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Can We Say ‘Merry Christmas’ Again?

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.

Maybe more.

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.

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  1. Dan tyree

    I never stopped. But whatever a person wants to say

  2. AC

    Your comments on using Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays are well taken. Of coarse, we can agree, that what one chooses as a friendly gesture in greeting others at this time of year is sill a matter of personal freedom and opinion. No decree, as of yet, has been sent out throughout the country that all people must cease and desist from saying Merry Christmas. However, we all need to practice sensitivity and good will towards all people. Which, the spirit of grace and acceptance, should not be limited to those few weeks prior to December 25 and forgotten all other times and seasons.
    So, I was with you on your view and comments sharing your personal practice on the matter. Then, when you broke with the notion of offering good will to all people you lost me.
    People of a certain age beyond youth are relatively well informed on how society’s change on word usage came about. Your interjection of the word “woke” evokes politics and its corollary negative judgement speaks to your real motivation for this post.
    Your title’s question seems answered in your own words. Society is not ready to quit challenging the use of “Merry Christmas” at Christmas time. Because, it is people, like you, who do not have a spirit of good will toward all people. Seeing that you hold in reserve the measure of good will given you and dole it out sparingly to those in agreements with you. The notion you present, then, will not ever happen as long as people put political rivalry at
    the center when relating to and with our fellow world citizens.
    I am comfortable in my greetings, saying Merry Christmas to all.

    • Tom

      AC, while I agree with much of what you say, I disagree with your statement about “woke” being injected and evoking politics. Joe is simply saying that he does not worry much about using the “Merry Christmas” salutation because most of his circle are fine with it. And he further is saying that he does not have many in that circle who have been awakened or sensitized towards the Merry Christmas greeting being something negative or inflammatory in any way. And he ends with maybe the composition of his circle of friends is best for him and others. I rarely defend Joe as he will testify to. But this time I did not see anything wrong with what he said – which is very unusual.

      Merry Christmas AC! I hope you have great holidays!!!

  3. john

    Happy Holidays is polite, if (as it often is in New York City) the person on the receiving end is Jewish.
    Apparently, former President Trump’s idea off religious freedom is to force one Jewish person to say “Merry
    Christmas” to another Jewish person.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Who is forcing anyone to do anything? You don’t say Merry Christmas to be “polite” you do it because you wish someone well.

      • Tom

        Agree. Pretty much I can agree with your post. It is reflective and thoughtful, thus worthy of my comments. Just a couple thoughts. I say Merry Christmas to all of my friends, some are Christians, some are Muslims and some are Jewish, some liberals, some conservatives, and some are secular’s. And most of them return the salutation exactly as I said, or will say happy holidays. And we still smile and shake hands. I have never had a conflict with any of them. If a conflict would have arisen, I would have done as Jesus has instructed us when he said to the Jews, “Even if what you do is legal, if it offends your brother, you should not do it.” Jesus was always focused on relationship because He IS the “relational” personality of God the Father. (Father = Creator, Son = Advocate or Priest, Spirit = Counselor, guide and navigator). But also notice he says the word “should”, not “shall” which leaves the matter to the speaker. So I would do my best to be like Jesus and focus on the relationship and use what ever greeting makes my brother feel better, if I had such knowledge – which is where the “should” comes in. I would not feel bad if I had no knowledge of the other person’s feelings and used a greeting.

        The fact that someone does not like the term “Merry Christmas” and prefers an alternative greeting or none at all does not necessarily imply that the other person employs what I understand to be “woke” politics. Many people become depressed at the Christmas time of year for many reasons, lost or missing relatives and friends being one of the biggest, lonliness being just as big. So for them, there is nothing “merry” or “happy” about Christmas or the holidays. And this gets worse with a person as they age. And perhaps this is what AC is trying to get at.

