Are you confused about holiday messages in the workplace? If so, you are not alone! Last time, we explored why it is important to know your audience before you include holiday greetings in your business emails. Now we will look at some additional guidelines.
Know the policies of your company or organization.
If you are sending out any holiday-related messages as an employee or member of an organization, check their policies first. They will typically allow general references to “the holidays”, but nothing specific to any religion or culture.
However, there are exceptions. For example, if your company advertises itself as a Christian business, they might encourage employees to say/write “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”. On the other end of the spectrum are companies that do not want their employees mentioning any holidays in their workplace communications at all. This is why it’s always a good idea to check.
Do your holiday homework.
Let’s say you have received an email from a colleague who mentions that she is taking time off to observe a holiday that is unfamiliar to you. Assuming that your company is okay with it, should your reply include a line about how you hope she enjoys her holiday?
Before you use a word such as “enjoy” or “happy”, do a little research on the internet. Yes, some holidays are indeed filled with fun and festivities. However, other holidays are solemn occasions for prayer, fasting, and spiritual reflection. Holidays can also include a mixture of serious and fun activities.
If your colleague is observing a strictly religious or solemn holiday, one of the following greetings might be appropriate:
Have a blessed day.
Have a good ______ (name of holiday).
Peace be with you.
You can do even more homework on the internet and find a more specific greeting to fit that particular holiday. This is a great way to show your consideration for your colleagues throughout the year, not only during “the holiday season”.
If you and an overseas colleague are celebrating the same holidays, you might still discover some cultural differences. In the UK, for example, “Happy Christmas” is the standard greeting for that holiday, while “Merry Christmas” is preferred in North America.
You may also need to take note of the timing of holidays. For Roman Catholics and Protestants, Christmas is on December 25th, while Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 7th. Almost every culture has a New Year holiday, yet they take place at very different times. Therefore, even if your business calendar says that New Year’s Day on January 1st, you could find yourself wishing someone a “Happy New Year” almost every month!
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