In the United States, it can have several variations and meanings:
As "Happy Holiday", an English translation of the Hebrew Hag Sameach greeting on Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot.
As "Happy Holiday", a substitution for "Merry Christmas".
As "Happy Holidays", a collective and inclusive wish for the period encompassing Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Winter solstice, Christmas Day (The Nativity of the Lord), Boxing Day (St. Stephen's Day), the New Year and Epiphany.
As "Happy Holidays", a shortened form of the greeting "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
The increasing usage of "Happy Holidays" has been the subject of some controversy in the United States. Advocates claim that "Happy Holidays" is an inclusive greeting that is not intended as an attack on Christianity or other religions, but is rather a response to what they say is the reality of a growing non-Christian population.
Critics of "Happy Holidays" generally claim it is a secular neologism. The greeting may be deemed materialistic, consumerist, atheistic, indifferentist, agnostic, politically correct, and/or anti-Christian. Critics of the phrase have associated it with a larger cultural clash termed the "War on Christmas." However, some Christians, concerned that the 20th century conflation of St. Nicholas Day (December 6), Christmas (December 25), and Epiphany (January 6) has subsumed the meaning of Christmas itself, have taken to using "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" throughout the season, reserving "Merry Christmas" for December 25.
Season's Greetings" is a greeting more commonly used as a motto on winter season greeting cards, and in commercial advertisements, than as a spoken phrase. In addition to "Merry Christmas", Victorian Christmas cards bore a variety of salutations, including "Compliments of the Season" and "Christmas Greetings." By the late 19th century, "With the Season's Greetings" or simply "The Season's Greetings" began appearing. By the 1920s it had been shortened to "Season's Greetings,"and has been a greeting card fixture ever since. Several White House Christmas cards, including U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1955 card, have featured the phrase."