I remember the first time I received a greeting card from a business that said “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. I was taken back a bit, but this was 2007. The card was from a large audit firm my company worked with and I thought that it was strange that they were being so “politically correct.” I had always said Merry Christmas in the past, and I was going to continue doing the same. I was in the Christmas spirit and wanted to project my excitement and wish the same excitement for others.
So my card back to the audit firm proudly exclaimed “Merry Christmas.”
But this year, I am not saying Merry Christmas - I have decided to say Happy Holidays instead. And my reason for this is fairly obvious.
Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays
If you are anything like me, your social media feed has been full of debate relating to the use of “Merry Christmas” this holiday season. It's a controversy that everyone has an opinion on.
And rightfully so.
Stories of children getting kicked out of stores have been making up many headlines this year. Social media debates have been running ramped with two different camps: “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” You should. You shouldn’t. You should.
This conflict has caused many businesses, like the audit firm I worked with in 2007, to be conservative and error on the side of caution: Happy Holidays.
But controversy like this has been happening for years.
Controversy is Nothing New
In 2012, Chick-Fil-A, an American fast-food chain that specializes in the chicken sandwich, was the center of attention for not being “politically correct.” CEO Dan Cathy made several public comments opposing same-sex marriage that sparked a major debate between supporters and the opposition.
Supporters of same-sex marriage demanded boycotts and held protests, while opposers chose to support Chick-Fil-A by intentionally eating at the restaurant on an organized “Appreciation Day."
While this controversy drew major criticism from mayors and other political figures across the nation, the interesting thing is that there didn’t appear to be any negative financial impact to the chain in relation to the comments opposing same-sex-marriage.
In fact, the Huffington Post reported that during 2012, the year the comments were made and followed by the “boycott,” the company actually experienced a 12% increase in sales.
My Happy Holiday
This year, I have worked hard. I have traveled a lot and spent about 75 nights in a hotel, many of those coming in the third and fourth quarter.
So for me, I have been anticipating the 2014 Holidays. Seriously, I am stoked for my time off the road and away from work. For the first time in my life, I am taking almost two full weeks off of work. I made a choice to plow through much of the year without a break and am taking two weeks to be with my family. At home. Work free. (Happy time!)
So this year, I have been saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” because I am so excited for not just Christmas, but for the entire Holiday season - which I have off. For me it has nothing to do with what other people care about, but how excited I am for the holidays - and I want others to enjoy this season as much as I am expecting to.
Keeping With Your Values
For me, it isn’t about saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays."
This season, I want to greet people the way I want to without being afraid of criticism from others.
That is the tragedy of this whole debate on Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas - many are greeting others based on fear rather than greeting them. They are not being authentic to themselves.
The same goes with our businesses.
Why Your Business Should Never Say Merry Christmas
Your business should never say “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy Holidays” for that matter) out of fear, or just to be politically correct. We should say what we say because we authentically mean it. Not because we fear what others will think.
And even when others don’t agree with our approach, we still may end up with a 12% increase in sales.
Because we were authentic to ourselves and to our customers.