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December 14, 2008


Ron Tracy

1. Absolutely. Trying to make any holiday "neutral" by stripping out the official name is a losing strategy. Rather, retailers should take the time to run campaigns specific to the holiday, i.e. Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.

2. Yes.

3. Again, this is a losing strategy. Once consumers find out that a retailer is practicing this type of back-door marketing, they'll revolt. And in the "connected" internet world of today, they will find out.

4. This is a valuable discussion. I'm a Christian and the marketing manager for an Australian organic skin care and nutritional products company. While our company is very new age, even our owners want us to use Christmas in promotional material. They respect the traditions of all faiths and do not try to "hide" behind the "holiday" mask.

James Edward Hicks III


Well, since you asked I will tell you. Doesn't make one bit of difference to me. I like the inconclusive term of "holiday" because not all my friends are Christan or Catholic for that matter. I believe I will be judge by how I share the love of God not semantics.

As far as search words are concerned I want relevant material to come back when I search. How they do it is irrelevant to me.

It seems to me your readers are a self selected group with the potential for a bias towards tolerance. I would be surprised to find strong feels for retailers using the term "Christmas" to hock their wares. However, I've been surprised before. Sorry for not following your format and numbering scheme. I'm just like that that.




1. This is a tough one. As a Christian I want everyone to recognize Christmas, but more importantly I want people to know Christ. With so many religions in American, I can see if a company wasn't a Christian based company, it would be tempting to use Holiday so as to attempt to put no one off. However, if you are looking to make money, you are wiser not to put off Christians as most people claim to be Christian.

2. I would definitely think twice about shopping at a store if they were overtly against Christ and Christmas, and I do notice when people use "Holiday" instead of "Christmas, but I don't think it would ultimately change my course. Again, if they were overtly against Christmas I would probably shop elsewhere. I have yet to see this with the stores I normally shop at.

3. I would think that the company was clever, but that we ultimately differ on the value and importance of Christmas. It would seem like a cheap move.

Greg Stielstra

Very helpful and thoughtful comments Ron. Thanks for taking the time to contribute.

I have another question for the group. If a retailer acknowledges the historical and cultural reality of the Christmas holiday (e.g., Jesus of Nazareth is a person from history who walked the earth and December 25th is the day we commemorate his birth) by using the word Christmas without acknowledging the religious significance (e.g., taking any position about whether Jesus was the son of God) rather than using the generic term "holidays," would you see that as a step in the right direction? GS

Eric Wilbanks

Greg, I love your book and this blog. Thanks for the constant encouragement and reminders.
My wife and I were just discussing this issue last night. I have mixed feelings on the subject.
Historically, a case could be made for either “side” of the issue. Christmas was “invented” by the Roman Catholic church in the 4th century as a way of competing with pagan celebrations. In other words, it was a marketing strategy. So, while celebrating winter on December 25th and exchanging gifts is not a Christian original, “Christmas” is thoroughly and distinctively Christian. Even Santa Claus, clearly depicted in all holiday-leaning retail outlets, is Christian in origin. Yes there really was a Saint Nicholas. Yes he really was a Bishop. Yes he really did give away many gifts…actually, all his wealth. The tradition of Santa Claus is based upon Saint Nicholas, not the winter solstice.
On the other hand, if atheists, agnostics and others would prefer to celebrate Winter Solstice instead of Christmas, I say go for it. But don’t try to turn Christmas into merely a winter solstice. They simply are not the same. Think of it this way. There are billions of products and ideas that were created as competition for pre-existing ideas. But I don’t know of anyone on either side who would dare claim that Mac and Windows are the same and that we should change the name of one to begin representing the other. It is sheer lunacy. So here’s my answer to your questions:
1. I typically don’t notice or care. I go for deals.
2. Only if the retailer makes a stink about it. Then I become aware of their hypocrisy and tend to shy away.
3. Hypocrits.
4. See my intro. :-)

Greg Stielstra

Thanks Eric, and everyone. Your comments are helping me get a feel for people's thinking and equipping me for the interview. Keep it coming. GS

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