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“Merry Christmas…..uh, no…..Happy Holidays! Oh, Whatever…”

A good friend of mine posted this on her Facebook status this morning:

“We can’t say Merry Christmas now we have to say Happy Holidays. We can’t call it a Christmas tree, now called a Holiday tree? Because it might offend someone. If you don’t like our “American Customs” & it offends you so much then just leave. They are called customs, we have our traditions. If you agree Please post this as your status. I AM A PROUD AMERICAN. MERRY CHRISTMAS & Decorate your CHRISTMAS TREE.”

I don’t get it, Jeannie. Why are people so angry when someone says “Happy Holidays” to them? It seems to me that if anyone says Happy anything to you, the correct response would be Thank You. I always thought Happy Holidays was a phrase designed to wish people good tidings (whatever their religious preference) through the New Year — meaning that “Holidays” is plural. I don’t quite understand why you’d jump down someone throat for it.

Maybe it hits me as mean and, frankly, stupid because I’m Jewish and don’t put up a Christmas tree. I also just sent out holiday cards that said Happy Holidays. Did she tear it into little pieces and stomp on it? Also the I AM A PROUD AMERICAN part bothers me. I consider myself A PROUD AMERICAN too. Aren’t non-Christians Americans too?

I thought of challenging her on it but you know how Facebook can be. This person is a dear friend of mine and my first thought is that she doesn’t really mean this. But I’m not so sure. Does she really think I’m un-American and should leave the country because I don’t have a Christmas tree?

I’m re-thinking this friendship.

And for those that would re-post this ugly message … All I can say is, honestly, people, don’t we have more important issues to be outraged over?   1219-10

The phrase “Happy Holiday(s)” has been around since the Victorian era when early Christmas postcards and cards had this greeting imprinted on them.   Christmas music from the 1960’s uses the phrase with the song, “Happy Holiday” by Andy Williams being the notable example. So, I don’t think it is the actual greeting that has some people riled up.

At issue is the perception of a war being waged against a Christianity-based holiday. Wikipedia says it better than I can so I’ll quote directly:

Controversies have arisen regarding the celebration or acknowledgment of the Christmas Holiday (or the lack thereof) in government, media, advertising, retail, and various secular environments. The controversy also includes objections to policies that prohibit government or schools from forcing unwilling participants to take part in Christmas ceremonies. In the past, Christmas-related controversy was mainly restricted to concerns of a public focus on secular Christmas themes such as Santa Claus and  gift-giving, rather than the  birth of Jesus.

Modern-day controversy occurs mainly in Western countries such as the United States, Canada, and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom. This usually involves governments or corporations avoiding the day’s association with Christianity  to be multiculturally sensitive. In recent decades in the United States, public, corporate, and the federal government mention of the term “Christmas” during the Christmas and holiday season  has declined and been replaced with a generic term, usually “holiday” or “holidays,” to avoid referring to Christmas by name and/or to be inclusive of other end-of-year observances such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.  Popular non-religious aspects of Christmas, such as  Christmas trees, lights, and decorating are still prominently showcased and recognized, but are vaguely associated with unspecified “holidays” rather than with Christmas. Also, several US chain retailers, such as Walmart, Macy’s and Sears, have experimented with greeting their customers with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” rather than with the “Merry Christmas”.

However, Ben Stein probably reflects the real opinion of the majority of people in regards to this issue….

I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees.

I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they’re slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. I shows that we’re all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

It doesn’t bother me one bit that there’s a manger scene on display at a key intersection at my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, fine. The menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too. I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way. Where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we used to know went to.    http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/confessions.asp

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  • Anonymous December 16, 2014, 10:21 am

    I’m atheist, and my solution to the “politically correct holiday greeting” trap is fairly simple. I don’t bring up the holidays, unless someone else does. So, I’ll say “Have a good day,” or “Have fun at/good luck with [whatever the other person is doing next/whatever’s going on in their life],” or “Namaste” if it’s the end of yoga class (for the uninitiated, that’s Sanskrit for “The light in me bows to the light in you.”) If and only if the other person wishes me a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever, I’ll either say it back, or just say “Right back at you.” So far, nobody’s ever been offended by my approach, and it works for me, because I’m not a big Christmas person. But, in my experience, I find that people don’t get bent out of shape because you told them to have a good day, whether that “day” is December 25th, the first night of Hanukkah, or a random Tuesday in the middle of July.

  • Politrix December 16, 2014, 10:27 am

    Interesting quote from Ben Stein. Wonder where he was during the whole viral e-mail campaign that went around a few years ago, attempting to ban a postage stamp commemorating Ramadan?
    The United States of America was, is, and always will be, a country of immigrants. Most of whom bring a strong work ethic, a willingness to help their new country grow, and solid family values — AS WELL AS their own cultures and traditions. To demand ANYONE “leave the country” because they don’t wish to participate in YOUR holiday is beyond ridiculous. In fact, to even get offended by someone wishing you a “happy holiday” shows an abysmal level of pettiness from someone who obviously needs to get a life. Or maybe just needs to join an exclusive “members-only” country club.
    You know that old saying, “If you remember the ’60’s, you weren’t really there?” I think the new saying should be, “If you weren’t offended in the early 2000’s, you weren’t really there.”

    • beth0214 December 16, 2014, 6:03 pm

      Politrix-Love your thoughts! And, anyway, doesn’t the 28th Amendment guarantee the right to never be offended? Thanks!

    • Crabtree Gear Kid December 16, 2014, 6:46 pm

      Beautifully said.

  • LonelyHound December 16, 2014, 10:27 am

    Personally, I think this time of year, which is supposed to be joyous, brings outs the bristles in people when they cannot wish people as they would normally because it is seen as unfit, or they are racist for not accepting other traditions (yes, a Christian I know was called out as a racist because she wished someone a Merry Christmas). I can see how that aggravates Christians. However, I do not agree with posting it on FaceBook. The only reason I do not agree with posting it on FaceBook os the exact situation the OP is putting the poster in. OP may have no idea what sent her friend into the tirade. Was it the fact that she was berated for her beliefs, or yelled at by someone for wishing them a Merry Christmas? Maybe something set her off. Talk to her. Find out what set her off instead of jumping to the fact that she is disrespecting your holiday.

    The proud American is in EVERYTHING I have seen on FaceBook. I am a PROUD American and Jewish. I am a PROUD American and Democrat/Republican. I am a PROUD American and Christian/pick your religion. I have seen them every where. It seems to be a stand in phrase. I do think that phrase needs to go away though. Too many people get offend, like the OP, because they are not the “and”.

    Honestly, I am getting tired of Christmas. It used to be my favorite holiday, but no more. It has been commercialized to within an inch of its life and then PCed to the grave. September used to start a lot of the Christmas goings on here in my town. Septermber! Now that PC has taken over I cannot find one store playing holiday music at all. Play Hanukka music, Kawaanza music or Christmas music, I do not care. The Christmas, Kawaanza (sp?) and Hanukka decorations are tucked into the backs of stores. Outta sight, outta mind. Call me bitter because I am, but i just wish for the beautiful music after Thanksgiving and the illusionary (is that a word) belief that peace on Earth is possible while watching my children open gifts. Rant over.

    • The Elf December 16, 2014, 4:39 pm

      Really? Nothing in any stores? Come on over to my (very liberal and religiously diverse) neck of the woods. You can’t escape it. Christmas music – mostly secular stuff – is on in all the stores and the decorations and special foods are front and center. In fact, I saw it start in late August this year.

      • Anonymous December 17, 2014, 3:09 pm

        Christmas music, decorations, AND special Christmas foods in stores in late August? Okay, you win. I thought it was outrageous seeing ONE box of Christmas-themed stuffed animals at the grocery store on the first day of my fourth year of university (September 2007), but it looks like it’s just grown from there. Honestly, for me, the religious aspect of Christmas isn’t the problem–it’s the fact that it starts SO EARLY, and it ends up choking out everything else that happens over the fall and early winter–December 6th (the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre), Remembrance Day, Halloween, and even Thanksgiving (I’m Canadian, so our Thanksgiving is in mid-October). I could deal with a week or two (or even three) of Christmas hype, but three or four months is just too much. I’m also in a steel band, that starts rehearsing Christmas music in September, but that’s more because it’s a public, open band, with no auditions, that literally ANYONE can join. So, it’s very much a mixed-ability band, and we can only progress at the pace of the slowest members.

