Merry CHRISTmas?

WARNING: Rant ahead! I don’t do it often but several things have happened this week that have really upset me. This just needs to be said.

My tree’s been up since the first of November, the switch was flipped on my exterior lights before Thanksgiving and I never de-Christmas my house until after Epiphany. I have always loved Christmas and the magic of the holiday season. I wish my Christian friends a Merry Christmas and my Jewish friends a Happy Hannukah. If I’m unsure, Happy Holidays is a safe way to spread cheer, or (gasp) is it? I really do resent being reminded that it’s “Merry CHRISTmas” when I wish someone a Happy Holiday. Since when did Christians have the exlusive right to the month of December? I spent my childhood in parochial school and do not need to be reminded that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. However, apparently some “Christians” need to be reminded that they are not the center of the universe and that there are actually people out there with beliefs different from theirs. According to the dictionary, a Christian is not only a believer in Christ but also “exhibits a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ”. Hmm, it sounds like some people need to dust off their bibles and really think about what this means. Let’s please remember that this country was founded on religious freedom and tolerance. And, most importantly, good manners and graciousness trump all. If someone wishes you a Happy Holiday, please just smile and accept it in the spirit with which it was intended.

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48 Comments

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48 responses to “Merry CHRISTmas?

  1. Oh I’m sooo glad you have posted this. Religious intolerance and dominance is the worst spirit spoiler in a happy holiday!

  2. I’m not sure what is in the air this year, but I’ve gotten several, um, untoward responses when I have wished people happy holidays this year. But that won’t stop me. I wish everyone (especially you, Gigi), a very happy holiday season!

    • Gail Daigh

      I absolutely, 100% agree with you, Gigi. My sister is a fundamentalist christian and it drives me bonkers. They take offense to everything, and they think everything’s an attack on their religion! I think THEY should stop attacking and shoving their down everyone’s else’s throats! Yes, I’m angry about it! Here’s an axiom from AA: Live and let live. And that includes religious beliefs.

  3. Janet

    So true!

    Happy holidays!

  4. Elle Emm

    hmmmm, this is such a contentious issue. I wish people a Merry Christmas, as that is what I celebrate. It does not however, preclude me from having my muslim friends over on Christmas day to share our table. I believe the holidays are for sharing joy with friends and family of every colour, creed and belief. We enjoyed a magnificent feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan with our friends, and cannot wait to reciprocate the hospitality tomorrow.

    Happy holidays to you from Australia!

  5. I find myself just saying “Best wishes to you in the new year” and leave it at that. :)

  6. Belinda (sew4Fun)

    Happy Holidays, Gigi! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog throughout the year, even if I don’t comment very often.

  7. I’m with you. Good will to ALL, not just Christians on December 25th. Merry Christmas Gigi! And may the New Year bring you much joy!

  8. Tyna

    While many Christians recognize Christmas as a celebration of Jesus Christ, Christmas is also observed as a cultural holiday by many non-Christians. It is celebrated around the globe, not just in the United States.

    After all, CHRISTmas is a FEDERAL HOLIDAY in the United States.

    I am not offended by someone wishing me a “Merry CHRISTmas.”

    • Tyna

      Oh… and Merry Christmas! :-)

      • I’m not offended either – after all, it’s my holiday! What upsets me is being dressed down by people who get their knickers in a twist when someone wishes them a Happy Holiday. Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated this month! Honestly, if someone thought I was Jewish and wished me a Happy Hannukah I’d just smile and say thank you! Because, as always, it is the thought that counts. :-)

  9. Meredith P

    Yay, Gigi! Thanks for posting this. I think this is yet another made-up “outrage” and I agree about remembering that the US is a country founded on religious (or not) freedom! Here’s hoping EVERYONE has a happy holiday season.

    I particularly like the ecumenical celebrations described by Elle Emm. Sounds like so much fun and celebration!

  10. vernonfashionstudio

    In my opinion it has nothing to do with religious intolerance, it is a backlash to the PC push to homogenize all the December hoidays, over the last years. It is a backlash to the ‘Holiday Tree’ c**p of a few years ago. Just my opinion.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza and Happy New Years!

