With Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year right around the corner, it can be hard to find the perfect greeting to say to someone who you want to wish a happy holiday to, but have no idea their religious background or holiday preferences. Which phrases are okay? Is saying "Happy Holidays" the best solution to this issue?
In the extremely politically correct world we currently live in, the fear of offending others outweighs the spirit of the Holiday season. We would rather not offend than wish others well. Being Holiday specific is considered a crime. Unfortunately, many have already conformed to the "Happy Holidays" stigma. Major companies and corporations have become Holiday neutral, printing Holiday exclusive designs on their products and trying to incorporate all possible holidays into their agendas.
For example, earlier this year, the Starbucks corporation faced major backlash from debuting a green, unity cup in place of their holiday cups at the beginning of the Holiday season. Many were outraged that Starbucks would take such a neutral stance on holidays, replacing their classic red cups with a diverse, green cup. Shortly thereafter, Starbucks brought out their holiday cups for the current holiday season. But, take notice, they are called "Holiday" cups.
Other companies followed suit, printing "Happy Holidays" in Christmas colors, or using snowmen to convey a wintry, holiday theme. At Krispy Kreme, we have Santa Bellies next to Melting Snowmen mixed in with holiday, Christmas-colored sprinkles. And, at some of the local grocery stores, they have snowmen printed on the plastic bags, wishing all shoppers a happy holiday season.
Throughout the holiday season, the idea of wishing "Happy Holidays" to strangers and other anxious shoppers is the indirect way of conveying a true meaning. Naturally, it's always okay to say the phrase; there's nothing conventionally wrong with it. But, if you mean "Merry Christmas" by saying "Happy Holidays," you fall into the politically correct trap, afraid of offending others by wishing them the potentially wrong holiday.
In my personal experiences, out shopping in public and working in the retail business, I strive to be holiday specific. As a Christmas enthusiast, I always say "Merry Christmas" to anyone I come in contact with. Although I understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas like I do, I always take the risk. If someone told me "Happy Hanukkah" or "Joyous Kwanzaa" I wouldn't be offended. And, I'm sure those who do not celebrate Christmas are not too offended by my gesture.
After all, it is the thought that counts. Right?