        • The Elf December 18, 2014, 9:40 am

          A lot of the food stuff like eggnog comes out in November, and that’s when the stores generally start playing the music, but I started seeing lots of decorations and other obviously Christmas stuff for sale in August.

          • NostalgicGal December 19, 2014, 1:59 pm

            Eggnog shows up here Mid September in the grocery store in cartons ….

            About 2002, I caught someone at The Big Box Store back by the garden center setting up artificial Christmas Trees on 17 Aug. I asked, and they said management handed them the setup layout pages… so. Then Halloween started taking off so they pushed off Christmas set until Sept. They had Going Back to School starting 4th of July weekend, Halloween being set a few weeks later, and cramming Christmas launch in. (they’re taking school supplies down almost at the time you need to buy them as they need the room!)

            There was a store 2013 that was selling Easter Candy middle of December, and outrage made them wheel it in back again until New Year’s. There’s getting to be little holiday stuff anymore it’s just all Buy Buy Buy. Ptui. Yep, candycanes in August. The candy that was for Halloween, in different colored bags and wrappers is sold almost year around now for various holidays….

          • admin December 19, 2014, 5:53 pm

            Just yesterday I saw Valentine’s Day stuff at a store.

    • JWH December 16, 2014, 7:40 pm

      In a recent book, a character named “Kringle” appeared. The main character’s jaw dropped, and he said, “But you’re San– ”

      “NOT UNTIL AFTER HALLOWEEN!!” Kringle said. “I have standards, you know.”

  • Precarioous Armada December 16, 2014, 10:37 am

    As a non-American, I rather resent the implication of the Facebook post. It implies that if I celebrate Christmas, I must be American. Happy Holidays also covers other folks who have celebrations, religious or not. It also completely ignores the Non-Christian origins of the Yule Log, gift-giving, feasting and ‘making merry’. Not to mention that there are Christian denominations who don’t celebrate Christmas, including a famous historical group of Christians that played an important part in the founding of the modern American nation (cough, Puritans, cough). I don’t think the poster of that missive realized the unfortunate implications of their post.

  • magicdomino December 16, 2014, 10:46 am

    Another atheist who celebrates Christmas here. Pretty lights and songs, good food, what’s not to like? 🙂

    I’m not offended by anyone wishing me anything nice, be it “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” or even “God bless us, every one.” However, I would be offended by this Facebook post, and stop sending her cards completely. A quiet private message asking if she would prefer not to exchange cards might be more polite though, just to clarify the problem.

  • just4kicks December 16, 2014, 11:03 am

    If I wish a Jewish person a Happy Hanukkah, and they wish me the same, I don’t take offense to it or call them out on it. I was good friends with a co-worker years ago who celebrated Kwanzaa. On his way home for the holidays, I wished him a Happy Kwanzaa and safe trip to his home state. He smiled and said, “Hey, thanks! Happy Kwanz—…..oops! You’re the wrong shade for Kwanzaa, young lady! Merry Christmas to you and your family!” We shared a good laugh and big hug and neither of us was offended in the least.
    In my mind, that’s how the holidays (of your choice) SHOULD go.
    Peace, Joy and Love to all of God’s creatures, big and small.

  • burgerking December 16, 2014, 11:04 am

    I am a Christian, raised Christian, and choose as an adult to still continue to follow my Christian traditions. I am ok with the idea of NOT having manger scenes, menorahs, or what other religious associations there are. Because I am Christian I would be very offended if there were demonic, Wiccan or pagan displays in my community and therefore I am ok with having no religion or non religions displays out there.

    • Kirst December 16, 2014, 4:32 pm

      Why would you be offended if displays of other people’s sincerely held beliefs were around? They don’t hurt you.

      • Cat December 18, 2014, 6:59 pm

        I’ll celebrate anything that has good food attached to it.

    • Yvaine December 16, 2014, 7:53 pm

      Anywhere in your community? Wow.

    • Reaver December 16, 2014, 9:16 pm

      You’d be upset if there was a Pagan display? But the entire HOLIDAY was originally Pagan =/

    • Ergala December 16, 2014, 10:31 pm

      And this is when I would normally pull out my soapbox and educate the offended party about what Wicca and paganism is really about…and a gentle reminder of where most of our Christmas traditions originate from. I too am a Christian, the beliefs of others harm me in no way.

      • just4kicks December 17, 2014, 3:28 am

        Isn’t wiccan a religion too? I recall seeing a biography on witches, and one woman whose husband had died in the Iraqi war petitioned President Bush about putting the Wiccan symbol on his headstone, because crosses and stars of David were permitted, she wanted her husband’s religion proudly displayed on his tombstone.

      • Margo December 17, 2014, 5:13 am

        Burgerking, are you saying you would be offended by *official* , state-sponsored displays, or just displays anywhere? Because if it is the latter, that strikes me as really intolerant and inappropriate.

        If you feel that official government / state bodies should not be having religious displays then that is an understandable position to take, although there is then an issue of where something starts being religious…

      • Ergala December 17, 2014, 9:46 am

        just4kicks it is. I can’t remember if it’s a protected one but I believe it is. In fact Wicca is quite beautiful and peaceful. People confuse it with witchcraft and there are many pages that are claiming to be run by Wiccans but they post spells, Wiccans don’t cast spells. They are very much in tune with nature and believe in doing no harm. Hollywood has done a huge disservice to the Wiccan community with movies like The Craft and what not.

        I am a Mormon but before I was I was a Wiccan for quite awhile. My fellow church members embrace whom I once was and have never ever chastised me for it. Not to mention we all acknowledge how Christmas really came about, and that Jesus was NOT born in the winter, especially in December. We celebrate it as a time to be together as families and to spread love and good tidings.

        People need to understand that most of our holidays do have Pagan roots and to try and deny those roots or wash them away is an outright insult to that belief system. It’s not right.

        • remi December 17, 2014, 12:39 pm

          Wiccans absolutely do cast spells. Maybe your own “brand” of Wicca didn’t, but ceremonial magic has been a part of conventional Wiccan practices since the start. You shouldn’t imply that Wiccans who practice magic aren’t “real” Wiccans just because their coven works differently than yours. There are very many ways to be Wiccan, and most of them involve some form of ceremonial magic.

          • Ergala December 17, 2014, 3:07 pm

            Remi I am talking about Love Spells and spells to get money and manipulate others. THOSE are the spells I am talking about. A lot of the members of these groups, especially the ones on FB are teenagers or very young adults whom have fed off of the Hollywood standards. My mother in law is a Wiccan and she absolutely does not cast spells. She has an altar but she uses it for offerings.

            I don’t understand your hostility considering I was defending the religion and not saying it wasn’t real or is offensive. Just like other religions there are branch off groups. When I say I am a Mormon the first thing I am asked is about polygamy. Apparently I’m not a Mormon if I don’t practice polygamy and they don’t believe me that the practice has been denounced by the church. There are fundamentalist Mormons who broke away from the Church in order to continue the practice but they are drastically out numbered. There is also a break off group that is run by women. You also hear about the ones that have compounds and believe in marrying their daughters off young. They are the minority not the majority.

        • just4kicks December 17, 2014, 7:19 pm

          I do recall from the biography I saw, the Wiccans did hold a special place and love of nature. From what was presented there, I thought it seemed like a lovely concept. They did show some sort of ceremony with singing and chanting, which many might think is weird. But, come to Sunday Mass with me sometime! There is singing and chanting, and the ceremony of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Depending on which time of year it is, there is also incense being wafted around the church. In my opinion, I think alot of religions are very similar, and to each their own. The world would be a boring place if everyone thought the same thing.

  • NostalgicGal December 16, 2014, 11:05 am

    I was living in a major urban and they were de-holiday-ing every holiday. No more Halloween parties in schools, and instead of going neighborhood trick-or-treat, drag your kids to the mall. Christmas, the attack was well under way (And this was the time when I caught a Big Box setting Christmas on 17 August)…. and if you didn’t say Happy Holidays you were going to get it both barrels. Only thing Christmas was supposed to be it seemed was spend four and a half months in a major buying frenzy. Lawsuits all over to remove nativity scenes, Christmas trees, etc from public areas and government property.

