Retailers urging Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas?-Truth! & Fiction!

Retailers wishing “Happy Holidays” Instead of “Merry Christmas?”-Truth! & Fiction!


Summary of eRumor:

2007 Update: The American Family Association issued an alert saying that Lowes in its 2007 Christmas catalog had 56 pages of Christmas items including what it called “Family Trees,” but the word “Christmas” occurred only twice.

The original eRumor was in various forwarded emails in 2005 saying that large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are minimizing “Christmas” and emphasizing “holidays” at the end of the year and even telling their employees to stop using “Merry Christmas.”

The Truth:

Regarding the 2007 update and Lowes, the American Family Association said that it received word from Lowes that the company was “proudly committed to selling Christmas trees” and said that calling them “Family Trees” was an error that was not caught before the catalog was distributed.  Lowes told the AFA that it would refer to them as “Christmas trees” during other advertising during the Christmas season.”

Christmas 2005 was the year of the “greeting wars” between Christians and American retailers.

This story had several sources.

The American Family Association posted a petition on their website for people to sign in protest of decisions it says have been made by several retailers to ban the use of “Merry Christmas” in advertising and in-store promotion.  The American Family Association action was originally about Target Stores, which it said, had banned using “Merry Christmas” in its stores, something that Target denied.

Popular Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly did a show on which he offered a list of retailers that he said refused to use “Merry Christmas” in their store advertising.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell lent his support to the “Friend of Foe Christmas Campaign” that was launched by the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel, which promised to take legal action against anyone who spread what it saw as misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public spaces.

There was also a brief protest against Wal-Mart led by The Catholic League, which said that Wal-Mart was discriminating against Christmas while promoting alternative holiday celebrations such as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The Catholic League published the contents of an email it says was received from Wal-Mart by a woman who complained that “Merry Christmas” was being replaced by “Happy Holidays.”  According to the Catholic League, the email said: “Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than “christmas” which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with “christmas” red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.  The boycott was called off after being given visibility on WoldNetDaily.  The Catholic League said that Wal-Mart apologized for the email, field the employee who wrote it, and made some changes to its website that reflect “Christmas,” not just “holidays.”

In an official statement Target said it “…serves and employs a diverse range of people…” and that their “…merchandise, advertising, and marketing include a diversity of traditions, particularly at this time of year.”  Target denied that it has asked employees to avoid saying “Merry Christmas” and let that decision rest with the employee.

A visit to the Target website at by in late November, 2005, seemed to confirm the avoidance of Christmas except as it related to specific products. There was nothing on the home page about “Christmas” or “Merry Christmas.”  Instead the references were to a “Holiday Gift Finder” feature and gift cards decorated with snowmen and Christmas trees but termed “Holiday Gift Cards.”  On the Holiday Gift Finder page there are links for “All Things Holiday,” “Holiday Catalogs”, and “Holiday Shipping Dates.”  At the Lowes website ( there was what was clearly a red and green Christmas tree stand but it’s called “The Ultimate Holiday Tree Stand.”  The same with Wal-Mart. Sears, Home Depot, Costco, and KMart although this is not a new trend.  We went through the archives of several of the homepages for major retailers extending back to 1997 and found that most of them by that time had begun referring to “holidays” rather than “Christmas” largely because of the trend of regarding November through January as both Jewish and Christian holidays in the U.S.

Last updated 11/27/05