Each December we hear a mixture of greetings due to the various holidays celebrated. Not everyone celebrates every holiday, of course, so we tend to use the one with which we most identify. As a Christian, the holiday I’m focused on this month is Christmas, so if I greet someone with a holiday-related greeting, it will be “Merry Christmas.” I’ll have the good sense not to say that to my Jewish friends and colleagues or to those whom I know do not celebrate Christmas. I would not expect them to say it to me.
I have mixed emotions about the greetings used, particularly when companies, governments or institutions seem to go out of their way not to mention Christmas or even to ban any mention of it. I don’t like substituting the phrase “holiday tree” for “Christmas tree” or doing bizarre things like banning use of the colors red and green or banning use of the word “Christmas” during school “winter” celebrations as one school is doing so as not to offend anyone. (I guess offending Christians is deemed OK.) Last time I checked, the reason my company and nearly all companies let their employees off on December 25 is because it’s Christmas, so that tells me we’re celebrating Christmas, not “winter” and not a generic “holiday.” Not all celebrate it for its religious meaning, but even if many celebrate it as a cultural, gift-giving holiday devoid of Christian meaning, it’s still Christmas and worthy of acknowledgement by name.
I don’t begrudge others using the greeting of their choice, and neither should they begrudge me the same liberty. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s your call to make. Say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or whatever floats your boat, including no seasonal greeting at all if you like.
As for me, I’ll be saying, “Merry Christmas.” When I do, I’m not trying to be belligerent, offensive, insensitive or preachy. It’s just the holiday I’m celebrating, and I do, indeed, hope you have a merry Christmas.