    Late 2005, I moved to a small rural agricultural town. On the courthouse lawn, early December, up went a full sized nativity scene. (Joseph was about 5′ tall, I set him back up a few times after wind laid him down). People said ‘Merry Christmas’. I asked the tag office lady, if anyone had lodged one… she said the year before someone stopped and complained about the nativity. They were asked if they lived here…no. They were driving through to their snowbird wintering grounds. They were told to get right back in their car and keep driving. Merry Christmas. This made me feel better about living here. The nativity still goes up, and they have one evening they replace the figures with live people (though Baby Jesus is still a doll, the rest aren’t) for an hour or so.

    And no matter what I feel, worship, or believe, I can say Merry Christmas to you or have you say it to me, and not be the least upset. Tonight Hanukkah starts, so Happy Hanukkah to those that believe it. Winter solstice is Sunday… may you be blessed.

    • JS December 16, 2014, 8:03 pm

      Wow. Forgive me, but that seems neither American nor Christian of your town.

      • Cat December 17, 2014, 10:49 am

        Considering that Jesus Himself told people, “Out of My sight, you accursed ones! I never knew you.” and took a whip to those who were disrespecting the Temple, I think they are lucky they didn’t run into Him. He wasn’t as meek and as mild as some of us would like to believe.
        Can you imagine Christ chasing after you with a whip? I’d be ducking and dodging, “Lord, now wait! Wait! I can explain! Ow! Ow!”

      • NostalgicGal December 17, 2014, 4:28 pm

        What? If they lived here, then yes it’d be addressed. If you don’t live here, and you don’t like it, keep going please. I think that’s civil enough. We like our nativity, and in fact I had to go to the tag office today, and asked… that is the ONLY complaint they’ve gotten in a good twenty plus years. I asked further… if someone wanted a menorah on the lawn, they’d be accommodated, if they wanted something else (kwanzaa related) they’d be accommodated. Nobody that lives here has asked. Yet.

        • Jared Bascomb December 18, 2014, 11:00 pm

          Wow, NostalgicGal —
          Your new town really missed the whole “separation of church and state” thing, didn’t they? AND public vs private displays.

          • NostalgicGal December 19, 2014, 2:18 pm

            The inside of the courthouse is one thing… the outside is another. People wanted the nativity, it was put up. It is put up every year. And as I said, I asked, if someone that lived here wanted a Menorah during Hanukkah, they’d accommodate it. Or Kwanzaa.

            Our courthouse lawn is always well kept, plantings and such; and it’s for us that live here. They had one complaint since 1988 when they got the present nativity set. The one where the driving by person stopped in to complain about it.

            We also have ‘Christmas lights’ these things that look like trees, stockings, candycanes and such and light up and are attached to the street lights every season. The local power company loans a bucket truck and a few volunteers of theirs and a few other citizens, and they put them up around Thanksgiving and get them down by mid January (weather permitting).

            Oh, I asked the local Wiccans (we have a few, they are welcome to practice and live here) and they don’t mind the nativity either.

            It does NOT need lawsuits to sort out what does or doesn’t happen. What’s on your lawn, we have not had to have a sortoff; what’s in the public buildings is usually up to who works there; what’s on the public lawns is often by ‘unofficial committee’.

            Politically Correct.

            I’d rather have the nativity on the courthouse lawn. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.
            Happy Hanukkah. Joyous Kwanzaa. Good Solstice.

        • JS December 19, 2014, 9:54 am

          I can’t imagine why no one would feel comfortable asking to display a menorah in your town.

          • NostalgicGal December 20, 2014, 10:42 am

            As far as I know there are no residents of the Jewish faith in town. And nobody’s asked. So far.

          • Ergala December 20, 2014, 11:09 am

            I imagine if so done who lived there asked to have their faith displayed there would be no issue. It’s the people who do not live there and are just passing by whom take it upon themselves to stop and complain that are being ridiculous. We have a huge nativity scene up here right in the middle of downtown. Plus suspended across main street is an enormous lit up crown. It has been tradition for longer than my mother has been alive to have that scene up. They had the crown up when my mom was a little girl. If some random person stopped and complained whom didn’t even live here I bet they would get the same reaction, keep on moving. We have a Jewish population as well and there is Jewish displays as well….if someone stopped to complain about those they would get the same response. We are a huge tourist state and with it being winter all the skiers are arriving. Our town doesn’t have a tourist attraction in regards to slopes, so there is really no reason for anyone to complain who doesn’t live here. They see it for 10 seconds as they drive by.

          • JeanFromBNA December 22, 2014, 7:25 pm

            Why? Because everybody knows that all Christians are intolerant?

  • Jenna December 16, 2014, 11:06 am

    I’m Wiccan myself. I technically don’t celebrate Christmas, but do view it as a family time and buy my family gifts.
    I would never wish someone a “Merry Christmas”, but if someone says it to me I smile and say “Thank you! You as well.”.
    I don’t view Christmas wishes as an attack, I take it as it was meant. It’s no one’s job to be psychic about my holiday choices.
    As a standard, I wish people Happy Holidays. I haven’t gotten attacked for it yet, but I pitty the idiot who does so. I’m not afraid to tell people my thoughts.

    • Enna December 21, 2014, 10:29 am

      Happy Holidays! I agree 🙂

  • Library Dragon December 16, 2014, 11:08 am

    I don’t get upset at a well meant “Happy Holidays”. As a Christian is has a meaning for me. The person, whether they realize it or not is wishing me a Happy Holy Day. A dictionary definition of “holiday”: Middle English holidai, holy day, from Old English hlig dæg : hlig, holy; see holy + dæg, day; see day. I would rather have a general wish for a Happy Holy Day than a commercial money grab in the name of Christmas.

  • Tracy W December 16, 2014, 11:29 am

    I think the underlying concern here is that saying “Happy Holidays”, by being inclusive, loses vividness and specificity. “Happy Holidays” is rather bland: melting pot rather than smorgasbord.

    Although the way of expressing that concern rather goes out of its way to be offensive.

    • JackieJormpJomp December 17, 2014, 5:41 am

      Late to the game, but let me say–as a non Christian, when I hear “Happy Holidays”–silly as it is–I get a little tingle. Because that includes me too! I’m not offended if someone says “Merry Christmas—gosh, “merry anything” is great! But hearing happy holidays makes me feel included. For what it’s worth.

      • NostalgicGal December 17, 2014, 4:30 pm

        If you’re non Christian and I know it, I’ll greet you appropriately. 🙂

        • JS December 19, 2014, 9:55 am

          But do you assume everyone you meet is Christian? And would “happy holidays” be an inappropriate greeting for a Christian?

          • NostalgicGal December 20, 2014, 10:38 am

            Depends on the location some too. But my friends and acquaintances that I know aren’t Christian, I greet them appropriately.

  • lnelson1218 December 16, 2014, 11:32 am

    I do say Happy Holidays, I also say Merry Christmas, especially to people whom I know to be Christian and actually celebrate that holiday. I respond with the same greeting I was given or a “all the best to you as well.”

    The whole war on Christmas in my opinion is a media circus created by the media so they don’t have to report actual news or (conspiracy here) a diversion so people aren’t asking the questions about our so-call leaders that they should be, because they are too wrapped up in the war on Christmas.

    December 25th is a federal holiday observed by many (retailers who make their employees work on that day, shame on you, it is should be a religous event not a sales event). The day is Christmas. As long as Christianity is practiced, the 25th of December will considered Christmas. Yes, in other parts of the world it is just another day.

    Political correctness while might be well intended went over the top.

    So to each and every one the readers: Merry Christmas and have a Happy (and safe) Holiday Season.

  • nannerdoman December 16, 2014, 11:34 am

    I think there is a big etiquette issue in this Facebook meme: the assumption that to be a “good American” you must celebrate Christmas. I think the OP should respectfully point that out to her friend–that many good Americans, for whatever reason, don’t celebrate Christmas, and that many people who do celebrate Christmas aren’t good Americans. (For instance: Christians in Mexico, England, Poland, Russia, Australia, Japan . . . )

  • Kat December 16, 2014, 11:36 am

    “I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country.”

    This makes me sad, because as a non-believer I’m constantly aware of the fact that I’m surrounded by Christianity. I don’t object to it at all – faith makes people happy, and I’m glad they have it – but I do object to the fact that when I’m honest about my lack of faith, people often perceive it as an attack.

    I’m a proud American, and this is a country founded on the freedom to believe whatever you believe without being hassled about it.

    When someone wishes me Merry Christmas, I smile and say “Same to you.”

