be a religious reference. A holiday is then not necessarily the same as as holy day. Just sharing a slightly different viewpoint. Thanks. 🙂

    Like

  • Parker

    I’ve been handing out “Happy Holidays” cards for years in hopes that someone boisterous enough would dare challenge me as to why I wasn’t handing out “Christmas” cards.

    My response would be as minimalist as the cards themselves… “Because everybody is not like you.”

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  • Joanne Corey

    While I understand that the word holiday has its root as holy day, many of our holidays are now celebrated as civic/secular celebrations. I know quite a few people who celebrate Christmas for the food/social/gift aspects without any religious component involved. The “Happy Holidays” umbrella includes the (almost totally) secular New Year’s Eve/Day. I generally say Happy Holidays to people if I don’t know what holidays they observe and a more specific expression if I do.

    Like

  • Lydia Thomas

    Excellent thoughts. Even as a Christian, I’m really not sure why this is a debate, but I can imagine if you’re not religious at all, it must seem doubly (or triply) silly.

    Like

  • armondikov

    Usually, just “people are stupid” answers most questions like this.

    But there’s also a bit of molehill mountaineering about it – there’s little evidence to suggest the average people is actually pissed off about “Happy Holidays”. But the more vocal out there like to pretend otherwise, and the more vocal are, of course, louder than the rest.

    Like

  • siriusbizinus

    Living in the Deep South, I can say that saying Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays is basically another way to galvanize fundagelical Christians against secularism. The whole thing is done in ignorance and a conscious disregard for respecting all faiths with holidays in December. In short, it’s a great way to reinforce an artificial bias against people who don’t say “Merry Christmas.”

    For a few friends of mine who fell for that reasoning above, I started wishing them a Happy Hanukkah. When they got bent out of shape, I told them that’s what other people feel like when you get their holiday wrong. Although I don’t recommend it for everyone, it certainly is an effective reminder on why being respectful is better than being religiously correct.

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    • silenceofmind

      Sirius,

      The entire Western Hemisphere was settled by Christians.

      Christianity is our culture.

      The question is, why can’t people like you be tolerant of the culture that continues to give you so much?

      Like

      • ravensmarch

        I’m sure the diverse First Nations of North America are holding their collective breath awaiting the response to that question.

        Consider too, for a moment, that the person saying “Happy Holidays” is merely saving their breath and your time in not bringing forth, “Merry Christmas, Happy New year, and the same again later if you follow the Orthodox calendar!”

        Like

        • silenceofmind

          Raven,

          Hunter gathering cultures were replaced by agrarian and industrial cultures all over the globe over a period of thousands of years.

          And that process continues to this day.

          Blaming America for a natural social process is nothing but leftist propaganda.

          Like

      • ravensmarch

        Who blamed America? I should be interested how you square the fall of the Western Roman Empire (lately Christian, long-time agrarian and borderline industrial culture) collapsing under pressure from a load of hunter-gatherers, if it’s a natural social process. I also don’t quite see how Christianity is necessarily bound up in it, as China got pretty well along the agrarian/nigh-industrial path with its Confuscian/Buddhist/Toaist underpinning, and the Japanese leap into the industrial age was accomplished with very little reference to religion.

        Now, as far as the matter at hand goes, perhaps it might be noticed that whether someone is saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”, the underlying meaning is more generally “say, the weather sucks so badly just now that I want to share in the activity of cheering people up by wishing them well,” rather than some pro- or contra- statement regarding ones religious beliefs. That’s how I use it, because around Christmas, Twelfth Night, or the solstice, however one prefers to call it. The Hindus and Moslems in my part of the world (which is in North America) seem to use either phrase to the same purpose, because they care more about the fellowship of humans in the dark of the year and aren’t too contorted about the religious element.
        I don’t assume someone is trying to press Christianity on me with a cry of “Merry Christmas,” and I don’t see why people have to assume ill-intent from some other seasonal greeting.

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        • silenceofmind

          Raven,

          Rome fell because it had become corrupt and weak.

          Further, like the illegal aliens of today, barbarians on all sides of the Roman Empire were desperate for the good life that civilization affords.

          And like the illegal aliens of today, the barbarians contributed nothing positive to Rome and in fact were a cancer that ended the Empire.

          Like

      • siriusbizinus

        Silence of Mind,

        The Northern Hemisphere has non-human organisms in it.

        They have no culture.

        The question is, why can’t people like you be tolerant of the non-culture that gives you so much?

        Like

        • silenceofmind

          Sirius,

          Irrationality is not a response to the facts of history.

          You can’t make up and express idiocy and expect it to cut bate with reality.

          Like

          • siriusbizinus

            Silence of Mind,

            Don’t be silly. I was simply using the exact same argument as you were. Are you implying that your own words are idiotic and have little to do with reality?

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Sirius,

            You were not using the exact same argument that I was using since my argument is based on reality and yours, pure stupid idiotic nonsense.

            You can’t just puke vomit and call it eatable food.

            Likewise, puking out gibberish isn’t an argument.

            Like

          • siriusbizinus

            Silence of Mind,

            I’m glad we both agree puking out gibberish isn’t an argument!

            Since we’ve now established that both of our lines of reasoning aren’t arguments, I suppose we’re at where we started, which was my comment. I shall take this to mean that you agree with my implied assertion that people shouldn’t just assume everyone is a Christian and actually take the time to find out how to reasonably wish someone well in the month of December!

