This is an anecdotal observation and nothing scientifically proven. Furthermore it's not even my observation but our sitter Kasey's, but I think she's on to something.

She grew up in Middlesex County and now lives in Hunterdon County as do I. She has noticed people wishing "Happy holidays" more often than "Merry Christmas" in counties where there is more diversity. Counties where more people might be celebrating Diwali or Hanukkah or other things. When she's in Middlesex where there's a much higher Indian population she notices people being more careful to leave it at, "Happy holidays!"

When she's in a place like Hunterdon County she always hears, "Merry Christmas!" Well, not always. The other day she was in the Walmart in Flemington when someone wished her, "Happy holidays!" It actually stood out because of the county she was in. It took her aback but actually solidified her theory. (It wouldn't have stood out at all being said in Middlesex County.) She returned the greeting with a, "Merry Christmas!"

Have you noticed this? Is one more common over the other depending on how diverse your area of New Jersey is? I understand the 'happy holidays' crowd is not trying to take Christ out of anything. They're just recognizing that when you're greeting a stranger in a place like New Jersey you honestly can't be sure if their faith matches yours but they still want to be kind and wish them something. So it never offends me. Yet some take great offense to what they consider the whitewashing of Christmas.

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