Before I start, I just want to preface this article by saying that I’m Christian. I love Christmas! It’s definitely one of my favorite holidays. But, I also love trivia and interesting facts and history. The show Adam Ruins Everything is a joy to watch to me. So when this debate popped up, I had a lot of mixed feelings.
As a Christian, we’re encouraged to spread the love of Christ to everyone we meet. Why not start with the birth of Christ? Merry Christmas! But the thing is, the early Christians adapted Jesus’ birth to the pagan holidays of the time—like Yule and Saturnalia. This helped continue the festivities and celebrations without ignoring the Christian religion. In fact, no one really knows when Jesus’ birth was seasonally. So, this adaptation was easily accepted, and traditions were created around the world for the holiday. Christmas was even banned in America by Puritans because of traditions that had sprouted in Europe. Christmas was “commercialized” way before people today argue. The background to Christmas isn’t actually super Christian.
However, Christmas does allow people to come together and love each other. It’s a time of giving and joy. Nonetheless, not everyone celebrates this holiday. And those that aren’t Christian who do celebrate the holiday typically don’t do it to praise the Lord. Most of the people who argue for the only “Merry Christmas” side of the argument are Christians who want to “put Christ back in Christmas”, which is fine. Like I said, I celebrate Christmas as a Christian, remembering Christ. But we do have to remember that Christ wasn’t originally “in” Christmas, or at least, the season.
I feel as though this argument shouldn’t be an argument. Many non-Christians don’t get upset when they’re told Merry Christmas. It’s barely given a second thought, actually. And, I personally don’t get upset when people tell me Happy Holidays, because there are only kind intentions behind it. Like “have a nice day” or, “enjoy your weekend!” This argument has come about with less than good intentions. If someone tells you Happy Holidays and you correct them, it makes them feel bad and also ruins what they said to you, intending to be nice. If someone tells you Merry Christmas, but you don’t celebrate it, it’s quite easy to just respond “thank you” and move on, knowing a stranger was just wishing you well. The holidays are a time of joy, and getting picky over something nice someone said to you isn’t showing them much kindness in return.
If you’re still uncertain, just use Happy Holidays. It covers every religion, or lack thereof. It’s simply well wishes for the season. If you slip up and say Merry Christmas, most people will thank you and wish you the same, anyways. Or, if you want to be really socially conscientious, ask them what they celebrate first. That may be a little personal, but it solves the issue the quickest. Or, if you want other options, check out Amelia's article, 12 Perfect Greetings for Anyone This Holiday Season.
Of all the things happening in the world, this debate should not be one that activists take a major stance on. This doesn’t inherently affect people’s lives. Worst case scenario, tell others to have a nice day. If they reject that, they may already be having a bad day. But, who am I to tell you what to do?