    • SJ December 16, 2014, 6:13 pm

      Yes!
      My faith isn’t an attack on your lack of faith. Your lack of faith is not an attack on my faith.
      What a concept.

      • Jay December 16, 2014, 8:23 pm

        Yes! This!

        America is not an atheist country. America is also NOT a Christian country. Americans are able to worship the way they please because of this wonderful notion of freedom of religion and separation of church and state we have here. This is a good thing. This is a great thing!

        It drives me nuts when people whine about that. And I’m a Christian.

        • admin December 18, 2014, 5:52 am

          When 78% of the population identifies themselves as being members of one particular religion ( in the case of the US, “Christian” , i.e. Catholic, Protestant, Mormon), that means a “super majority” of citizens follow a particular religion and I don’t think it is wrong to then conclude that X nation is a Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist nation with other religions being represented by a small minority. India, for example, has 80% of the population identified as Hindus with the remaining 20% divided among Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Animists, etc. It would, therefore, be quite logical and expected that travelers to India will see Hindu festivals, Hindu holidays, Hindu decorations, etc. Turkey, which has a secular government, has 98.3% of its citizens registered as Muslim (70% of which are Sunnis) with the remaining 1.7% of the population as Christian and Jewish. I think one could safely conclude that Turkey is an Islamic country and travelers to Turkey would have a very high rate of expectation of seeing Muslims holidays,customs, foods,etc predominate throughout the culture.

          • The Elf December 18, 2014, 9:45 am

            I think it is better to say that America is a nation populated primarily by Christians rather than that America is a Christian nation. Because the first amendment says – specifically – that Congress shall not establish a religion, we are by law a secular nation where people can choose their own religion. That most people choose Christianity strongly influences our culture but does not make us a Christian nation.

      • delislice December 17, 2014, 8:29 am

        “It does me no harm for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Thomas Jefferson.

        “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” James Madison.

        • Kat December 17, 2014, 4:41 pm

          Well said 🙂

  • Ashley December 16, 2014, 12:00 pm

    I’ve been seeing an influx of those types of posts on Facebook, and I can’t help but giggle about them because all of the people I have on Facebook live in the mid west, where it has been Christmas since the day after Thanksgiving and literally no one is trying to stop any of the overtly Christian displays from going up anywhere, and cashiers throw out “Merry Christmas” to everyone.

    I realize that there are other places that might be asked to tone down their displays but some of these posts act like Christmas has been banned outright across the whole nation.

    I’m an atheist. I end my interactions with customers by saying ‘Have a good afternoon and then I wait for the customer to offer me some sort of holiday greeting first, then I return it. Most of my customers say “Happy holidays” because they realize there’s a good chance they won’t see me til after New Years, and want to include that as well.

  • Kirst December 16, 2014, 12:02 pm

    Christmas is not an “American custom.” It’s a Christian tradition, and the way western nations celebrate it incorporates lots of ancient pagan customs. Some of the people who celebrate Christmas happen to be American, but that doesn’t make it an American custom.

    The OP’s friend sounds like a hysterical fool who likes to think she’s being oppressed by other people living their lives.

  • AnaMaria December 16, 2014, 12:02 pm

    As a Christian, I am sick and tired of the manipulative posts I see on social media, such as the, “Share if you love Jesus; Keep scrolling if you reject Him,” or the flaming, “I’m sick and tired of blah blah blah! Share this post if you are unashamed of what you believe! If you don’t post it, than communists will take over America and it will be all your fault!”

    The Bible cleary commands Christians to be unashamed of their faith and ready to die for the cause of Christ, but nowhere does it give us a free pass to yell out what we believe and beg others to “persecute” us so we can cry victim. As a former missionary, I have seen plenty of religious persecution throughout the world (and you don’t have to be a missionary to see it; just turn on the world news!!), and it disgusts me that people get up in arms when someone wishes them “Happy Holidays” and they think it compares to being tortured, killed, or ostracized from society because of your religious beliefs.

    • Robyn December 16, 2014, 5:49 pm

      This is spot on. I cringe when I hear someone express that they feel persecuted because someone wished them a happy holiday. There are many horrible ways people are persecuted for their religious beliefs on a daily basis, up to and including death. Having someone wish you glad tidings in a manner not of your preference is not one of those ways. Some people really need to step back and take a reality check on what religious persecution really is.

      • GeorgiaSusan December 17, 2014, 6:11 am

        I agree with you both. I am so often embarrassed and ashamed of the foolish things others say in the name of Christianity. “Happy Holidays” is a kind thing for people to say and I accept it in kindness. To behave any other way would be ungrateful and ridiculous.
        Those manipulative Facebook posts are the work of troll-like people who are looking for a reaction and hoping to get their inflammatory ideas “shared” as much as possible. I choose to ignore their foolishness.

  • Harley Granny December 16, 2014, 12:08 pm

    I’m not going to dwell on the “I’m An American” part of the comment. I’m chosing to believe that she meant that I’m an American I can choose to celebrate the way I see fit.

    I’m in the “If you want to wish me a great time” camp…it’s fine with me.

    I feel that the Media has played a big part in the whole PC Happy Holiday thing. If you notice the uproar starts just before Halloween and people start getting all up and arms.

    A background story in my family. My brother converted to Judism about 8 years ago…don’t care…as long as he’s happy…I’m good. He took to calling everything “The Holidays” Thinking now that he was being PC. “We’re going to my MIL’s for the Holiday”….ummmm do you mean Hanukkah? Yes….then say it!
    I’ll be at your house for the Holiday!….ummmm do you mean Christmas day? Yes….then say it.
    No one will strike you dead for saying either!
    (Happy Hanukkah at sundown for our Jewish friends BTW)

    In general I do tend to say Enjoy your Holidays as there a quite a few Holidays inbetween Thanksgiving and Jan 5th.

    But if Im wishing them a particular one….I will say it.

    People need to quit letting the media make us crazy!

  • Yarnspinner December 16, 2014, 12:21 pm

    We had a sermon on this subject in church this past Sunday. “Holiday” for us means “Holy Day”. So you are still wishing me a Holy Day if you say “Happy Holidays”.

    While I am sensitive to the fact that the entire country is not Christian, I am also sensitive to the fact that around my (very politically correct) part of the country, we obsess about what we can do to minimize the stress Christmas puts on those of other faiths or no faiths. An elementary school in Massachusetts had removed all religious carols from its “traditional” holiday concert, and so featured songs about Hanukkah, songs about snow, songs about Kwanzaa, but had removed all songs referring to Santa and, in fact, put an end to the tradition of having Santa arrive at the end of the concert to usher in the season.

    Because they might offend someone.

    The people (the jewish, the Islamic, the atheists) who were being “protected” from this offense said “Uh–we aren’t stupid and we don’t have to be protected and we kind of like having Santa, he’s a fun character and our kids adore him.”

    I’m guilty of this myself: I was once instructed to put up an “all inclusive” holiday bulletin board. I agonized for weeks as I painstakingly created figures of various races, genders and religions to sit in a sled with a big sign saying “Happy Holidays.” Around the border I put up short paragraphs with appropriate symbols that told of other holiday traditions. Not just Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and a little of Christmas….but also The Enlightenment of Buddah, Mohammad’s birthday, Boxing Day and Santa Lucia Day…among others. Then I sweated for another week because I may have left someone out.

    A coworker of mine thought I was being ridiculously obsessive until a patron complained that I had forgotten the Winter Solstice….

    • Ergala December 17, 2014, 9:53 am

      I went to my 9 year old’s Christmas concert this year….I think my jaw was on the floor most of the time. The concert opened up with select chorus singing Dreamweaver…and then the songs sung by different grades were ones like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Kindergartners are ADORABLE by the way!) and Let It Go in Spanish. I think maybe 2 or 3 Christmas songs were sung. The bands played jazz songs. My son’s class sang Let It Be..huh??

      When I went to that same school and I was my son’s age we sang He Is Born, Jingle Bell Rock…you name it. The 4th and 5th grade band played two scales this year. That was it. The band instructor is the same one I had and you could tell where all his attention was focused this year, on the stage band. He even played on stage with them (7th and 8th graders). The kids this year were hardly even dressed up. Most kids were in t-shirts and jeans. I remember wearing a white shirt and dark skirt, that was the requirement for the concert. We had our son in a red dress shirt, black tie and black pants. They didn’t even have someone accompany on piano….they instead played a CD that had vocals and the kids attempted to sing over the adult vocal on the track. Come on really??? What ever happened to it being an exciting holiday concert?

