Friday, December 21
I witnessed a very interesting cultural phenomenon when I was in London this week. Everyone there says, "Merry Christmas." Signs in all the retail stores say, "Merry Christmas." Rolling electronic signage on the sides of businesses say, "Merry Christmas." All the sales clerks and basically everyone you run into says, "Merry Christmas."
I have to say it took me off guard at first.
Here in the States, we've evolved to "Happy Holidays" to recognize our cultural diversity and so as not to assume anything. I've gotten comfortable with "Happy Holidays." It fits us.
Now I'm a big fan of Christmas, huge in fact. We put up five Christmas trees in our house this year, and we have an ornament collection that makes me so happy. We celebrate Christmas with fever! Honestly, not from a religious standpoint, but from one of family and home. That's just the way we are.
So for me when someone says "Merry Christmas," it means "have an amazing time with your family and friends during what is the most delicious part of the year." That's just me ... I know that it means very different things to other people, which is wonderful.
And I'm not commenting here at all if we should be saying "Merry Christmas" to each other ... because of who we are as a culture "Happy Holidays" makes much more sense. But I did like hearing folks say to me "Merry Christmas" because every time they said it I pictured my family. Memories of my cute little kids on Christmas morning popped up in my mind. I don't get that same warm fuzzy with "Happy Holidays."
The point here is that it's wonderful to view and participate in other cultures ... without judgement ... with love and respect, and to learn something from it. I can't wait to visit another part of the world next year at this time and see what the experience is like.
Whatever you call it ... and I love you for it ... enjoy the balance of the year with your family and friends. Rest, relax, unwind, and partake ... it's what the season is meant for!
What's your experience? Jim.
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU