"Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays":
A Summary of U.S. Holiday Greetings

Merry Christmas everyone!

Or should we say Happy Holidays?

Every year, around this time, the same debate comes to light. Should we greet each other with vague holiday cheer or specific Christmas-related well wishes? While it may seem trivial, the argument comes down to a friction that exists between those who believe in maintaining political correctness and those who believe we should stand by established traditions and religion.

It’s always a hot topic when the holidays come around, and this year is no different.

Politicians will take a stand, bloggers and social influencers will argue back and forth, even brands may pick a side! Some of you may recall that Starbucks was recently criticized for removing "Merry Christmas" from their seasonal cups. The public was in an uproar debating the pros and cons of the decision. In other words, people really care about holiday greetings.

So what about your neck of the woods?

Do the people around you tend to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?" What about your state specifically? Using geotagged Twitter data, we were able to pinpoint the most common holiday verbiage used across all sections of America. And the results were pretty telling.

As you can see, “Happy Holidays” is the most prevalent greeting throughout most of the United States. The South however seems to be holding on to “Merry Christmas”. Interestingly enough, this follows very closely to what some consider to be the “Bible Belt.” So there is likely a religious component at play here.

Another interesting comparison would be to look at the red states (Republican) vs blue states (Democrat).

Here is the 2012 Presidential Election Map:

and the 2015 Senate Map

While there seems to be less of a correlation, it’s interesting to note that most of the “Merry Christmas” states have been solidly Republican in the last few years.

Which states dominate the “Merry Christmas” greeting?

Top 5 Merry Christmas States:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Kentucky
  4. South Carolina
  5. Louisiana

Comparatively, the most aggressive “Happy Holiday-ers” live in the following states:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Illinois
  4. Oregon
  5. Massachusetts

All in all, regardless of whether you wish others a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” this time of year, the true nature of the season is to be kind to one another and enjoy friends and family. So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, and Happy... anything else we may have missed!


If you’re not familiar with “geotagging” it simply means that certain users have allowed their location to be recorded when they post a tweet. We reviewed a sampling of 300,000 tweets that included the phrase “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” and plotted out our findings on a map of the US. The data was collected from the entire month of December 2014, and the first 15 days of December 2015.

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