Can We Say ‘Merry Christmas’ Again?
In recent years, the phrase “Merry Christmas” has become more than a simple seasonal greeting; it has transformed into a cultural and ideological battleground. This transformation raises a significant question: Is it finally acceptable to say “Merry Christmas” again without fear of offending or sparking controversy?
The debate over “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” is deeply entrenched in the broader cultural conflicts that characterize contemporary society. On one side are those who view “Merry Christmas” as a cherished expression of traditional values and religious beliefs, and a genuine intention of good will towards others. On the other side are those who are afraid of controversy, stepping tippy-toed through the world, thinking “Happy Holidays” is a more inclusive greeting that won’t offend anyone during the holiday season.
I try to understand this, how someone could be offended by a genuine wish of good tidings, religious or not. If someone were to say to me “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Diwali” (Hindu, I think), should I throw that back in their faces?
The shift from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” can be traced back to efforts to secularize the public sphere. This movement by a tiny but vocal minority aimed to create an environment where people of all faiths, or none at all, could feel included and respected. For some, the use of “Happy Holidays” is seen as a polite acknowledgment of the many celebrations that take place in December, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (a holiday made up in 1966, not really celebrated, but frequently referred to as an alternative to Christmas), alongside Christmas.
However, this approach has not been universally accepted. Most argue that the push for a secularized holiday greeting is an overreaction that diminishes the cultural significance of Christmas in Western society, and politicizes the simple good wishes of the greeting.
The debate is further complicated by the commercialization of Christmas, which some argue has stripped the holiday of its religious significance, reducing it to a consumerist celebration. This commercialization has led to a paradox where Christmas is both omnipresent in its secular form and yet contentious in its religious expression.
This year I feel better about saying “Merry Christmas” and have indeed used the phrase many times. I refuse to feel bad or “non-inclusive”, in fact, just the opposite. I believe the “debate” is mostly over. In fact, a Jewish friend just wished me a Merry Christmas – I wasn’t offended by his blatant cultural appropriation at all and in fact returned the sentiment.
But then again, my circle of friends does not really include a lot of militant college students or radical woke people who would get in my face about offending people by not being inclusive.
Maybe that is for the best.
So, yes, “Merry Christmas” is OK to say. If someone objects, try to feel compassionate for them because they need Christmas as much as you do.
Punching Bag Post editors and staff would like to wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We love you all and appreciate that without you we would not exist. We hope that your loved ones stay safe and that 2024 is a prosperous year for you. Sincerely, Joe Gilbertson, editor.