Happy Holidays?– Forget you! It’s Merry Christmas!

I got the title of this post from a comedy show I was watching on TV. One character wished the second character “Happy Holidays.” The second character replied, “I have been wanting to say this for a while but; Forget you! It’s Merry Christmas.” The audience erupted into applause.

This debate has been raging in recent years and frankly, I fall on the “Merry Christmas” side. I am not shy about saying “Merry Christmas” and I try to buy Christmas cards that in some way celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord. However, I had to pause and think, “Have I ever been on the other side?”

Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, etc.

At my school, I have a Jewish teacher who celebrates all of the Jewish holidays. Furthermore, she has a remarkable way of sharing the joy of her faith with us without in anyway offending us or diminishing our Catholic identity. During Rosh Hashanah, it is natural for me to wish her a Happy New Year. During Yom Kippur it is common for the rest of the faculty to include her in our prayers for atonement. She gives gifts during the appropriate holidays and I rather enjoy her gestures.

At the same time, she is part of the congregation at our school Masses, she attends the faculty Christmas party and never responds to a wish of, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” with a “Forget you, I am Jewish.” She says “Thank you” and reciprocates the greeting.

It occurred to me, what is wrong with my colleague and me wishing that one another has a nice day and grows closer to God in the process.? Whether that day be Christmas, Easter or Yom Kippur, no one should be offended if someone else is sincerely expressing wishes of goodwill.

The Holiday is Christmas!

In summary, I am not going to stop saying Merry Christmas for fear of offending anyone. It is Christmas, not a generic holiday.  No one should be offended by my “Merry Christmas.”  My expression of goodwill should be accepted and appreciated, whether you are Christian or not.  Furthermore, most of the time when I initiate a “Merry Christmas”, I get a “Merry Christmas” in return.  Even if you are not Christian, what is wrong with me hoping that December 25th is a nice day for you?  There is really nothing wrong with that.  I mean well.

They will know we are Christians by our love

I think most people say, “Happy Holidays” because they fear offending. My fellow Christians, let us not be part of the fear. Don’t get offended by “Happy Holidays” and please, don’t get angry.  Simply reply with a “Merry Christmas” and they will know we are Christians by our love.  However, if someone does gets offended by your kind gesture, in that rare case, forget him! It’s Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

13 Replies to “Happy Holidays?– Forget you! It’s Merry Christmas!”

  1. We went to buy our Christmas tree from a Catholic church in Silver Spring. TSP = Tree-Selling Parishioner, DH = my husband

    DH pays for the tree.

    TSP: Thank you, sir and have a happy holiday.
    DH: We’re standing in front of a CATHOLIC CHURCH and we just bought a CHRISTMAS TREE. I think you can say “Merry Christmas.”
    TSP: oh….I guess you’re right. Merry Christmas!
    DH: Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

    1. Wow – TSP was scared of offending someone who clearly would not be offended by “Merry Christmas.” Tell your husband thank you for heeding my advice – even before I gave it! Merry Christmas!

  2. Some of my favorite Christmas memories are of the Christmas parties my family hosted when I was a child. One of my family’s closest friends lived across the street. My mom and the mother of that family are still the best of friends and I am still very close to the daughters. They were Jewish. They’d come to our party and help decorate our Christmas tree, on which hung two uique ornaments- a dradle and a menora. We’d sing Christmas songs and also sang Dradle, Dradle with them. We’d light our Advent candle and they’d light their menora. I don’t remember any of our Christian friends being offended by the inclusion of some Jewish traditions too.

    One of the daughters got married to a Christian and invited us to a Christmas party at their house. It was treat to give her those very ornaments to hang on her tree. In fact, (in later years) it was I who taught her children the Dradle song.

    1. Anon,

      Thank you for your comment. Many Catholics do not appreciate the Jewish roots of our faith. Even the Mass itself is in many ways a passover meal. Remember – Our boss is a Jewish Carpenter. Merry Christmas!

  3. Sadly, I’ve been wished “Happy Holidays” by fellow parishioners as we walked into Midnight Mass!! I think it is all a matter of habit and if people have been schooled to say “Happy Holidays” because their employer demands it, that is what they will say all of the time.

    1. Demanding that Christians refrain from saying Merry Christmas makes me wonder if such employers come to work on December 25th. I bet they don’t.

  4. My boss told me not to wish anybody “Happy Thanksgiving” at work because it is a christian celebration and might offend others. I replied that it is a federal and historical celebration because the public school celebrates it with the school children but she insisted that I stop.

    I am not originally from this country and my husband and I lived in Singapore for seven years and we were invited by Muslims, Buddhists, Indians etc. for religious or festive celebrations. We always made an effort to read up on their cultures, greeted them appropriately and brought the right gifts. I do not understand what this big fuss is all about. With globalization and advanced technology, the only time I will get upset is if somebody is saying something to me in an antagonistic manner in a language that I do not understand! Even then, all that I would say is:”Same to you!”

    1. I really don’t get what is “offensive” about our faith. In Spanish, “a dios” means “go with God.” Will your boss one day tell you to stop saying “good bye” to people because in some languages, “good bye” invokes the name of God?

  5. I wish my brother and sister Christians (according to if they follow the Gregorian or Julian calendar) a happy Christmas and others the appropriate greeting respecting their practices. As for what default greeting to give to strangers, I put my energy into having more friends and less strangers in my life.

    I have overheard people wishing the parish priest “happy holidays” but would consider it a greater offense for me to turn around and start lecturing them. I am quite scandalized by certain activist groups that demand store clerks wish a “Merry Christmas” to each shopper.

    1. Kurt,

      I agree. That is why it is so important for us to not get angry. However, no one should be offended by a “Merry Christmas” either.

  6. I’m not sure which is weirder: The paranoid notion on the part of many “Its Christmas”ers that the phrase “Happy Holidays” is a calculated and painstakingly conspired attack on their belief systems, or the fact that anybody’s paying attention to such claims. Have they never even consdier the far less insidious – and much more rational – truth, that “Happy Holidays” is simply a warm yet concise way of acknowledging ALL the holidays – from Thanksgiving through New Year’s – marked during this holiday-laden season? You know, the HOLIDAY SEASON?! Personally, I bid Happy Holidays to people beginning shortly before Thanksgiving and have been know say, “I hope your Holidays were terrific,” up to a fortnight after the year has turned. Most everything in our culture is being framed as a death-cage battle with nothing less than eternal implications; must this be, as well?

    1. Tony,

      I think we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Very few people are calculating an attack on Christianity. However, I think for those who are openly offended by a “Merry Christmas”, a defense of the faith is warranted.

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