Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or Happy Holidays?
Myriad dizzying greetings from which to wish friends a festive holiday season is enough to steer some to take a healthy swig of eggnog.
Most Canadians are firmly in the Merry Christmas camp, according to results of the latest Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global Television.
Of those polled, a strong majority of Canadians, some 73%, defend using the more traditional greeting, saying it is the “original meaning and purpose of the holiday” in this country.
Canadians appear to be adamant about their more traditional tastes, with their attitude similar to findings when the question was asked last year.
“I think what we’re seeing here is an interesting renaissance where Canadians, many of them, don’t feel that they are being offensive to someone if they call it the Christmas Season,” explained Ipsos Reid pollster John Wright. “Because the majority of people in this country are Christian, the majority of people in this country believe that it is Christmas.”
Meanwhile, 25% of Canadians say they prefer the more inclusive “holiday season” in describing year-end festivities, in order to be more sensitive toward others’ religions and cultures.
Middle-aged and older Canadians — 73% of 35- to 54-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 55 and older — are more likely to have a preference for the traditional “Christmas Season” term, which Wright said is not surprising.
But younger Canadians also favour calling it the Christmas Season, and significantly more so than last year.
Sixty-six per cent of those polled between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer the phrase Christmas Season, up 10 points from last year.
“Again, I think there’s a bit of a renaissance here,” said Wright. “Who knows what’s happening, except to say that young people are carving out a niche of their own.”
However, younger Canadians also are more likely than older Canadians to prefer the more multicultural moniker of “holiday season.”
Thirty-four per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds prefer the term holiday season, while only 27% of middle-aged and 20% of older Canadians agree, the survey found.
Across the provinces, residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 80 per cent, are most likely to favour the term Christmas.
British Columbians come in at a close second with 78 per cent, followed by 77 per cent of Albertans and Ontarians, and 74 per cent of those living in the Atlantic provinces.
Quebecers, however, are less likely to prefer the term Christmas Season and are more likely to favour using holiday season.
Sixty-one per cent of Quebec residents prefer Christmas, while 39 per cent side with holiday season.
On what the holiday season means to them, a slim majority of 56 per cent of Canadians thinks Christmas is a time for family, down three points from last year.
For many Canadians, Wright said, Christmas is akin to American Thanksgiving, a time when people go home to reconnect with their family.
“It’s not about religion,” said Wright. “The No. 1 reason is really about family.”
Fourteen per cent think Christmas is a time for exchanging gifts this season, up from last year’s nine per cent.
Nineteen per cent think Christmas is a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ, while 12 per cent see the holiday as just “a nice festive season in the middle of the winter.”
Women are more likely to see Christmas as a time for family, with 59 per cent, compared with 52 per cent of men.
Men, at 15 per cent, are twice as likely as women, at eight per cent, to see Christmas as a nice holiday in the middle of dreary winter.
Thirty-five per cent of Atlantic Canadians see Christmas as a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ. The rest of Canada isn’t far behind, but just six per cent of Quebecers agreed, which Wright said could have to do with Montreal’s multicultural population.