  • Willynilly December 16, 2014, 12:39 pm

    I am an agnostic. I was raised in an agnostic home. (For those who don’t understand what agnostic is, basically I’m not an atheist which is a person who is sure there is no god, rather I’m not a believer in any specific religious theory. I think there is some sort of higher power but I make no claims of knowledge of what it is, be it spiritual or simply a force like magnetism or gravity. For me personally “god” is the voice inside me that guides me, god is my hopes and dreams and my push to go on.)

    That said, I love Christmas and I celebrate with gusto every year. I don’t however celebrate it as a Christian holiday, but rather as a secular one. I do not decorate with or include a nativity scene. For me, Christmas is a the popular notion that has been developed by and expanded by several cultures and traditions to be a festive celebration of warmth, love, generosity, connecting with friends & family, feasting & merry making, decorating with light and greenery and bright colors, etc.

    Christmas to me is the whole season, and to me it includes the other holidays celebrated this time of year. Just like the words “man” or “men” can mean just adult males, they can also mean all of humanity – women and children included (ie mankind), so too to me does “Christmas” have dual meanings – the specific Christian mass of the Christ, but ALSO the season of joy and celebration that encompasses all the celebrations in December.

    Obviously I therefore have no problem with either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” – to me they all mean the exact same thing: I wish you joy and love during this time of celebration.

    • Bane December 17, 2014, 10:08 pm

      That’s not quite what atheist and agnostic mean. I am both an agnostic and an atheist

      Theism = belief (or lack thereof)
      Gnosticism = knowledge (or lack thereof)

      So, I have no belief in a God (atheist), but I don’t know for sure (agnostic). For the record, I feel the same way about unicorns, and for the same reasons

  • lakey December 16, 2014, 12:53 pm

    I feel that this is a phony controversy ginned up by people who are looking for something to be offended at. I’m as conservative as anyone, and a practicing Catholic. I’ve never had anyone suggest that I not say “Merry Christmas”, or act offended by my saying it. I know plenty of people who are Jewish, atheists, or just non-church goers. My parents had next door neighbors who were Muslim. None of them seem to consider this a serious issue. Where exactly are all these people who are telling us not to say, “Merry Christmas”?

    I suppose an employer might prefer “Happy Holidays.” That’s their right. But frankly, I don’t know anyone whose employer has told them not to say, “Merry Christmas.”

    Live and let live.

  • Katie December 16, 2014, 12:56 pm

    I’m atheist, but we celebrate secular Christmas. I usually wish people a merry Christmas because thas what I celebrate. I don’t get offended if other people wish me something else, why would I? I was once at a work function with a majority of Jewish people attending (the owner’s Israeli family) and was wished a happy Hanukkah many times. I was not offended in the least! I’m also not offended by public nativity scenes, though I know some atheists are. To me, it is just something so small. Save your battles for the big stuff! My mother (agnostic) puts up a nativity scene in her home every year and includes a tiny Yoda figurine since it is the same scale as the other figures. Everyone who has seen it thinks it’s hilarious, even Christians. Christmas should be a time of coming together, not driving others away with drummed up offenses!

    • TaterTot December 16, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Merry Christmas…and may the force be with you!

    • Jay December 16, 2014, 8:30 pm

      We have nativity Vader here! DH has a very, very old family nativity set he inherited from his grandmother, and although we’re not very religious, he puts it up every year in memory of her. One year, his Darth Vader ornament lost its hook and he put it with the nativity set to look for it … then decided to leave it there.

      My very Catholic MIL thinks it’s hysterical. And not unfitting, really. After all, isn’t the story all about redemption? 🙂

  • EchoGirl December 16, 2014, 1:02 pm

    Count me among those who are exceptionally fed up with this Christian persecution complex. My family is Jewish but my dad was born Christian, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, and it’s pretty clear to me that people who celebrate Christmas have a societal advantage, and when people who don’t celebrate Christmas try to balance the scales, all of a sudden people are screaming about the “war on Christmas”. Seriously, what they’re talking about is a sliver of what people who are anything but Christian have experienced every year since national holidays became a thing.

    No, I don’t think people should be told what greetings to give, but I’ve recently noticed people in a convenience store near me all saying “have a great day and be well” to all customers. Think that’s not canned? It’s an issue whether the greeting in question is holiday-related or not.

    • CW December 17, 2014, 12:52 am

      If people are genuinely bothered by “have a great day and be well” I hope they never come to the southern part of the US. I hear “…and have a blessed day.” at least a handful of times a day. I’m not a very religious person to begin with but I can’t get offended by someone simply wishing me well. Typically I just smile and say something along the lines of “I hope you do the same.” Find offense where it’s warranted. (Someone tearing down the nativity in your yard for example.)

      • EchoGirl December 17, 2014, 1:26 pm

        It’s not that I’m bothered by that, I’m not, it’s that upthread a lot of what people are saying is “but the manager/owner/whoever MAKES US say this specific holiday greeting instead of that one”, so I’m just trying to point out that this happens all the time, not just when it comes to saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

        • CW December 17, 2014, 3:52 pm

          Oh, I didn’t mean you specifically, just that if a person is going to get grumpy over a greeting or send-off (holiday related or not), they should probably never leave the house or answer their phone.

  • Phoebe161 December 16, 2014, 1:04 pm

    From my Christian point of view, in the US, Christmas is a secular holiday. The federal government cannot make a particular day a *religious* holiday, just a holiday. Many Christians and non-Christians observe “Christmas” in their own way — primarily by decorating and exchanging gifts. Most of the way we observe Christmas in *not* truly “Christian.” Greenery, Christmas trees, yule logs, etc is pagan in origin. Even the time of year coincides with ancient pagan holidays. Yes, many Christians try to “keep the Christ in Christmas,” but still have the non-Christian elements. So, I really don’t see the big deal of saying “Merry Christmas,” Happy Holidays,” or some other phrase. I am tired of the strident PC-people insisting on being non-offensive until we are afraid to say anything that could possibly construed as offensive. I am tired of overly-religious people trying to cram their flavor of religion down my throat. Some people need to grow a thicker skin and others need to learn to shut their mouths. Be thankful that once a year people are wishing you good wishes or blessing you or giving to various charities or having get-togethers.

    Two thousand years ago the angels sang “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.” Let’s practice a little of that please.

  • Phitius December 16, 2014, 1:14 pm

    The only war on Christmas-anything I want to wage is on the darn music being played in stores starting in October.

    • Goldie December 16, 2014, 5:19 pm

      Yes, this*1000! I thoroughly enjoyed this music during our first Christmas season after we came to the US in the late 90s. Somehow I didn’t realize it then that I’d have to listen to those same songs on infinite loop in every store in November and December of every year.

    • Cat December 17, 2014, 10:44 am

      It’s Hallothanksmas”. It starts in August and runs through December. I have started hanging a witch and a turkey on my Christmas tree. We used to have three separate holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Now they are all rolled into one big shopping spree for food and gifts.
      I shall go sit in front of my dying Christmas tree and eat candy out of a sock to celebrate this.

      • NostalgicGal December 20, 2014, 11:01 pm

        Add Back to School in the mix.

        BaktaHalloThankMas… and a happy Boxing Day to you too!

  • Vicki December 16, 2014, 1:16 pm

    Nobody is stopping Ben Stein from saying “Happy Hanukkah”—though he might want to think about taking a holiday that is about resisting assimilation and using it as a “Jewish Christmas,” rather than wishing everyone “Happy New Year” at Rosh Hashanah, or inviting them to a meal in his sukkah. Yes, there’s an American holiday this time of year: we celebrate it on the fourth Thursday in November, by presidential proclamation.

    I’m an atheist, but if someone wishes me “Merry Christmas” I’ll say “thanks” or “same to you” or “Happy New Year.” New Year is a genuinely secular holiday–secular doesn’t mean atheist or anti-religious, it means not of a religion.

    On the other hand, if I wish someone “happy holidays” and they say “it’s Christmas” in an aggressive way, I will probably point out that no, it’s not Christmas, today is St. Lucia Day or Pearl Harbor Day or the second night of Hanukkah or just December 19th, Christmas isn’t until the 25th. Or possibly tell them that I meant to include Happy New Year, but if they would rather have a miserable new year, that’s their right. I am not going to surrender to the forces of the War on “Happy Holidays.”

