General Question

chyna's avatar

Why is "Merry Christmas" offensive?

Asked by chyna (34087 points ) December 3rd, 2011

It’s a national holiday named Christmas. It’s just like any other holiday, New Years Day, 4th of July, Easter, etc. Yes, it has religious connotation’s with it, but so does “happy Hanukkah” and I don’t think I’ve heard that people don’t want that said. Why not celebrate it or not, but why have an uproar over saying the name? And please don’t make this into a “there is no God” thread. That isn’t the question.

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219 Answers

Coloma's avatar

The usual walking grievances looking for a cause.
I think most people that have a complaining and hypersensitive ego will find fault with just about anything. Complaining is part of their dysfunctional identity.

I say don’t sweat the small stuff and live and let live.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

People get off on feeling offended. It’s their way of having a little bit of control in an otherwise out-of-control world. Hypersensitivity is making me fucking insane. Merry Christmas to you all!

JLeslie's avatar

I think if everyone walked around in December saying have a Happy Chanukah in America you might hear some complaints. How can you say you hear nothing negative about people saying Happy Chanukah when no one says it except to Jewish people?

CHRISTmas is most certainly a Christian holiday. It is not my holiday. I do like the Christmas season, and some of the traditions, the music, the cookies, the decorations, but I don’t celebrate the holiday, except that I celebrate it with people who do.

I am not offended by Merry Christmas, but I think some people are because it makes a presumption that everyone celebrates Christmas. Think about it, wouldn’t you find it odd if someone wished you a Happy Kwanza (assuming you are not black) Or, Happy New Year in September during Rosh Hashana?

Christmas is a Federal Holiday because most of the country celebrates it so federal employees get the day off. Easter isn’t because federal workers typically don’t work on Sunday. Christmas is not a National Holiday created by the government regarding a specific person or event relating to American history.

laureth's avatar

On the surface, it’s not any more offensive than “Happy Thursday.” However, it’s the attitude behind it that is the most offensive. It says, “My way is the only way, your way sucks so badly that I’m unwilling to even recognize it.” People nowadays use “Merry Christmas” the way they might wield a weapon, rather than as an olive branch.

To make the contrast even more clear: think about Christmas gifts. What do you do when gifting to friends and family? You try to find out what they want: if cousin Suzy is into pink Barbie dolls, for example, the kind gift giver attempts to find a pink Barbie doll for Suzy. What the unkind gift giver does is give Suzy something she doesn’t really want, like a fruitcake, or perhaps an old-lady perfume that the giver really likes a lot. See, gift giving is more about the recipient than the giver. It’s a sacrifice you make, to make someone else happy.

Think of “Merry Christmas!” as a gift you give others, and this example will begin to make sense. What would an atheist, a Buddhist, a Jew, or a Muslim want with your “Merry Christmas!”? It’s not a gift they can really use. It’s more about what the giver of the wish wants, right? The best gift is to figure out what greeting the hearer wants; what would be meaningful to them. If the person is Jewish, “Happy Hanukkah!” might mean a lot more, for example.

Now, in this world with so many people, you can’t always know what gift someone will want. If you don’t know Cousin Suzy very well, you don’t know if she wants a pink Barbie doll, a G.I. Joe, a Harry Potter book, or a pad of paper and some crayons. So if you still want to buy her something to show you care, a gift card is a good choice – that way Suzy can look around and figure out what she’d like the best, and it will still have come from you.

“Happy Holidays!” is like the gift-card of wellwishes, this time of year. It says, “I don’t necessarily know what holiday you celebrate, but I want to wish you a happy one, whatever it is.” When I hear “Happy holidays!”, I take it to mean “Happy Solstice!”, because the return of the sun is very important to me. And if I know you want to hear a “Merry Christmas!” because you celebrate the birth of Jesus, I will gladly give you one. But if I’m a cashier at a store serving hundreds of people each day, “Happy Holidays!” is perfect: it includes everyone, and they can all interpret it to be whatever holiday is their favorite.

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incendiary_dan's avatar

The only time I’ve ever heard anyone say that Christmas is offensive is conservatives complaining that the liberals think Christmas is offensive.

Seriously, it’s a straw man. Nobody worth a damn thinks it’s offensive to say Merry Christmas. It’s assuming, and maybe kind of pushy, but it isn’t offensive.

JLeslie's avatar

Actually @incendiary_dan makes an interesting point, offended might be the wrong word, and a label that is thrust upon those who are just trying to say, “hey, that isn’t my holiday, not everyone celebrates Christmas.” I remember one time when I was working retail my manager said to a child, “what did you ask Santa for this Christmas?” The mother replied, “we don’t celebrate Christmas, she gets gifts for Chanukah.” I don’t think the mom was offended, but it does kind of suck as the Jewish kid when everyone around is talking about Santa and the gifts he brings.

marinelife's avatar

I think it is because some people (like the Jewish faith) don’t celebrate it. If you don’t know that the person celebrates it, it is less offensive to say Happy holidays or Season’s greetings.