    Linda T

  11. Shari

    Here, here. Christmas is a cultural holiday celebrated worldwide by more than just Christians. I personally prefer Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings! but to each his own.

    I love the “good will to all” sentiment and plan to use that in future!

  12. Thank you for this post. I’m Jewish and Christmas is really alienating for my family. Especially the expectation that everyone celebrates Christmas. When my kids were little they hated being asked what they were getting for Christmas and receiving pitying looks when they said nothing. I felt at home on a visit to New York and saw Hannukah menorahs alongside the Christmas trees and Happy Holidays the standard greeting.

    • Gail, I live in south Florida (aka south New York) which has a large Jewish population. When my son was in middle school all I heard was “why can’t I have a Bar Mitzvah???”. ;-)

  13. hear hear! You put it better than I ever could! So very many holidays in December – seems every religious tradition has at least one, if not several. Let’s celebrate them all with one another! :)

  14. LisaY

    Totally agree. It has become the worst part of this season/holiday, thanks mostly to some followers of organized christian religions. The ranting about the so-called “‘War’ on Christmas”, “Jesus is the “only” reason for the season”, “Join this Facebook group if you demand “Merry Christmas instead of ‘Happy Holidays’”.
    People should be left alone to celebrate this time of year for whatever reason they wish, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan/Earth-based/Solstice, Kwanzaa, WHATEVER. What’s so bad about being respectful of other peoples beliefs?
    Best I’ve been able to tell, nobody *owns* the season or the holiday. REGARDLESS of what the Feds call it.

  15. Gigi

    I totally agree! Thanks for posting. I thoroughly reading your blog. From another Gigi

  16. Thank you for posting this! I too think that some people are just looking for something to be offended by. This “my way or the highway” attitude is exactly what kept me away from Christianity in the first place! It wasn’t until I met people who practiced the religion as it is intended that my perception changed.

  17. Deborah J.

    I’ve heard many arguments about Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays, but I’ve never heard it stated the way you put it. I get it now! Thanks Gigi and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and yours!!! :-)

  18. Cidell

    This is the second time I’ve read this. And, I’m flabbergasted. I say happy holidays to everyone and get specific when I know. NO ONE I know has told me CHRISTmas and I think I’d fall out if they did. Is this a trend? Was this on some TV / radio program that people are now following? Bizarre. You are spot on. 15 years of Christian education. I know when Christ was born. Geez.

  19. Gail Daigh

    My sister is a fundamentalist christian who doesn’t think Catholics and Episcopalians are christians! Here’s an applicable axion from AA: Live and let live! Religion has been the cause of so many wars and deaths. There has to be a better way. I also agree with John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

  20. As a teacher we aren’t allowed to reference Christmas or holidays at all during this time of year. Our “Christmas” break is now called “Winter” break. Sheesh.

  21. Very well said. Happy Holidays, whatever your holiday of choice may be!

    All this intolerance and spitefulness just shouldn’t be, especially for December.

  22. nalani

    Thank you! It’s ironic that Christmas is celebrated at this time of year as a response to Saturnalia, a really really big festival that featured role reversals of masters and slaves and all kinds of tricks and fun. So, the Christians took heed and decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at this particular time to make a point and have a way to join in the fun.

    Many cultures celebrate the Solstice with all kinds of activities. So, it makes sense for everybody to take December as a wonderful cultural free-for-all and it ain’t just about the birth of Christ but everything in between!

    Mele Kalikimaka!

  23. clf

    Go Gigi! Yes, the faux outrage from certain fringe right-wing types about Christmas is tiresome. (I prefer to use the term Xmas myself. That drives them nuts!)

    Listen, I have thousands of hours of Christian indoctrination under my belt, err.. I mean parochial school education. I was raised in a devout household where you wouldn’t dare put a crumb of food to your lips without bowing your head first to thank the good Lord for it first. We went to church 2-3 times a week. Our whole life revolved around it. And I remember my mother sending out cards that said Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings back in 1973!