        Read Luke 17: 1-2 Technically, Peter errs about the legality of taxing the Son of God, but Jesus uses the principle of not needlessly offending a brother (Luke 17:1-2) to positively express His divinity and spiritual power: He performs a miracle. Christ is so considerate that He would rather pay any amount, however unjust or objectionable, than endanger God’s work by unnecessarily provoking negative comments that would hurt its credibility, saying, “lest we offend them” (Matthew 17:27). His example should inspire us for when we feel slighted or taken advantage of (Romans 14:21-22). (or when we feel others object to us saying Merry Christmas). If Jesus would not risk offending a brother for his namesake, then neither should we. :>)

        As an Independent / unaffiliated voter, I would encourage you to allow one or two more liberal leaning woke types into your circle to increase your compassion and understanding of them whom Jesus would say to you are the “least of your brothers” (based on some of your earlier posts). . It would benefit you. And that is what Jesus would want you to do but would never compel you to do.

        SO MERRY CHRISTMAS JOE!!! We may have disagreed much this year, but as a Christian, I still hope you have a great set of holidays, blessed with the richness and fullness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. And lets remember that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, and more so about God fulfilling his promise to mankind of all races, creeds, colors, politics, and social orientations. We all need Jesus – and He is the reason for the season!

      • Mike f

        Joe/Larry-(not really sure if you just use a pseudonym so it looks like someone else writes this trash). The real question is-do you have any Jewish friends? Or any moslem? Larry claims he has Jewish friends, but I find that doubtful. Despite Larry’s lies that I am anti-Semitic, I have many Jewish friends. I would not think of wishing them ‘Merry Christmas’ as that is not a holiday they celebrate (although several of these Jewish friends were at my home for dinner tonight). So the question is-why would you wish someone merry Christmas if you don’t know if that is a holiday they celebrate? To me-that is just thoughtless and self-centered, but then again-that is what the Republican Party is all about today…


        Joe, you prioritize being polite? Since when is polite an either or? Rhetorical, NNTR.

        I have consistently noted that WOKE at it’s basic definition simply means being polite. Who disdains being polite? I call being polite part of having some class. Who does not want to have class? Beyond that, both sides can, respectfully, politely, go to Hell.

        If I don’t know, I say Happy Holidays. If I know they are Christian, or not something other, I say Merry Christmas. If in question, it’s HH. Just being polite, sensitive to the recipient and not trumpeting my own religion as in my-way-or-the-highway. While not the biggest crime in the Universe, it really does not take any effort to be polite and sensitive to others. I figure I am such an ugly American in so many ways, every little bit that helps, helps.

        So, Joe —- next time you come across someone not dressed as you, sporting a red bindi on their forehead, be proud, puff out your chest, and wish them MERRY CHISTMAS. I am sure they will smile with the thought bubble: oh my, he wishes me well.

        I never will understand why Republicans cannot just plain-speak and require so many code words. Just say what you mean, mean what you say. Or as we say in Maryland: “have a nice day.” You know what that means, don’t you? It means anything from “have a nice day,” to FY MF and anything in between. It’s all in the tone and inflection. But, to us, we know exactly what is meant.

        Have a nice day :>)

        • Joseph S. Bruder

          On the rare occasion these days that I read this column (a little extra free time right now), I usually agree with Frank. However, I don’t think “woke” means what you think it means. It means to open your eyes to what other people’s lives are like – a kind of shorthand for the Golden Rule or “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. If a bank turns down everyone from a black neighborhood, then “Sorry, but that property won’t qualify for a loan. Y’all come back now, ya’hear” is polite, but woke recognizes that the bank has redlined the neighborhood.

          I know that FOX News and Trump have turned “woke” into an epithet, and a whole generation of alleged conservatives make fun of the word… but really, it’s just human decency to treat people with respect, something that Trump has never had nor done in his entire life, and he has managed to convince a whole generation of Republicans to be as cruel and callous as he is.

