Do You Wish People Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
My wife wishes people a “Merry Christmas,” while I say “Happy holidays.” We both have our reasons for doing so, and we are both right.
It’s important to us to keep Jesus as the central focus of Christmas. One way my wife does so is by wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas”—every chance she gets. She never says “Merry Xmas” and doesn’t shop at stores that resort to that godless abbreviation. She also never says “Happy holidays”—and gives me a critical glare when I do.
I am, however, quick to say “Merry Christmas” to people who follow Jesus and am happy to return the greeting to others who offer it to me. My preference, however, is a more intentional “Have a wonderful Christmas,” because the idea of making merry is a bit too jolly for me, obscuring the wondrous love of Jesus and what he came to do.
However, when expressing season’s greetings to people of unknown faith, I prefer a less confrontational “Happy holidays.” While people of other faiths could take my “Merry Christmas” greeting in a secular sense, they could likewise be incensed at a perceived attempt to proselytize. That would not be my intent; I do not want to offend.
My wife thinks I’m over-analyzing something simple.
I consider it this way: How would I feel if someone wished me a “Happy Kwanzaa,” a created holiday originally intended as an “oppositional alternative” to Christmas?
Someone did, and I was offended. Caught off guard and unwilling to reply with “Happy Kwanzaa,” I blurted out “Merry Christmas.” Sadly, I responded to his confrontation with an equally confronting retort.
I wish I had just smiled and said, “Happy holidays.”
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.