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JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m not Christian by any stretch of the imagination, and I spent several decades of my adult life being an atheist. I have never taken offense at someone saying “Merry Christmas”, because I never assume that the well-wisher is promoting an agenda. Apologies to you, @laureth, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Anyone wishing me happiness and cheer at any time gets my appreciation. I have always said “Merry Christmas” to people in general, and I don’t recall anyone ever taking offense. If they are uncomfortable, then of course I’m sorry that they’re missing the point of my well-wishing.

Coloma's avatar

@JilltheTooth
My sentiments exactly!

SavoirFaire's avatar

I agree with @incendiary_dan. I have never known someone to be actually offended by the use of “merry Christmas” in itself. The only thing I’ve ever known someone to be offended by is the use of the phrase in a particularly imposing or condescending manner. Most of the time, however, people do not use the phrase in this way. My wife hates everything about Christmas, and even she isn’t offended at casual greetings of “merry Christmas.”

When the switch from “merry Christmas” to “happy holidays” began, my wife was working her first management job in retail. At the time, it was presented as an economic decision: “holiday” items were selling better than “Christmas” items, and people greeted with “happy holidays” had been discovered by her store’s analysts to purchase items that were not specifically Christmas items (including items with a general winter theme and New Year’s Eve items) at a greater rate than people greeted with “merry Christmas” (who primarily purchased Christmas-themed items). The free market rules when Christmas has become about cash, so “merry Christmas” was out.

Note that it was not until two years later that any of the “War on Christmas” bullshit began. What had started out as a market decision made by a small group of companies had expanded the next year (retail is a constant arms race, after all, and managers bring strategies with them when they change employers) and continued to expand after that. As the market strategy became more common, someone noticed and decided to take what had started out as pure capitalism and turn it into an atheist conspiracy.

This had its backlash in a certain group of Christians deciding to take it upon themselves to go around forcing the phrase “merry Christmas” into their conversations—this happened several times to my wife, even when she moved to a store that still sprinkled the word “Christmas” all over their store and had associates use both greeting phrases—thus making the phrase offensive. In other words, there was no problem until a select group of Christians decided to make it a problem.

@Coloma I don’t understand why you’re so upset about the Jehovah’s Witnesses not bending to your will. You refuse to do all sorts of things that other people would look at and say “Jesus, it’s just _______ you know.” Why is it different when it’s not your eccentricity being tolerated?

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

@JilltheTooth Perfectly said.

It is a specific holiday that I wish to celebrate and if other people are offended by that message of Merry Christmas, then I’m sorry. I wouldn’t be offended if someone wished me a Happy Kwanzaa or anything. This makes me want to watch South Park now, because they had a whole episode about this whole thing. Basically, what I say to people bothered by this is let people be and get a hobby cause you need one.

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wonderingwhy's avatar

Maybe it’s because I don’t attach any religious meaning to saying or hearing “merry christmas” but I don’t take any offense.

As to why anyone would, same as any other similar thing. They attach a personal negative significance to it which over rides any genuine intent or meaning. That is to say, to them it doesn’t matter what you said only what they heard.

YoBob's avatar

I think Ben Stein stated things very well:

“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. ”

wilma's avatar

@laureth said: On the surface, it’s not any more offensive than “Happy Thursday.” However, it’s the attitude behind it that is the most offensive. It says, “My way is the only way, your way sucks so badly that I’m unwilling to even recognize it.” People nowadays use “Merry Christmas” the way they might wield a weapon, rather than as an olive branch.

I don’t agree with that, like @wonderingwhy stated as to why it might be offensive to you,
I don’t take any offense.
As to why anyone would, same as any other similar thing. _They attach a personal negative significance to it which over rides any genuine intent or meaning. That is to say, to them it doesn’t matter what you said only what they heard.

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Mariah's avatar

It doesn’t offend me one bit but I can understand why some people might feel a little weird about it. It’s just another example of people in America constantly assuming that the person they are talking to is Christian. That assumption is a little bit offensive. But overall I don’t think it’s worth making a big deal over.

flutherother's avatar

If I was in India and someone said “Happy Diwali” to me I would be pleased. I wouldn’t feel offended at all as the intention would be to include me rather than to discriminate against me.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I don’t object to someone saying ‘Merry Christmas’. I object to people not letting me say ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings’ instead, but most people who say ‘Merry Christmas’ aren’t doing that.

zensky's avatar

No problem with wishing people a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I don’t mind when people wish me the same. If I know someone is Jewish, I will wish them a Happy Hanukkah – and vice versa. It’s all good.

As long as we wish something nice – it doesn’t really matter what it is, right?

And re. Hannukah (there are many phonetic spellings in English for חנוכה

Chanukah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.