  • White Lotus December 16, 2014, 1:30 pm

    The winter solstice is a natural phenomenon and people have celebrated it from the time they first noticed it. We — Buddhists — celebrate New Year’s, often twice (solar and lunar). I personally love Kwanzaa because it gives a nice, value-oriented run-up to New Year’s at a time when, after months of what feels like a greed fest, it all just…stops. Now I am getting the impression that we are not allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa because we aren’t African-American. Why the heck not? Why shouldn’t everybody celebrate whatever they want, however they want? What is wrong with fun, and what is wrong with celebrating the religious holidays of your choice — as long as you don’t try to force your beliefs on others? To me, this is what America is about!
    I go with that flow chart. You say happy/Merry whatever to me, and I will say, “Thank you, you too.” What I do not like is pushing a particular religion in public schools, and it happens, oh, boy, does it happen. I don’t like religious tests for political candidates. I don’t like the notion that I am not patriotic because I am not a Christian. I don’t like the idea that there are two teams here: fundamentalist Christians (who often hate other Christians, especially Catholics) and people who call themselves atheists, but really are fighting with the Christian deity. I do not like revisionist history. I would prefer that specifically religious displays stay off public property, but hey — YOU celebrate whatever you want, and so will I.
    And I hope we all have a wonderful time.

  • Kathryn December 16, 2014, 1:53 pm

    I’m an American and a Catholic, and I celebrate Christmas. I love the festive vibe of this time of year — all the decorations, buying/making presents, sending cards, listening to holiday music, baking cookies — but to be perfectly honest, all of that is very separate in my mind from my religious observation of Christmas. It’s like two different things: in one category is the office Secret Santa, watching “Love Actually” and “Elf,” putting up lights, braving the mall, etc.; and then in another category is Midnight Mass, prayerfully observing Advent, and my own personal religious devotions. I know a lot of Christians don’t feel this way, but for me, the secular observance of Christmas and the religious observance of Christmas are two completely different things. That being said, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest how others choose to greet me (or not) at this time of year. I don’t feel like my own holiday observances are being threatened or disrespected if someone else chooses to say “happy holidays,” “happy Hannukah,” “happy Yule,” “season’s greetings,” etc. etc. or whatever. I think that people who get bent out of shape when someone else is simply expressing a friendly sentiment that does not align 100% with their own worldview is just mean spirited and completely missing the point of the holiday season in general. Can’t we all just accept a nice thought for what it is and move on with life? If it makes you that uncomfortable to be wished a merry Christmas when you don’t celebrate Christmas, or to NOT be wished a merry Christmas when you do, then with all due respect, I think you need to sort out your priorities.

  • Tyler December 16, 2014, 2:16 pm

    I agreed with everything up until the Ben Stein quote. Religious people are not “pushed around” in the U.S. They are the majority, and nothing is being “shoved down [their] throat.”

  • magicdomino December 16, 2014, 2:28 pm

    ” Where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand him? ”

    So, who are Nick and Jessica, and why are people worshipping them?

    • Cora December 16, 2014, 5:04 pm

      The “Nick and Jessica” reference is from about a decade ago — which points out just how long this debate has been happening — referring to Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, two pop singers who got married in 2002 and divorced in 2005. They had a reality TV show that followed them around while they were married, which was supposed to be a window into their terribly glamorous life but turned out to be watching them sitting around eating tuna fish and bickering about which Gap t-shirt to wear today. Yes, it really was THAT lame, hence Ben Stein’s point.

      • David December 17, 2014, 12:18 am

        Is that the woman that thought ‘Chicken of the Sea’ was might be chicken? Or is that someone else?

        • Cora December 18, 2014, 11:50 am

          Hi David — yes, Jessica Simpson is the chick who thought “Chicken of the Sea” tuna fish was chicken. You know, the kind bred to be able to breathe underwater.

      • Jessica December 17, 2014, 9:32 am

        Jessica is also one of the many names given to Mrs. Claus, Santa Claus is also called St. Nick. So it’s possible he’s talking about Mr. and Mrs. Claus, aka, Nick and Jessica. Or at least that’s what I thought when I read the quote. But your explanation makes more sense..

      • MamaToreen December 17, 2014, 9:58 am

        I thought he meant Nick and Jessica from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Jessica was the name they gave Mrs. Claus

    • Goldie December 16, 2014, 5:21 pm

      I’m curious too. Who are they? Maybe I want to worship them and don’t know it.

  • Jenny Islander December 16, 2014, 2:59 pm

    Christian here. The so-called War On Christmas annoys me because while my fellow Christians in certain denominations (not mine) are fulminating about not being wished a merry Christmas as if it were somehow an attack on their religious freedom, it’s Advent. Christmas begins on December 25 and not before!

    Meanwhile some of the same people are playing a mixture of secular Holiday songs and pop-flavored remixes of religious carols on their special radio stations, for an entire month. Brethren. Sistren. Could you please spare a thought to taking the ads out of Advent?

    • Nicolek December 18, 2014, 11:03 am

      Round here xmas is celebrated the 24th

      • Cat December 18, 2014, 6:52 pm

        The Romans believed the new day began with the stroke of midnight between the two days; the Greeks believed the new day began at dawn; and the Jews believed the new day began at sundown of the previous day so that, using their time-table, Christmas would begin at sundown on the 24th and would continue until sundown on the 25th.

  • koolchicken December 16, 2014, 3:01 pm

    I’ve known a lot of people over the years who are not Christian, and for the most part they did not mind me saying Merry Christmas. The only people I’ve ever known, who had an issue with it were atheists. Which is weird to me. Because it’s not like I was saying “I hope you die!” I was trying to be nice. Saying Merry Christmas also becomes habit this time of year, so it slips out from time to time. I’m not trying to force religion on anyone.

    And for the record I do try to be culturally sensitive. But for me that means wishing someone I know is Jewish a Happy Haunakka. Or if they celebrate Kwanza, or Ramadan, or the Winter Solstice, or anything else I remember and recognize it. Saying Happy Holidays just seems insincere to me. Say it if you mean it, but I won’t be doing it.

  • Gamer Girl December 16, 2014, 3:13 pm

    I’ve seen these posts all over Facebook as well, and they make me fairly irritated.
    I say “Happy Holidays” and just let the chips fall where they may. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and others celebrate it, but on a different calendar.
    My side of the family is Catholic, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, Pagan and some follow the wisdom of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. We celebrate the holiday season on December 25th.
    My husband’s family is Eastern Orthodox (Greek and Russian). They don’t even celebrate Christmas until January 7th but ALWAYS recognize the season in December for the family members of different faiths.
    My son is being raised in both religions, so we gather with the in-laws for Christmas Eve celebrations (mostly for the grandchildren to get presents and the adults to eat cookies), have Christmas morning in our home, and then at mid-day, meet up with my family at my parent’s house for Christmas dinner and more presents (again, mostly for the grandkids).
    The point is, we believe in “the more the merrier” and celebrating the season as an extended family. We’ve celebrated Hanukkah with Jewish friends, gone to Winter Solstice and Yule celebrations with Pagan friends. I’ve had Chinese food and noodles with my Flying Spaghetti Monster buddies (what a wild party that was!)
    Saying Happy Holidays isn’t a “war on Christmas”, it’s including everyone in the season.

  • K December 16, 2014, 3:17 pm

    I celebrate Christmas, but have always been a Happy Holidays person, because it’s more inclusive, and because there are a number of holidays this time of year. In my family, the holidays (plural!) are Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s. Like others here, I can’t imagine being offended at any expression of well-wishing. And my goodness, of course people can say whatever they choose in their personal lives! If I know an acquaintance celebrates a particular holiday, or can tell what a stranger celebrates (like if they’re wearing seasonal apparel), I’ll give them wishes particular to their holiday if the mood strikes. Tempest in a teapot.

    The more interesting issue, I think, is the rebranding of Christmas trees into holiday trees – part of a larger trend of taking Christmas traditions, removing the word Christmas, then pretending the result is more inclusive. (Much like Disney is doing this season by, in some of their promotional materials, rebranding Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party into Mickey’s Very Merry Party.) To my mind, decorating a Douglas fir in red and green lights, covering it with ball ornaments and putting a star on top, then calling it a Holiday Tree is inclusive in word only. Rather than being truly inclusive, I think these gestures are the worst of both worlds: they continue to treat Christmas as the holiday norm, while pretending (weakly) to celebrate diversity.

