What to put on your Christmas cards - "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
In a society in which diversity is key, classic holiday wishes such as Merry Christmas are often replaced by more generic wishes such as "Happy holidays" out of respect for people who do not celebrate Christmas. At the same time most people prefer to be wished "Merry Christmas". What should your company choose? Give it some thought before ordering this year's cards and presents.
In a corporate environment, your Christmas mailing is an important tool to connect with your clients and to build a good relationship with them and - let's admit it - less to do with honouring the birth of Christ. We seize the opportunity of a religious holiday to reach out to our clients, but as our client base expands to other countries, we need to be aware that they might not celebrate Christmas. Various countries do not recognize Christmas as a public holiday (see map below). Other countries - Eastern Orthodox countries such as Russia - do celebrate Christmas, but not until January 7th. And then there are also religions that have their own holiday around the same period, like the Jewish holiday Hanukka, which is celebrated in December or late November, so the timing of your wishes may be fine, but not the wording.
Map of Countries that do not recognize Christmas as a Public Holiday
And the differences are not limited to countries. We all have friends, co-workers, neighbours of other religious faiths. In the same way the person receiving your Christmas card may be living in a country that is not indicated on this map, but not celebrate Christmas themselves. That is why the trend of more generic wishes is on the rise.
So what wording should you use? And should you opt for a Christmas tree or for a winter wonderland on the front? It depends on your client base and your own views. While the ideal situation would be to send each client a card that is suitable for their specific religions and traditions, in practice you will be more likely to have to choose a one-size-fits-all card. Or you may want to consider if it would be useful for your company to use two versions, one for Christians and one more generic.
And if you really want to do it right, it may be handy to be aware of differences between different countries. The British, for instance, have a clear preference for "Merry Christmas", while Americans tend to wish each other "Season's Greetings" or "Happy holidays".
Whatever version you choose, multilingual cards are great. Clients love seeing your wishes in their own language. So here are both "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" and "Happy Holidays" in other languages. An early Christmas present from InDutch!
"Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" in other languages
Afrikaans - 'n Geseende Kersfees en 'n voorspoedige Nuwejaar
Afrikaans - Een Plesierige Kerfees
Albanian -- Gezuar Krishtlindje
Arabic - I'd Miilad Said Oua Sana Saida
Armenian - Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Azeri - Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Basque - Zorionstsu Eguberri. Zoriontsu Urte Berri On
Bengali - Bodo Din Shubh Lamona
Bohemian - Vesele Vanoce
Breton - Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian - Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Celtic - Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
(Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
(Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
(Hong Kong) Kung Ho Hsin Hsi. Ching Chi Shen Tan
Cornish - Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Cree - Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian - Sretan Bozic
Czech - Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish - Gladelig Jul
Dutch - Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
English - Merry Christmas
Esperanto - Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian - Roomsaid Joulu Puhi
Farsi - Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish - Hyvaa joulua
French - Joyeux Noel
Frisian - Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier
German - Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek - Kala Christouyenna
Hawaiian - Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew - Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi - Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Hungarian - Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Icelandic - Gledileg Jol
Indonesian - Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish - Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian - Buon Natale or Buone Feste Natalizie
Japanese - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Kala - Khristougena kai Eftikhes to Neon Etos
Korean - Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latvian - Priecigus Ziemas Svetkus un Laimigu Jauno Gadu
Lettish - Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian - Linksmu Kaledu
Manx - Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Maori - Meri Kirihimete
Marathi - Shub Naya Varsh
Navajo - Merry Keshmish
Northern Sotho - Matlhatse le matlhogonolo mo ngwageng o moswa.
Norwegian - God Jul Og Godt Nytt Aar
Pennsylvania German - En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei
Papiamento - Bon Pasku i Felis Anja Nobo
Pig Latin - Errymay ristmaskay
Polish - Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese - Feliz Natal (Used in Portugal, Brazil and several former Portuguese colonies)
Rapa-Nui - Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Romanian - Craciun Fericit
Russian - Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom
Samoan - La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Serbian - Hristos se rodi
Scottish - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur
Serbian - Hristos se rodi
Singhalese - Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Slavonic - Christos Razdajetsja! Slavite Jeho!
Slovak - Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovene - Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto
Spanish - Feliz Navidad (Used in Spain as well as Mexico and most of Central and South America)
Swahili - Krismasi Njema
Swedish - God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt Ar
Tagalog - Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Tamil - Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Thai - sooK San wan Christmas
Turkish - Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian - Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu - Bara Din Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese - Chung Mung Giang Sinh
Waray - Maupay nga Pasko ngan Mainuswagon nga Bag-o nga Tu-ig
Welsh - Nadolig Llawen
Zulu - Nginifisela inhlanhla ne mpumelelo e nyakeni.
"Happy Holidays" in other languages
Albanian - Gëzuar Festat
Catalan - Bones Festes!
Chinese - 節日快樂
Croatian - Sretni praznici!
Danish - Glade feriedage
Dutch - Prettige feestdagen
Filipino - Masaya pista opisyal
French - Joyeuses Fêtes!
Gaelic - Beannachtaí na Féile
German - Forhe Feiertage
Greek - Καλές δικακοπές! (kales diakopes)
Hawaiian - Hau’oli Lanui
Hebrew - חג שמח
Hungarian - Boldog Ünnepeket
Indonesian - Selamat Hari Raya!
Irish - Laethanta saoire sona
Italian - Buone Feste!
Japanese - 幸せな休日
Korean - 행복 휴일
Latin - Felix feriarum
Mandarin - Jie Ri Yu Kuai
Portuguese - Boas Festas!
Romanian - Sarbatori Fericite!
Slovenian - Vesele Praznike
South African (Xhose) - Ii holide eximnandi
Spanish - Felices Fiestas!
Swahili - Furaha likizo
Swedish - Trevlig Helg!
Turkish - Mutlu Bayramlar!
Vietnamese - Hạnh phúc ngày lễ