Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

The holiday season is upon us–do you find it to be exciting and confusing at the same time?

We have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year all within a short time period!

Do you find yourself unsure of what to say to people at this time of year?

Are you unsure of the proper holiday greetings in English?

We’re going to highlight the major holidays in the US, and how to address people properly.

Here’s a question about this very thing that can break down the confusion.


Hi, I am Sein from South Korea.

In South Korea, it is the holiday season. People are having a 5-day-break because of the Chuseok holiday. We also say “Happy Chuseok!” to each other to wish them good luck.

So, I am curious about the holidays in the U.S., and what people say to each other to send good wishes.

Thank you for reading!

P.S. I listen to your show everyday while going to school! I really love your show!


An Important Part of Making Connections

 This is a huge important connection skill. 

We’re coming up on a time of year with a lot of holidays.

Knowing how to greet somebody or share well wishes during a holiday can really help in conversation.

You want to know what holiday somebody celebrates or how to talk in more general terms.

You need to understand which holidays are celebrated and how to address each one properly.


Look At The Common Examples

There are many different holidays that people celebrate.

Let’s start with some of the most common ones, and how you should address them.

Then we can get into the more specific ones after that can sometimes cause confusion as to what you should say.

There are the general holidays that tend to be celebrated by many.

These include the following, and you usually just add “Happy” before the holiday for a proper greeting.

  • Happy Holidays
  • Happy Birthday
  • Happy Thanksgiving
  • Happy New Year
  • Happy Hanukkah
  • Happy Mother’s Day
  • Happy Father’s Day


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The Specific and Sometimes Confusing Ones

The general holidays are not usually the source of confusion.

First and foremost, they are easy enough to turn into a greeting by adding the word “happy” to.

The one that comes to mind that seems to cause some confusion is  “Merry Christmas”.

In the US, we don’t generally say Happy Christmas.

Here are some helpful guidelines so that you know what is proper to say.

  • You can add some phrases before the holiday based greeting
    • Have a (Have a Merry Christmas, Have a Happy New Year)
    • I hope you have a ____ (I hope you have a happy birthday/happy new year/etc.)
  • IF you use one of the other phrases above, it’s generally okay to replace “happy” or “merry” with another adjective in conversation
    • I hope you have an amazing Christmas
    • Have a relaxing New Year!
    • I hope you have a delicious Thanksgiving!
    • Have a special Father’s Day!
  • You can add “break” when there is time off, as was mentioned in the example above.
    • Have a relaxing Thanksgiving break!
    • Have a great July 4th break.
    • I hope you have a fun Christmas break!

All of these work and get the conversation going around holidays quite nicely.


A Few Alternatives To Keep In Mind

When in doubt, you can always ask people what they are doing for the holidays or holiday break.

This is a great way to bring it into conversation naturally.

You might say something like  “What are your plans for_______?” (Christmas, your birthday, etc.)

There are other holidays when time is generally given off of work and school.

These tend to be the holidays celebrated universally and therefore time is given off for these to everyone.

Breaks/days off are usually given for:

  • Christmas (big break for schools)
  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving (4 days–Thursday, Black Friday, and that weekend)
  • July 4th (1 day)
  • Memorial Day (1 day)
  • Labor Day (1 day)

With many of these we say it’s a long weekend in honor of that holiday.



We have some basic formulas of what to say to wish someone well over a holiday.

We gave you some ways to do this, and you can adjust them as necessary.

Listen to what others say, and be sure to ask people “How was your _____” to continue the connection AFTER the holiday.

Holidays can be a joyous time and a wonderful way to make conversation.

Try out some of these phrases and see how they can help you in your conversations around a festive time of year.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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