    • JeanFromBNA December 22, 2014, 7:47 pm

      A little late to the not-a-Christmas party, but I was at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party last week, and I just checked my tickets: they say Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Most Cast Members wished DH and I Merry Christmas. The Candlelight Processional at Epcot still celebrated the very non-secular birth of Christ with traditional carols.

      But I am sick of all of the Frozen stuff, and “Let It Go” is an earworm that I can’t get out of my head. Bah! Humbug!

  • ColoradoCloudy December 16, 2014, 3:37 pm

    I am a conservative, evangelical Christian. I don’t like those sorts of Facebook posts, either. I have no problem with someone wishing me Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or anything as long as they are nice. Actually, when people wish me Happy Chanukah or Kwanzaa, I find it very touching, to feel that someone is sharing their joy with me. I’ve never in all my years had anyone not accept a Merry Christmas from me, or yell at me or even frown at me.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t stop seeing someone I describe as a “dear friend” over such a post. I might ask about it on the phone or in person- just letting her know that it’s made you feel slightly attacked. It might help her to understand that all non-Christians aren’t out to snatch away her Christmas tree.

    • Jared Bascomb December 18, 2014, 11:10 pm

      As someone who is probably your polar opposite, ColoradoCloudy, hugs to you.

  • Katana December 16, 2014, 3:41 pm

    This happens every year! This same debate, happens every year! Can we finally put it to bed this year, perhaps?

    • Cat December 17, 2014, 5:01 pm

      I have thought it over and I like the Vulcan greeting,”Live long and prosper!” I always thought that was a nice wish to have for someone.
      Of course, I am old and that was popular in my youth because of “Star Trek”.

  • Angel December 16, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I always appreciate the Ben Stein quote. Ironically I ran into him a few years ago in front of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center lol. So that’s why I know it to be accurate.

    The way I see it Christmas is for everyone. Some people look at it as purely religious, some people look at it as more secular, with Santa Claus and all that stuff. Some look at it as both. Some people don’t celebrate it at all but can still appreciate the festivities and are certainly not offended by a tree or some garland. I think folks just say “Happy Holidays” because they aren’t sure what you celebrate and it covers the whole season–Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. I am not offended by any of this and for the life of me cannot understand why anyone else would be–whether they celebrate Christmas or not. When I send out holiday cards I use “Merry Christmas” because I sending them to family and friends–I know what they celebrate because we have a relationship. I work in retail and I tend to say “happy holidays” at the end of a transaction this time of year–because I don’t have personal relationships with most of our customers and do not know what they celebrate. Unless they say “Merry Christmas” to me first, in which case I will say it back to them. Sometimes I say “happy holidays” and they say “merry Christmas” back to me, in which case I will smile and say it back to them. It doesn’t seem to matter as long as you are friendly and say with a smile. Especially the little old ladies, they are just happy to be out I think 🙂

  • Kirst December 16, 2014, 4:43 pm

    The idea that celebrating Christian festivals offends followers of other religions is nonsense, in my experience. I don’t know many Jews, but I have met many Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, and not one of them has ever uttered a word against Christmas celebrations. Muslims in particular recognise Christmas because Jesus is recognised as a holy prophet in Islam and he is mentioned lots of times in the Qu’raan. Most people of faith respect that other people’s faith is sincerely held and have no objection to religious festivals being celebrated.

  • Goldie December 16, 2014, 5:24 pm

    Just wanted to say that I am really enjoying reading this thread. It is the most peaceful, ecumenical, informative, discussion on the subject I’ve seen in a while. Keep up the good work, e-hellions!

  • Lucretia December 16, 2014, 6:36 pm

    I get a bit lost on the whole Facebook madness on Christmas traditions that flies around this time of year. You get “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “If you don’t like Christmas trees or say ‘Merry Christmas’ the communists / terrorists/ bad guys win” posts, and sometimes they feel like they’re way out of left field. (Sorry, fellow Americans, the Christmas tree is a German tradition. George Washington didn’t have one.) I tend to assume that the only thing to do with this type of post is to graciously ignore it, because many people repost or like without actually reading it. If I run into people who believe this (and working at a restaurant in high school and college, I certainly did run into people who would pontificate at length about ‘Happy Holidays’), I just smile and bean dip if at all possible. If someone wants to go on about how a holiday not being celebrated to their specification is ruining their holiday, I suppose I must agree with them. Their holiday is ruined. They said so. Mine isn’t, but it isn’t because I didn’t try to be courteous. If they want to feel persecuted, go on ahead. I’ll be over here, enjoying my holiday with friends and family, while they flail at … whatever it is they’re flailing at.

    • History Buff December 17, 2014, 4:11 pm

      Speaking of George Washington, I’m surprised no one mentioned that once wrote a letter to a Jewish congregation in 1790 that included, “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

      Basically, even Washington himself didn’t believe that American tradition equals Christian tradition. (Part of why I hate all these “there’s a War on Christmas and thus a war on AMERICA” facebook posts.)

      And to all of you lovely fellow commenters, “May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

  • Gabriele December 16, 2014, 7:06 pm

    I’ve been in France in late November and again in late December and all the holiday displays are non-religious because a law passed in the early 1900s made France a lay nation. Which means that religion and religious practices are for the individual, not the state. All the churches which were historical monuments became national monuments but the denomination (‘cult’, to the French) were allowed to continue to utilize them for the purposes they had before. So the RC church can hold its observances but without any support from the government (aside from support for the care and maintenance of the structures themselves). There are still conflicts. In a small rural town there are several churches, one which has not been used for religious activity in some time but when a local arts group wanted to use the facility (not including the actual worhip area) for an art show, the local priest stopped it. The conflict is ongoing. The local council and mayor have refused to support any maintenance for the structure and won’t pay the power bills.
    When a new ship is commissioned, it’s not ‘christened’, it’s named. The person (someone of some standing) will not say ‘keep this ship and her crew in our prayers’, they will say ‘keep (them) in our thoughts’.
    France no longer supports the RC schools because they offered (insisted on) religious education. All the Catholic schools were closed.
    What has happened (I have discussed this with friends on both sides) is that those who want to be involved in a religion can do so and those that choose that are often very involved, rather than just Christmas and Easter Christians.
    The state DOES investigate various new cults to see if they are of benefit to its citizens or if the cult activities limit the rights granted by the state.
    So the Solar Temple was closely watched and a certain US ‘religion’ is not given that standing in France.
    Of course France lived through the religious wars (and histories of great abuses of power) so they had more reasons for the law that was past.

    So when I see pictures of small towns in the areas I used to visit lit up with the festive lights, there will be stars and other images and they’re pretty enough that they don’t have to mean anything. And the store windows in the large Paris department stores are wonderful, creative places and if people want to see a creche, well chances are there’s a church nearby where a nativity scene will be set out for the believers (and visitors) to enjoy.
    One woman I spoke with (I love old churches of any kind even if I’m not RC) said her faith meant more to her bcause she had a choice.
    I might also add that there are various celebrations in Paris for other faith/events, notably the Hindu communities’ events. The parades are colorful, entertaining and are not meant to be indoctrinating, only enjoyable.

  • Yet Another Laura December 16, 2014, 7:06 pm

    I’d bet anything that your friend didn’t post this in a status update in which she typed each word herself, but shared a graphic that came from a third party. These memes are all alike. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, it’s someone else’s words on some non-issue or another presented in as inflammatory a manner as possible. The subtext seems to be daring people to disagree.

    You could make such a meme about kittens and it would be just as inflammatory based on how it’s presented.

    Do you have a positive relationship with this friend outside social media? Then ignore the post and don’t engage. If this person never seems to post anything in their own words, you may want to “Hide All Posts By” your friend. That way, you’re not unfriending them so they won’t look at their friend list and wonder why you’re not on it. You’re just not rising to the bait – and not even seeing the bait. Engage with them only in realspace.

  • Selkie December 16, 2014, 8:23 pm

    There’s a fairly large difference between someone freely wishing someone else ‘Happy Holidays’, and someone demanding that other people also use ‘Happy Holidays’, and the original Facebook post appears to miss that completely. If someone is angry at being told their chosen expression is wrong, surely the answer is not to go out and tell other people that their chosen expression is wrong? If I happen to know what holiday someone is celebrating – and in my own circle of friends there are actually four different holidays people celebrate – I’ll give my best wishes to them for that holiday. If I don’t know, I offer a greeting that I’m comfortable with, and as I’m not Christian (and not American either, actually), that will usually be a simple ‘happy holidays’, sincerely meant.

