Currently I am in the process of discussing some job related business with my future manager. I have been accepted on the job, subject to his final agreement, which he appears to be willing to make. I do not know him personally nor his background/religion. In our communication, he was friendly towards me, but professional. I tried my best to be the same.

Would it be appropriate to include a Merry Christmas/Happy New Year wish in my e-mails?

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    I would say your best bet would be to wish them a "Happy Holidays", and leave any specifics out of it. – New-To-IT Dec 24 '15 at 14:05
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    Happy Holidays or Season Greeting is better when you don't know the person well. There's the chance they are a "War on Christmas" type and will take offense, but it's probably better to find this out now - when you may have a chance to back out if that's a problem for you - than later when you're stuck with it. – GreenMatt Dec 24 '15 at 14:14
  • Somewhat related question on Academia SE: Is it appropriate to give university lecturers Christmas cards? – O. R. Mapper Dec 24 '15 at 17:42
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    @New-To-IT Depends where in the world you are. In the UK, that phrasing always seems weird and artificial to the point where it conveys zero actual sentiment. – David Richerby Dec 24 '15 at 20:54
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    I've been wishing everyone Grated Seasoning, which disarms all the possible objections. – keshlam Dec 24 '15 at 22:54

Would it be appropriate to include a Merry Christmas/Happy New Year wish in my e-mails?

Use "Happy Holidays" or "Have a great holiday." It's a more generic greeting that can work for nearly anyone.

If you are looking to minimize risk of offense, just pick a generic phrase.

Most people would be indifferent with either Merry Christmas or Happy New Year, but some people may take offense/have problems with it (especially Merry Christmas).

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    This is very location-dependent. In the UK, "Happy Holidays" sounds weird, artificial and devoid of any actual sentiment. – David Richerby Dec 24 '15 at 20:56
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    Has anyone ever taken offence to Merry Christmas? It seems to be one of those myths that makes the rounds every year. While I wouldn't claim to be "Mr. Cosmopolitan", I have discussed this with Jewish, Muslim, atheist and even one Buddhist acquaintance and all agreed they couldn't imagine taking offence. – Laconic Droid Dec 24 '15 at 22:48
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    Almost no matter what you say, there's somebody who will be offended, but the "Happy Holidays" replacement might be counterproductive: I don't know anybody who is offended by "Merry Christmas", but I do know some religious people who are put off by "Happy Holidays" because they think it's part of the "secular war against Christianity". – Peter Olson Dec 25 '15 at 1:50
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    That said, I still agree with enderland that "Happy Holidays" is better in a business context. While "Merry Christmas" may not cause offense, it may come across as somewhat tone-deaf. – BSMP Dec 28 '15 at 16:12
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    @DavidRicherby I agree, chiefly because although Brits would understand the sentiment behind "Happy Holidays", holidays in the UK are synonymous with the USA's "vacation". Instead, "enjoy the break" is acceptable in the UK. – Prinsig Dec 29 '15 at 16:05

Depends on what country/culture you and the person you're talking to are in.

In an international business context where you don't know what festival the person you're talking to might be celebrating, "Happy Holidays" is a pretty safe bet. Or if you want to be less formulaic, something like "Enjoy the holidays, speak to you in the New Year!"

It's generally safest to avoid the assumption that the person you're talking to is or ought to be a member of any specific religion - and certainly avoid giving the impression that you think their religious festivals are inferior or invalid compared to yours - and for those reasons I'd generally avoid the mention of a specific religious festival until I know which one they celebrate (or until I know they're just not bothered about that kind of thing).


I would say it is appropriate. I say Merry Christmas to all my clients and work people every year some of whom are not Christians. I also say Merry Xmas to random strangers and our hindu shopkeeper on the day. No one has complained about it and quite frankly there is nothing to complain about.

If you meet the sort of person who would be offended by that, then they're just looking for something to be offended about.


It is certainly appropriate. Although the most likely consequences is nothing much happens, whether you consider it risk free should depend upon how you view working for someone that gets upset upon receiving an expression of positive thought*.

Personally, while I would consider it unfortunate in the short term, I would consider it a long term benefit to know that a future supervisior is unable to control an irrational response. Given that ignoring this part of the email is an acceptably response, I would rather not work for someone that would respond negatively. If your religion inspires you to give goodwill to others in the name of your deity, then go for it.

*This is not to say that everyone should embrace Christmas, I understand that returning the same may actually be forbidden by ones religion, but that doesn't mean it can't be taken with good will, with any response being within the permitted bounds of the religion.

Edit: in response to the "risky" comment. That is exactly my point, if a supervisor focuses on the "who" instead of the "what" in "His Evilnesses blessing for the new year", I don't want to work for him. Totally ignore the comment, fine, smile and say thanks, fine, gets offended because my religion doesn't match up with his, and then feels an irrepressible need to share his displeasure, pass.

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    I can agree, but the only point id like to make on your answer is that "doesn't mean it can't be taken in the spirit it was given" is a tricky game. To put the onus on someone else to match the "spirit" that you are experiencing because of your religion is risky. I completely agree with Enderland, use "Happy Holidays". The name of Christ does not need to be invoked. You can offer a Happy Holidays with the sprit of your Christmas, and the recipient can receive it with the spirit they have during this part of the year. – user2989297 Dec 24 '15 at 16:07

I disagree. Just because he is your future manager , you don't need to go out of your way to wish him. He will hire you based on your skills. I would just not say anything and leave it at that. There is no need to please him to get you hired.

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    The point was not to please him, as we were just discussing some details, like the start date (so basically it was past the point of hiring). I was just thinking to be friendly and polite. – Paul92 Dec 24 '15 at 16:47
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    I agree with @Paul92 that this isn't an answer to the question that was asked. – keshlam Dec 24 '15 at 17:05
  • ok Paul. understood – Learner_101 Dec 25 '15 at 1:28

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