THE DEBATE: “MERRY CHRISTMAS” VS “HAPPY HOLIDAYS”

May 3, 2018

As an event planner in Toronto, I have been racking my brain trying to think of when I stopped asking my clients if they were going forward with their Corporate Christmas Party. It appears over the past 10 years I changed over to Corporate Holiday Party, but I cannot recall the precise timing that happened to make me use this new phrase. Was it a client that advised me that their company was now calling their Corporate event a Holiday Party? I can’t recall. I suppose I thought it was a good idea to use a secular greeting given the large multicultural population in Canada.

This new development has become a major debate in the corporate world over the last few years. We all want to be politically correct and we all try not to offend each other. However, are we really causing resentment amongst the minority of people who do not celebrate Christmas?

Statistics Canada show that approximately 67% of our population are Christians, with the remaining 33% following other religions or do not adhere to any religious group. My point here is, does majority rule?

Company Christmas Party or Company Holiday Party? I decided to connect with some of the Corporate Events clients of Pop! Events Group to get a handle on their corporate culture, as well as their personal feelings on this subject.

I asked the following questions:

  • Does your company insist on calling the event a Christmas Party or Holiday Party?
  • When did the directive to do so come into being?
  • Do any of the employees object to it being called a Holiday Party as opposed to a Christmas Party?
  • Have any of your employees declined from attending the company party because of religious beliefs?

Here are the responses I received:

Much to my surprise the responses were divided equally. Half of my contacts responded by saying we live in a predominately Christian country and people should accept the idea of calling their seasonal corporate event a Christmas Party. On the other hand, the remaining half said that the event has to be inclusive regardless of race or religion and therefore the event should be called a Holiday Party.

Interestingly, the group who called the event a Holiday Party still engaged the services of Santa Claus, elves and a Christmas tree, as well as gift-wrapped presents.

Both groups said it was during the last ten to fifteen years that the subject became a corporate issue for them. However, both groups said that this style of corporate parties was a festive celebration of families getting together and no employee declined attending the event.

I am a Canadian born in Canada and I do not celebrate Christmas. Am I offended if someone wishes me Merry Christmas? Absolutely not! I love the celebratory feelings. I love the elaborate decorations, the beautifully decorated trees, and all the fabulous gift-wrapped presents under them. I love the way people are more thoughtful and generous around this time of year.

Having attended many of my clients’ Christmas/Holiday parties in Toronto I can attest to the fact that all of the employees and their families are having a great time. The children are so excited when Santa makes his grand entrance they’ll rush up to give him a big hug! I have watched parents many of whom are wearing turbans, hijabs, saris or yarmulkes bring their children up to visit Santa and proudly take photos of them. It is so much fun watching the children go up to the gift table to receive their present from Santa.

Speaking of Santa, I always wondered where he came from. My research took me back to A.D. 342 in Turkey and every country had a different conception and name for the man which included some pretty bizarre stuff. If you are so inclined to further your knowledge of Old St. Nick look up “Santa Claus: Where Did That Guy in the Red Suit Come From.” However, my research got more interesting. In the 1840’s the real emphasis was on Christmas Day celebrating the birth of Jesus. Birthdays had always been a day for giving presents, so it was a natural step to celebrate Jesus’ birth by giving gifts on that day. So, there you go!

In conclusion, whether your corporate event is called a Christmas Party or Holiday Party the important thing is for all employees to come together with their families to celebrate this festive time of the year.

Let’s get your take on the subject! Please take the brief survey below and let Pop! Events Group know how you feel about this issue?

  • Do you have a Corporate Children’s Christmas Party/Holiday Party at your place of work?
  • Is your company event held at an event venue or on site?
  • Are gifts distributed to the children or the employees?
  • Does your company hire a corporate event planner for any or all your corporate events?
  • Do you refer to your event as a Christmas Party or Holiday Party?