Why Americans Say Happy Holidays Vs Merry Christmas

 In Culture Exchange

When living in America during the December holiday season you may have noticed a little more than just ChristmasWhy Americans Say Happy Holidays Vs Merry Christmas trees, Santa hats, and other festive decorations. For many Americans, the big December holiday is Christmas, so why do many Americans say Happy Holidays instead of the general Merry Christmas?

The reason for this is actually quite simple and it has something to do with some very important reasons.

  • It includes other cultural holidays and religions.
  • Not everyone in America celebrates Christmas.
  • It covers the New Year holiday as well.

Other Cultural Holidays Or Religions

The United States is filled with a diverse range of people. This means that cultural holidays and other religion traditions also happen during the December holiday period as well. Because of this many Americans choose to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas so it doesn’t leave anyone out.

Two such holidays which are celebrated during the Nov-Dec period are Hanukkah and Kwanza.


Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday which lasts a total of eight days and nights. Based on the Hebrew calendar the starting date varies each year. It usually begins in late November to sometime in December. This holiday is about paying respect and celebrating the dedication to Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. A menorah or candle holder that holds nine candles is a symbol of Hanukkah.


Kwanza is a celebration which lasts a week to honour the African heritage. This holiday lasts from December 26 to January 1. During this celebration African Americans wear colorful clothing, light candles in a traditional candle holder called akinara, and feast with loved ones. Originated in 1965, Kwanza was a holiday created so African Americans could celebrate their own holiday. Because not everyone celebrates Kwanza it’s safer to wish people Happy Holidays.

Not Everyone Celebrates Christmas

It may seem strange, although not everyone celebrates Christmas. Christmas is traditionally a strong religious day which has significant importance to many Christians. It is said to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. Those who don’t celebrate Christmas for the religious aspect simply celebrate this day as a time to spread cheer and spend time with loved ones. Some people believe in not celebrating Christmas at all, so saying happy holidays helps to cater for everyone’s personal views.

Happy New Year

With the new year right around the corner after Christmas is complete, saying happy holidays helps to keep the festive feel alive and also incorporates this holiday as well straight after Christmas. Many cultures believe that celebrating the New Year brings hope to the future. Popular activities include making New Year’s resolutions, having a New Year’s party, as well as spending time with family.


So as you can see there are many reasons why Americans prefer to say happy holidays instead of merry Christmas. Although when living in the USA it really comes down to personal preference.


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