    In the spirit of the season, here’s one of my favorite holiday songs.

    http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/clips/christmas-for-the-jews-song/50599/

  24. Liz Feuer

    Let’s hear it for tolerance. Yesterday, after a phone consultation, my (Muslim) colleague wished me a happy holiday, and I (a Jew/atheist) wished him the same! I think we were both OK with that. The spirit of the season is universal–peace and goodwill to all. Instead, these narrow-minded, self-righteous people are spreading bigotry,and hoping it will be contagious. It’s up to the rest of us to deny them that goal. Thank you for the post, Gigi.

  25. Well said! I couldn’t agree more.

  26. bevaau

    I am sorry if this is going to present another view but . . .

    I am a Christian and wish everyone a Happy Christmas. I wear a t-sirt that says ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ but I do NOT expect everyone I greet to agree with me. Why do you (all) expect everyone you meet to agree with you?? I easily acknowledge there are other celebrations at this time of year and am happy to receive their greetings when offered. Why should I be restrained from offering my ggod wishes to others?

  27. bevaau

    Sorry, that should read “good wishes” to others?

    And . . .
    I would never suggest that Jesus is the ONLY reason for the season.

  28. clf

    bevaau you are not presenting another view. you are presenting the original view that Gigi was complaining about.

    So because you are a Christian you feel the need to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and you feel the need to wear a t-shirt announcing that ” Jesus is the reason for the season” (despite the fact that Christmas as we celebrate it is a holiday with pagan origins and Jesus was not born on december 25, nor was there mistletoe and holly at his birth and the early Christians did not celebrate Christmas). See, in my book this qualifies as shoving your particular brand of religion down the throats of others.

    I suppose on your birthday you also wish other people a “happy birthday”? “Hey, it’s my birthday, so happy birthday to YOUUUUUUUUU!” Do you on your anniversary wish happy anniversary to others, like your divorced or old maid girlfriends? “Hey, it’s my anniversary! 25 years married, so Happy Anniversary to YOUUUUUUUUUU!!!!” Because that makes about as much sense as wishing a Muslim or Jew or a WIccan a “merry christmas.”

    A polite person offers best wishes for whatever holiday the RECIPIENT celebrates, not the other way around.

    A Jew does not wish a gentile a “happy rosh hashanah!” Because (duh) it doesn’t make any sense, since gentiles don’t celebrate rosh hashanah and (double duh) Jews don’t proselytize (they kvetch instead :).

    Hey, if you feel God is calling you to proselytize to others about Jesus-son-of-God-the-only-way-to-salvation-or-else-burn-in-the-fire-of-eternal-damnation by all means wear a t-shirt that says “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “Sinners repent” or “John 3:16″ or the fish symbol or the big “W” (same meaning as the fish symbol) or “Jesus is God, Read the Bible” or “I’m with stupid” (works best when combined with “God is my co-pilot).

    But at least acknowledge what you’re doing: pushing your brand of religiosity and beliefs on others. Don’t pretend that you’re just sending out good wishes.

  29. bevaau

    Probably best if I don’t take this any further.

    I say Happy Christmas because I hope you will be happy. Nothing more. No proselytizing intended.

  30. pendlestitches

    Amen to that!

  31. Karla

    My very belated observation: if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas, go right ahead. I’m sure the phrase carries the best of intentions. But please don’t jump on someone who wishes you Happy Holidays and tell them they should say Merry Christmas. It’s happening too often, and it’s having our good wishes “corrected” and revised that is driving some of us nuts this year. Oh – Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, Gigi and everyone else.

  32. Randi

    I am Christian, and I completely understand this argument from both sides. I don’t think any one should be “corrected” by the greeting they choose to acknowledge the holidays. I personally just say same to you after whatever is said to me first. I don’t feel that a pride in ones beliefs i.e. a t-shirt is shoving their “religion” down anyone’s throats. In my opinion it seems fine to acknowledge any beliefs other than Christianity without being called intolerant. If you are going to be tollerant of one than be tolerant of all, and derrogatory comments of Christians shouldn’t be allowed either. Making such statements as ““I’m with stupid” (works best when combined with “God is my co-pilot” aren’t neccessary to prove your point. We should be able to hear and respect eachother’s point of view in a dignified manner. Just my thoughts.

