Photo: Mike Carlino / CC BY 2.0 /

Happy holidays or Merry Christmas? Is there really a war on Christmas?

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Do you say merry Christmas or happy holidays? Or both? And do you care? It’s a hot topic every holiday – Or christmas – season. So is there really a war on Christmas?

Who would have ever thought that two words would make the most wonderful time of the year so contentious.

We talked to some Southwest Floridians and found that by far, the most popular phrase is “Merry Christmas,” but that’s no surprise.

According to Pew Research, 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas in some form.

What did surprise us is that given all the we’ve heard on the “war on Christmas” only one of the eight people we asked, said it bothered them if someone said something different.

Marketing professor Khaled Aboulnasr at FGCU says when it comes to where you shop – that has a lot to do with it, “They’re faced with the reality that the marketplace has changed.”

One shopper said’ “I think everybody understands why they do that.. they’re trying to meet a multitude of people from different religions.”

And our religious beliefs are quickly getting more diverse. The percentage of people who consider themselves Christian in the United States is down by 8 percent in the last seven years, from 78 to 70 percent. The number of people who consider themselves “Unaffiliated” has risen nearly as nearly as much.

Professor Aboulnasr added, “By saying happy holidays and trying to be all inclusive, it’s not anti Christmas as much as it is pro business.”

We checked stores and mall around Southwest Florida and saw far more “Merry Christmas” than “Happy holidays”.

Still, there are watchdog groups that rate stores by how “Christmas friendly” they are. Every year the starbucks “Holiday cup” seems to ignite social media wars of its own. And, from time to time, accusations the retailer has banned Christmas or told employees not to say Christmas.

Despite the company saying they have no such policy and the fact they do sell products like “Christmas blend” coffee every year.

We asked a Target worker in Cape Coral about what she says, “That’s our main project is we love our customers and we want to make our customers happy. So if someone rather me say happy holiday than merry Christmas, I would definitely do that to make their day.”

In our unscientific sample, the spirit of the season seemed to win out over any kind of war.

Reporter:Chris Cifatte
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