Happy Christmas – or maybe not!

posted in: about words | 0

Christmas tree, gold swirls on blue

Happy Christmas!

Or Nadelik Lowen. (1)

And I hope you have a great Eid MIlad ul-Nabi. (2)

Or would you prefer slightly belated best wishes for Yule and the Winter Solstice? (3)

Or an even more belated Happy Hannukah? (4)

Or Habari Gani? (5)

Or perhaps we need to be wishing you a peaceful and solemn Zarathosht Diso? (6)


Maybe the Americanism that raises British hackles is truly the most appropriate this year – Happy Holidays!


(1) Merry Christmas, in Cornish

(2)The birthday celebration for the Prophet Mohammed, 24 December, and it’s rare for it to fall so close to Christmas.

(3) 21 December

(4) 8-14 December

(5) Kwanzaa, a more recently introduced holiday for African-Americans, and celebrating African culture – 26 December – 1 January

(6) Observance of the death of Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism (26 December)


Writing seasonal messages to a multi-cultural audience

Starbucks' red cup from winter 2015There has been much controversy in the press about Starbucks’ choice to use a plain red for their Christmas cups this year.

But can you blame them, when they’re catering to a multi-ethnic audience, who may be celebrating a number of festivals other than Christmas across the period of time in which they’re promoting their winter range?

In this country, the proliferation of stars, snow-related themes, and other non-religious imagery is a good pointer to the line that companies are trying to tread.  Some see it as an indicator of the increasing secularism of Christmas, but in a multi-cultural country, fewer people celebrate Christmas than used to be the case, as they have their own festivals to be enjoying instead.

However, if you wish your customers ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings’, and state in your publicity that you’re trying not to offend ethnic minorities, then chances are you’ll get someone coming back to you to say, ‘I’m not a Christian, but stop being so silly, it’s Christmas, the clue’s in the name!  CHRIST!  You won’t offend me by celebrating a Christian festival!’


So, how should you tackle it?

If your customers, or whoever you’re writing to, are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, then try not to offend – that’s the first rule.  And that includes Christians, who are liable to get hot under the collar at the mention of Xmas.

If you can give a multi-faceted message, that can work well for you.  If you advertise in a number of publications, or have branches across the country, then tailor your message to the readership, or local area demographics.

If that’s not possible, try and find a general message that will show every group that you’re trying to include them, without making such a wishy-washy message that you wind everyone up!

Alternatively, take a stand.  If you’re a Pagan, then don’t wish folks a Happy Christmas, if that conflicts with your personal beliefs.   Phrase your ‘Happy Yule’ message in such a way that people can take it or leave it, depending on their own personal beliefs.



So, from me, Happy Christmas.  If you’d prefer not to celebrate Christmas with me, then I hope you have a lovely break over this holiday season.  And to all of you, I hope you have a wonderful 2016!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.