  33. bevaau

    I would never “jump on” or correct anyone wishing me Happy Holidays – in fact, I would be pleased that they expressed their good wishes. I do not think that someone who wishes me “Happy Thanksgiving” is trying to make me into something I am not (an American, perhaps? I am Australian), I just accept it as a good thing to happen. My statement on my t-shirt is small, not “in your face” but does signal where I am coming from – it is not intended to push anything on anyone else – any more than t-shirts with political statements are meant to convert onlookers.

    I have a question about Gigi’s first comment – does it indicate that people are correcting Merry Christmas to Merry CHRIST-mas?? I have never heard of that and it would explain some of the strong feelings expressed here. I would never do that either.

    Whatever your beliefs, this should be a time of goodwill for ALL.
    Bevaau

  34. Persil

    As an Australian, I find the overseas insistence on Happy Holiday rather than Merry Xmas rather bizarre. When my Muslim friends celebrate Eid, I don’t feel compelled to say Happy Holiday to them. It is Eid, that is what is being celebrated. At the moment it is Xmas and that is what is being celebrated and that is no insult to anyone.

    Happy Holiday reeks of wimpishness and overwhelming poliitical correctness.

    • My point is that Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated in December. If I am unsure whether to wish someone a Happy Hannukah or a Merry Christmas why must people correct my “Happy Holidays” and remind me that Jesus Is The Reason For The Season? I am pretty sure Jesus has nothing to do with Hannukah or Kwanzaa. And, since it’s been brought up, I actually do acknowledge my Jewish friends’ holidays. I do not understand what is so offensive about being polite and considerate of everyone’s beliefs.

  35. Karla

    Actually, Xmas isn’t the only “what is being celebrated”. The US “holidays” begin in November with Thanksgiving and continue into January, so here, the season lasts a long time, with CHRISTmas on only one day. I have no desire to ignore those who celebrate Hannukah or Kwanzaa, and I don’t want to rattle off a lengthy list of discrete, separate celebrations in order to include everyone in my good wishes. “I hope you enjoy your holidays” sounds better – and less dismissive – than Happy Whatever.

  36. Gigi,
    I think I understand… and I think you have made a very rational, polite post on the impropriety of being corrected by others in your choice of holiday greeting. The point being that you were corrected which is always rather rude.
    It seems that some are reading this as if you were saying you can not choose your greeting. I do not see where you said anything like this. I believe they are misunderstanding. Most unfortunate.

    So I wish to you a very happy season of holiday joy, of all and any holidays that you may observe. Good wishes to you and yours at this time and in the coming year. And I look forward to seeing what wonderful creations you come up with in this coming year. Thank you, as always, for sharing!

  37. Andreas

    Well, it is the Christmas season, and but for the Christian holiday, it’s likely that people of other faiths would not be celebrating at all. Hannukkah is a very minor holiday to Jews, and Kwanza is a made-up (by a felon) holiday. So, yes, we Christians do get a little irritated about what we perceive as an attack on our special time of year. You want to push us out of the public square, and so we “fight back” in a small way by wishing you all “Merry Christmas.” Don’t you think you could find something else to be offended about?

  38. Karla

    Andreas, I’m never offended when someone wishes me well, even if they choose words that could be construed as hackneyed, narrow or ethnocentric. The major gripe many of us have is that when we wish others a Happy Holiday, we are told that what we really should say is Merry Christmas. Such “corrections” seem quite rude, insensitive and suggest an imperious attitude. But anyhow, February 14th is almost upon us…..Happy Holiday everyone.

  39. Diane E

    Gigi, I was puttering around (looking to see if you’d written about the Marrakesh pants) and I stumbled on this post. To say that I totally agree would be the understatement of the century. Wouldn’t our lives be so much more pleasant if we could just be polite and thoughtful and assume that others mean well instead of looking for a slight or opportunity to make a correction? grrrrrr. Back to work now.

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