          • frank Stetson

            Merry Christmas Joe, he said, taking a chance :>). Yeah, I agree, but at it’s most basic definition — polite of which your explanation of: follow the golden rule, or do unto other, MIGHT be considered extreme polite :>) These free speech extremist should be able to handle the nuance.

            pssst: don’t tell Horist you have read me; it’s off his paradigm grid to know that……

    • Tom

      I rarely defend Trump, I am an Independent voter that thinks Trump is a narcissistic idiot. But I have never heard nor read anything of what you said regarding forcing one Jewish person to say “Merry Christmas” to another Jewish person. And by the way, there are those that call themselves Judeo-Christians who use both salutations. You used the weasel word “apparently”. Shit or get off the pot John, which is it? Do you have any evidence that Trump was forcing Jewish people as you say? Or are you just bloviating?

  4. Darren

    Trump is a Narcissistic Person. That why he will get my vote.
    People like Biden want to sit down Kim in North Korea and have a picnic.
    Only Kim will make Biden the lunch meat!

    Merry Christmas to all!

    • frank Stetson

      Darren et all who believe this guy….. Trump lies. He lies a lot. When caught in a bald-face lie, he is know to put another lie on top. Sometimes more than one. He has no feelings about this, no remorse, never apologizes for anything. Like a human shark with dead eyes, he trolls the Earth looking for way to enrich himself…..

      In the case of North Korea, he did a little dance with Kim and then told you a story. He said “mission accomplished” when his results were the same as most Presidents from either party. NK lied and just continued their nuclear interests.

      During the reign of Trump, NK continued testing with short-range and ICBMs for nuclear warheads. All the plants were going full tilt. Worse yet, during Trump NK developed a new, bigger, better, ICBM with a multi-warhead carrying capability.

      In their first meeting, Kim said the same shit he told others about ramping down the nuclear programs and denuclearizing. In the second meeting, Trump walked on Kim’s deal to lift sanctions in return for shuttering a nuclear plant, so the plant stays open. In October of 2020, Kim introduced his largest missile ever capable of carrying 4 warheads as compared to his previous single warhead models. When Trump got to office, NK could reach Guam. By July, HI, Alaska, and perhaps Seattle. By November, they could cover the US. Over Trump’s reign, there were over a dozen tests, more than Chinese balloons flying over America. The ICBM they had at this time was liquid fueled meaning the US can probably spot them fueling up before launch. We have twelve deterrent defense missiles on the West Coast meaning NK needs 13 to fly to get one guaranteed hit.

      But the version introduced, under Trump, in 2020 carries four warheads thus NK only needs 4 to get 3 guaranteed hits. A 300% improvement for NK under Trump. Fortunately it is also liguid fueled.

      During Trump’s reign there is no confirmation, no validation, that NK ceased any nuclear activities and they certainly upped the nuclear missile program a lot.

      Trump lied to you about his success in NK and never looked back to tell you he failed just like every other President. The difference is he lied and made you feel better about being less safe under his rule. FYI —you can look up the announcement date for the new missile.

  5. Eulalie Grace

    I went to a parochial school with nuns, in an Italian / Jewish neighborhood.
    We were told that we should say Happy Holidays, to include ALL our neighbors.
    Never had a problem with this – ever.
    If someone says Merry Christmas, I’m fine with that.
    Like they say – “It’s the thought that counts”.

  6. Mike f

    Darren-Do you ever study history before you blurt out garbage? (And here I am speaking of recent history, not stuff we studied in school). The only person who has had a picnic with Kim was your favorite narcissist-or have you forgotten the love letters they exchanged? There really should be an IQ test given when people register to vote, trump would never have been elected..

  7. Joseph S. Bruder

    Fucking Republican snowflakes bring this up every year and it’s totally meaningless. Nobody says you MUST say one thing or another, or that you CAN’T say something. It would be more polite if you assume that not everyone is Christian, but nobody has taken your right to be an idiot away (as evidenced by all the Republican Trump supporters). This is just a fake issue that FOX news brings up like clockwork about 30 seconds after the Thanksgiving turkey coma.

    • Jim wampler

      Go suck Trump’s balls you commie loser