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Haps & Hols – a better and quicker holiday greeting!

“Haps & Hols.” It’s that time of the year to wish your co-workers, friends, and family a happy holidays. But you don’t know what to say . . . those “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” greetings are so saccharine, and leave you feeling blah when you should be filled with cheer.

Haps & Hols to the rescue

We’ve got you covered. In a nod to the digital messaging and texting shortening our speech, we propose Haps & Hols replace the much longer and b-o-r-i-n-g Happy Holidays. It can also fill in for all of the other holiday salutation you use like: Warmest Holiday Wishes, Wishing you Joy and Peace (we might go with Joypeace!), Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth (just Peeeace?), Good Tidings for the Holidays (quaint and long), Season’s Greetings (just don’t!).

A very Haps & Hols to you with festive lights and ornaments on a holiday bush
A holiday tree adorned with Haps & Hols; photo courtesy @eyesofavery

If it fits your cultural context you can add in Happy Hanukkah (or Happy Chanukah depending on your spelling preference). You might say “Matunda ya Kwanza” to note the Kwanzaa celebration, which was created in the 1960s (read more here).

If you are inclined to good deeds, or have just lived in England or a former English Colony you might wish someone “Good Works on Boxing Day.” This is a tradition dating from Good King Wenceslas the 10th centuryDuke of Bohemia, of charitable giving the day after Christmas. Much of the charity has faded from Boxing Day, but the holiday remains in many parts of the world.

And of course when the year changes we have Happy New Years. Just make sure it’s in the right context. Of course with our penchant for simplifying language, we might go for Haps 21!

While scholars may argue that texting is ruining our language, we like to think of it as a very normal, evolutionary process. We don’t speak Elizabethan english for a reason . . . our language has evolved.

So what are the Haps and the Hols?

OK, let’s break it down. What exactly do we mean by Haps & Hols.

Haps is more than a short form for Happy. It conveys all of the good wishes we might have for someone to find Happiness. For the season, for the year, and for their lifetimes. Any time of year you can close a conversation with the quip: “Haps.”

Hols is the short form for Holidays. Not just Holiday. Not just Christmas. This is a salutation representing all of the days you might celebrate or consider celebrating this season. When you say “Hols,” you are telling someone you wish them to have a wonderful season of holidays, all going well for them, their friends, and their family. Pretty powerful for just a few letters!

What about the Holly?

Holly looking very happy growing wild
Holly growing wild in Northeastern PA

Hols can also encompass the joy from the decorations found in nature. Holly is any of 46 types of Aquifoliaceae, but usually applies in our common usage to either opaca (eastern United States) or aquifolium (Eurasia). Both have spiny-margined evergreen leaves and bright red berries.

Holly is a beautiful plant, and is often woven into wreathes, or gifted as a potted plant. We love to find it in nature as well, and encourage you to look for it as you travel.

So a greeting of Happy Hols most likely would mean our shortened form of Happy Holidays, but could also be a compliment on a really nicely growing holly plant.

Our Hols, along with Holly and Holy all trace back to origins in Old Germanic which became Halig. In Middle English (yes we are back to Elizabeth) Holin was used.

Holly growing alongside other bushes . . . one can just imagine the Happy Hols this can inspire!
Happy Hols!, more Holly growing nicely in PA

Hols can also refer to Holy, either as “consecrated to God,” or in its less formal form as “morally and spiritually excellent.”

Don’t confuse either Holly or Holy with Holey. Something “holey” would of course simply be filled with holes, and that would just be wholly (chuckle) unsuited for our holiday greeting.

Use it or be left behind

Actually, you should feel free to use any holiday greetings that feel right to you. We offer Haps & Hols only to give you another go-to option when the usual suspects feel too stuffy.

We’ve already tried it out this season, and its been received to mostly good effect. We had one question mark, but the rest of the feedback has been positive.

This is another in our series of posts on language, many of which are also about simplifying our phrases to fit (or even get in front of) modern usage. If you haven’t read it, check out our posts on “prahps“, and “don’t skep my nav,” they are both worth a read.

A bow in a festive holiday setting for a  Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and good cheers for the new years all in one.  You might even say Joypeace!
A bow on the season brings Haps & Hols all around; photo courtesy @eyesofavery

We wish you Joypeace! Please make sure you let us know where you’ve been able to put Haps & Hols to work. You feedback is always appreciated.