Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? What do you say? ANOTHER OPTION: Many malls are avoiding traditonal holiday signs entirely this year, decorating instead with an “Ice Palace” theme to promote the release this week of the latest “Narnia” movie.Our question today: How should we greet people in public this time of year?

Why this matters: National data show most Americans don’t want to lose that traditional “Merry Christmas” greeting. This year, the dispute has spilled out into the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the traditional Christmas Parade of Lights was renamed a “Holiday” parade. FOX News zoomed into town to declare that “Christmas will suffer” because of the name change. In response to FOX, Jon Stewart broadcast a hilarious sendup of Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson as “The Gretch Who Saved Christmas.”

All in good clean holiday fun?

Perhaps this is just holiday posturing, but major retailers seem to be bailing entirely from the annual dispute. This month, many big malls across the U.S. are cross-promoting the new Narnia movie with “Ice Palace” displays for families. (Hmmm. But isn’t the Narnia series actually a Christian allegory by C.S. Lewis?)

What do you think? What should we call this season in public?

Let’s look at the data: For the past several years, public opinion pollster Rasmussen Reports has been asking Americans, “Would you prefer stores to show signs saying Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?” Seven of ten Americans (69%) say they prefer “Merry Christmas,” according to a national poll taken in late November. Only 24% say they prefer “Happy Holidays.”  These numbers haven’t changed much over the past few years, Rasmussen Reports finds.

Are there differences by gender or family status? Women like “Merry Christmas” a bit more than men. Those who are married prefer “Merry Christmas” more than those who are not. Having children doesn’t make a difference, the poll finds.

What greeting do you prefer for public settings?

Please, “Comment” below.

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