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Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Dec 01, 2016 01:04AM
It would seem the world is divided into two camps: people who say "Merry Christmas" and people who say "Happy Holidays." (And a few grumpy souls who say "Bah, humbug.") Unfortunately, there are folks who think that because they say different things than others, they are involved in some kind of "war" with each other.

It started when some people decided to get offended, as people often do these days, when they were wished "Merry Christmas." In the minds of these people, "Merry Christmas" is an ostracizing, offensive and possibly even insulting term that excludes all people who are not Christians. These people decided (for everyone) that it would be better to say "Happy Holidays" than "Merry Christmas" because "Happy Holidays" is a greeting that appears inclusive to all people, Christians and non-Christians alike.

However, some other people were offended, as people often are these days, when they were told they could no longer say "Merry Christmas." To these people the greeting "Happy Holidays" is an assault on the holiday of Christmas. It's a declaration of war!

It's an overreaction, from both sides.

If someone says "Merry Christmas" to you, the chances are they are simply wishing you well. They literally want you to be "merry" at Christmastime. "Merry" means to be cheerful and festive. These are GOOD things. And everyone in America who isn't living under a rock (and many who are) knows that Dec. 25 is Christmas, whether they celebrate the holiday or not. So, if someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas," they are quite literally telling you to be cheerful on Dec. 25. No need to be offended!

Meanwhile, some people seem to think that when others say "Happy Holidays" they are launching a direct assault on Christianity by trying to take the "Christ" out of "Christmas." Poor "Happy Holidays" has gotten caught in the crossfire of this war on Christmas.

Happy Holidays is not anti-Christian. When I say "Happy Holidays," I am usually referring to the entire season between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. You see, the word "Holidays" is plural, meaning "more than one" holiday. And it certainly shouldn't be offensive to wish for someone to be happy during Christmas, New Year's, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or any other holiday anyone might celebrate. Happiness is a good thing!

So, if someone tells you "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays," please don't be offended. They're just wishing you well. Everyone wants you to be merry and happy on Christmas and throughout the holiday season. (With the possible exception of those "Bah, humbug" people.)

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