  • Calli Arcale December 16, 2014, 8:30 pm

    I have a Muslim coworker; he participates in the company Christmas festivities, on the quite reasonable basis that he is an engineer and engineers will almost never pass up free food. 😉 (He is observant, though, and politely declines food-based invitations during Ramadan.) His family does the Santa thing at home, even though they are not Christian, because that’s about making little kids smile more than anything else, and honestly, the thing he is more than anything else is a *grandpa*.

    I get depressed by the “manufactroversy” about the “war on Christmas”. So much of it is entirely made-up outrage. “Happy Holidays” originated in the Victorian era, when Christmas celebration came to encompass Lent, Christmas (all twelve days, ending on January 6), Epiphany, and sometimes all the way out to Candlemas (early February — I’m guessing it got boring in the winter). Because there *was* more than one Christian holiday in that season, and you weren’t supposed to say Merry Christmas until Christmas Eve.

    Xmas is another they tend to get upset over, and that’s even more ancient — Xmas was an abbreviation developed before the English language even existed in a recognizable form, because paper was expensive. “X” was a widely-used shorthand for “Christ”, and properly speaking, it was the Greek letter chi, not the Roman x — it’s the first letter of “Christos” in Greek.

    And if anyone thinks Christians are persecuted in America, then for goodness sakes they need to get a serious grip.

    • Green123 December 17, 2014, 6:11 am

      “I have a Muslim coworker; he participates in the company Christmas festivities, on the quite reasonable basis that he is an engineer and engineers will almost never pass up free food.”

      Ha! I work with web developers quite a bit, and we have the same logic! Lots of our guys are Hindu, and the smells and tastes in the office around Diwali are mouthwatering – waaaaaay more interesting than the current Christmas chocolate binge our offices are enjoying.

  • Wendy December 17, 2014, 2:03 am

    I as a general rule don’t care what people say or do, it doesn’t hurt me and I simply laugh when the media or government go to PC and start trying to ban things seriously just about every time they try to not put up decorations at christmas everyone of any denomination kicks up a fuss.
    The only time I have been offended is when individuals have tried to have the childcare or school their child attends ban christmas i.e no concerts, no carols or decorations ignore it all together. This then generally makes the news and I believe is what instigates Facebook posts like the one given by the OP.
    I find though as a rule that most people are happy to live and let live and the rest just like to cause drama.

  • Maggie December 17, 2014, 2:13 am

    Happy Saturnalia everyone!

    • The Elf December 17, 2014, 8:05 am

      I don’t know why Saturnalia doesn’t have more of a following. Any holiday that features orgies is one we can all get behind.

      Hey, puns are told for the joy of the teller, not the listener.

    • Cat December 17, 2014, 10:39 am

      I see you have been to our office party. Wheee!

      • MamaToreen December 18, 2014, 10:16 am

        I wanna work with you guys!

    • NostalgicGal December 18, 2014, 5:02 pm

      Have a merry one and… don’t do—what I WOULD

      Enjoy

  • Margo December 17, 2014, 5:30 am

    I think one of the issues is that while the majority of people who say ‘Merry Christmas’ do so simply to wish people well, and the majority of non-christians are unoffended and take it as a nice gesture, there are small minorities on each side who do have an agenda, and once you have been in the firing line of one of them, you tend to become a little more sensitive on the issue.

  • delislice December 17, 2014, 8:38 am

    And for what it’s worth, count me among those who are fed up with American Christians insisting that they are being persecuted because not everyone adheres to their personal beliefs and practices.

    There’s a big difference between sincerely held beliefs — and thinking that *everyone else* should hold those beliefs. I’ve seen video of teen girls being beaten and hanged for being of a certain faith in a certain country. Don’t for one minute tell me you’re being persecuted.

    • admin December 23, 2014, 10:07 am

      The perceived persecution has nothing to do with compelling others to adhere to Christian beliefs but rather the right to practice their own beliefs without government meddling and legal entanglements. I don’t have time to detail it now but there are considerable number of cases where Christians had zoning laws enacted to stifle church worship or home meetings, business licenses revoked, civil lawsuits, their freedom of speech curtailed or even denied, freedom of association denied. In the private sector, it is common for news media to deliberately edit out any reference to faith or Jesus Christ from a person’s statement,etc.

  • Lisa December 17, 2014, 9:12 am

    I am a Christian and I am SO sick of hearing about “the war on Christmas.” There isn’t one.

    I don’t care if someone wishes me Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or whatever, as long as they mean well. And I don’t know a single Jewish person who is offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas” either.

    My MIL sent me an email urging everyone to walk out of a store without buying anything unless it says Merry Christmas in the window. So Jewish people can’t buy their Hanukkah gifts there? Stupid.

  • Cat December 17, 2014, 10:37 am

    This is one of those issues which, if we put our minds to it, we can beat it to death and stomp on the grave. Who needs to worry about gun control when we are so busy trying to kill one another with words?
    So-the English say “Happy Christmas” because, to them, the word “Merry” indicates intoxication. We must give them the impression that we are all a bunch of drunks. Christmas is a shortened version of “Christ’s Mass”, which, unless you are Catholic or very high church, is something you don’t attend anyway. Since everyone involved in the nativity of Christ was Jewish except for the three kings and the angels, it strikes me as odd that we have somehow turned them, retroactively, into Christians. As a Jewish friend of mine always says, “For a nice Jewish boy, such a success!” Christmas trees were made popular by a German prince named Albert who married Queen Victoria of England. It’s about as Christian as an elf with reindeer and a habit of giving toys to children. Those statues that show Santa Claus worshiping at the Infant’s crib strike me as extremely odd. Give me St. Nicolas any day of the week, but I have no problem with the elf if he makes children happy and well-behaved.
    Let’s just be happy with whatever holiday we, as individuals, celebrate. As the man said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

    • Kirst December 17, 2014, 2:18 pm

      Um no, in Britain the traditional greeting is “Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.” Lots of people say “happy Christmas” but it has nothing to do with worrying that “merry” implies intoxicated.

      • Cat December 17, 2014, 4:52 pm

        We’ll have to disagree on that one. I lived in Godalming, Guildford, and London for years; and I never heard anyone say “Merry Christmas”. I was told that it is,”Happy Christmas” because merry indicates drink. I stood corrected. No American says, “Happy Christmas”.
        The Harry Potter movies used the typical American greeting except in a few places where someone will say Happy Christmas. It was noted in the explanation of English customs, like Christmas crackers, for the Potter movies.
        Where in England do you live? I know folks from Northern England will specify a family member by referring to him/ her as “Our Gillian” or “Our Tom”. Maybe it’s peculiar to your region.

        • Kirst December 20, 2014, 12:41 pm

          I lived in England for 20 years, in Yorkshire, Kent and Liverpool, and Scotland for 23 years, in Fife and Edinburgh. The traditional greeting has always been “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” – “Happy Christmas and Happy New Year” would sound ridiculous. Nobody gives a monkey’s what the Queen thinks, and probably the only people who would object to the word “merry” on the grounds it implies alcohol are the strictest Scottish presbyterians who object to pretty much everything fun. I’m not sure why anyone would consider the Queen low-church given that she’s head of the high church, and I would question the reliability of your sources.

      • Cat December 18, 2014, 6:47 pm

        I Googled it and found this, “Queen Elizabeth, a woman of serious low-church piety, is said to prefer “Happy Christmas” to “Merry” because she dislikes “Merry’s” connotation of boisterousness, even slight intoxication. She wishes her British subjects a “Happy Christmas” in her annual Christmas broadcasts.”
        Far be it from me to upset the Her Majesty, the Queen. I’ll use “Happy Christmas” when I go over the pond.

      • Tracy W December 19, 2014, 6:51 am

        Not to mention that most Brits I know regard intoxification as a rather pleasant state. Americans come across as overly Puritan and absteimous.

        • Cat December 19, 2014, 6:34 pm

          The ones I know are into tea and warm beer. Iced tea is seen as a sin against tea.
          I did get a lot of flak about America’s late entry into WWII-they didn’t understand isolationism at all. They also thought we do too much laundry.
          I never heard the abstemious part; and I would not have believed it if I had. Most of us are way too fat to think that of us. I also know too many people in AA and NA.

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