            I’m glad we’ve been able to reach this consensus, Silence of Mind! Good show!

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Sirius,

            You are trying and failing to use the converse of my argument.

            Before you can do that you have to make sure that your converse makes sense.

            The converse is taught in sophomore high school geometry,.

            You obviously failed the course.

            Like

          • siriusbizinus

            Silence of Mind,

            The converse is actually taught to advanced placement students in their freshman year of high school.

            If one is taught the converse correctly, then one would realize I did not use the converse, but rather an argument by analogy.

            Arguments by analogy are taught in college Intro to Philosophy courses.

            You obviously must have failed that course.

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Sirius,

            You did it again.

            You proved that you failed your studies.

            The converse is not true all the time.

            You need to be able to reason in order to determine if the converse of an argument makes sense.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            siriusbizinus, Silenceofmind (still the perfect name for him) has been watching far too much fox news. keep going if you feel the need, but he still seems to be only capable of stating assertions as though they where facts. He understand little to no history, definitely does not understand American culture as a wider entity beyond his Christan bubble thinking.

            btw your basically all immigrants, you know the American dream and all that. You basically like being xenophobic to your great great grandparents, it’s just that they’re brown so white people are scared of them 😛

            at this point I’d safe your breath, SoM simplely doesn’t understand how to make an argument, and how to defend one. He does however know how to type, and does so a great deal. This is a common problem on the internet.

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Teeth,

            I don’t watch TV.

            Try it sometime. You might just get your mind back.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            I haven’t watched TV in well over a year, you’re just not nearly a clever as you think you are ;).

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Teeth,

            If you haven’t watched TV who are you to complain about Fox News?

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Oh the occasional you tube clip running the gambit of what fox has to say and the young turk’s. Gotta get my news some how.

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Teeth,

            You have just classified yourself as a “low information” citizen.

            YouTube. Give us all a break.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            You have the most spectacular ability to spew forth meaningless drivel. The sheer inability for you to self reflect is staggering. You are a fascinating creature.

            Like

          • siriusbizinus

            Hey there! I’m aware of Silence of Mind’s style of argument, but this is the first time SoM actually engaged me. I apologize for taking this off topic, but I saw that someone else responded to one of his or her posts.

            I felt the urge to engage SoM with his or her own arguments so maybe others might not get bothered. I don’t normally tie up this much space on others’ blogs, and I understand if you need this silliness on my part knocked off.

            Like

          • silenceofmind

            Sirius,

            You didn’t engage me with my own arguments.

            That’s because stupidity is not an argument.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            oh no keep going then. no worries. I’d go back to being productive. 🙂

            Like

          • siriusbizinus

            Thanks! I’m done writing the post I wanted to write, so I’m off WordPress for a bit.

            Like

  • johnspenn

    I haven’t seen the documentary in question and don’t know the context, so I can’t speak directly to it. Is it possible KC was speaking directly to Christians?

    It would make sense then. Otherwise it is a silly thing to quibble about.

    Even as one who doesn’t recognize any “holy days” is it too far beyond the pale for you to recognize that there are others who do, and to express to them your desire that their “holy day” be enjoyable?

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Cameron is always speaking directly to Christians. but it still doesn’t make sense. If you know someone is Christian, fine, say ‘merry Christmas,” but otherwise why assume?
      Saying “have a good day” is more fair to everyone. Sure, many people celebrate holidays around December, but not everybody does. If I wish people a good day, it doesn’t matter what they believe because everybody wants their day to be good.

      Like

      • theoneinthedress

        If someone wishes me a happy Ramadan, I say “thank you” and leave. My lack of faith in their religion doesn’t suddenly mean that this observance disappears. It still exists, and I intend to be happy during it. So, thanks! I will later wish them a merry Christmas, because Christmas exists and I want them to be happy during the observation, whether or not they believe it has roots in a legitimate religion. Maybe they’ll just be happy to see some new lights dot the landscape. Maybe they’ll enjoy the lovely variety in belief systems around them. Maybe someone well-intentioned will give them a gift, and it can be appreciated as a means of human connection. It just is what it is, and it’s meant as a kindness.

        Like

      • johnspenn

        I typically say “Merry Christmas” as a greeting for that time of year. I do wish them all a merry Christmas, whether or no they are Christian.

        Conversely I don’t get offended by “Happy holidays” or “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Kwanza” or even “Have a good day”.

        Without seeing the documentary, I imagine KC’s point is that as Christians we are not supposed to hide our faith but to live it, and share it. “Merry Christmas”, especially in these days of political correctness. identifies the speaker as one who believes in “the reason for the season.”

        What confuses me is why you, a professing atheist, even bother watching “yet another Kirk Cameron “documentary”. Surely after seeing, presumably, previous documentaries he has made, you know what the subject matter is going to be. KC is unapologetically Christian. Why do you spend so much of your time watching his documentaries?

        Like

  • esse636

    language is so interesting hey. i go with happy holidays- cos it generally is holiday time here in the southern hemisphere. i know that people interpret that how ever they do- but it works for me.
    esse

    Like

  • silenceofmind

    There are many holidays, many of them not holy.

    Jesus, the Savior of mankind, must have his very own feast day.

    It’s a matter of simple respect to say the least.

    Like

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