The story of Chanukah begins in the reign of Alexander the Great. Alexander conquered Syria, Egypt and Judea, but allowed the people under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. Under this relatively benevolent rule, many Jews assimilated, adopting much of Hellenistic culture, including the language, customs, dress, etc., in much the same way that Jews in America today blend into the secular American society.

More than a century later, a successor of Alexander, Antiochus IV was in control of the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. Two groups opposed Antiochus: a basically nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a religious traditionalist group known as the Chasidim, the forerunners of the Pharisees (no direct connection to the modern movement known as Chasidism). They joined forces in a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Selucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.

According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory: Jews do not glorify war.

Chanukah is not a very important religious holiday. The holiday’s religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance, and you won’t find many non-Jews who have even heard of Purim! Chanukah is not mentioned in Jewish scripture; the story is related in the book of the Maccabbees, which Jews do not accept as scripture.

Source

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think it’s perfectly ok to say.

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comity's avatar

I am not of the Christian faith and I don’t mind people saying Merry Christmas. It’s a wonderful holiday for the majority. My family is a mixed bag celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, and the winter solistice. But, on a personal level, I do so love to hear “Happy Holidays” because I feel included, not just on the outside looking in.

bongo's avatar

I wish we could all acknowledge every single holiday and get days off for them all!
But in reality a country can’t allow national holidays for all people for every religion that is in the country, that would probably just result in there being holidays and days off every week with the numbers of different religions and religious days that there are. Surely being able to celebrate one nationally and allow individuals to take off their own corresponding religious events too is better than none? Or someone who gets offended by the national celebration of Christmas please correct me in this.

It’s ridiculous though; as far as I am aware most countries will have their main religion and allow national holidays to associate with that particular religion. I understand that not all people will celebrate this holiday but it gives some order to allow people specific times to holiday and have all the shops close and business stop. Obviously not all of the population will follow one religion but I think it gives a bit of order to pick one religion and create a national holiday for all citizens (I know some people do have to work but the majority of people I think will get some time off or increased pay or something).

I feel that the tradition that shops will close and business will stop allows people to take time off together regardless of religion. If countries stop allowing for Christmas to be celebrated and acknowledged that will surely prevent many people from being able to take Christmas off as holiday and give businesses more of a reason to stay open and continue trading all year round. This would surely mean that people who want to take Christmas off work may not be able to as they would have to compete with others who also celebrate Christmas to book it off. As most people I know in the UK do celebrate Christmas without a national holiday marking the day surely this will just cause increased stress and problems with people not turning up for work.

Does anyone know if all the shops and businesses close down for Christmas in countries where their national religion does not celebrate christmas? I’m sure they will have days when most businesses will close down for a specific religious holiday and stay open on christmas day? Would that be viewed in the same way?

Wishing someone a Merry Christmas for them to find that offensive is kind of offensive in itself I think. I would NEVER be offended if someone wished me good wishes and kind thoughts for any kind of religious holiday whether I celebrated it or not. It is a wishing of kindness regardless of faith.

cazzie's avatar

I don’t know how wishing anyone a happy anything can be offensive. I think this is a strawman argument that has been blown out of proportion by the ones thinking they can play the victim/martyr card and pretend that they are under attack. Nothing unites a group like a common enemy, real or imagined.

And, sorry, @laureth, but people can say Merry Christmas to me or God Jul (which is what we say here in Norway and ‘god’ means ‘good’ so don’t get confused, the ‘d’ isn’t pronounced, it sounds like ‘goo’.) and I will take it as meant; good wishes during this festive time of year. The solstice is what we celebrate in my house because, living at 63 degrees north, the return of the sun is a very real celebration.

Norway is a Christian nation. It was brought Christianity by way of the sword. It isn’t easy being atheist or pagan here, even today. My 7 year old son has religion classes in his school and we find we have to try to balance out what he’s being told by a teacher who seems to be teaching the class with some zealousness.

I had to change doctors here when I got pregnant, because the first one asked what religion I was and when I wrote, ‘none’, he was more concerned about lecturing me about the immortal soul of my child than he was about taking my blood pressure.

We celebrate many Christian holidays here and get them off work as public holidays. (yea!) We also celebrate St. Olav who is credited with bringing Christianity here by the sword. I get to play a pagan merchant at the re-enactment of it at Stiklestad and make real money for my trouble. I’m good with it.

I guess I just know I need to pick my battles and taking offence at the ‘Christ’ in ‘Christmas’ ain’t one of them.

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TheIntern55's avatar

I think it’s just how people are raised to react. My friend is Jewish and she doesn’t mind people saying Merry Christmas to her. In elementry school, when we had to make Christmas decorations, she just sat, helped color, and might make a menora. Her parents are both reallly nice and sometimes like to make fun of their being different.
Another kid in my grade in Jewish and his parents take him out of school for Hannukah and he does mind people saying Merry Christmas to him. But I’ve met his mother and she’s quite high maitnence and probably passed it onto her son.

laureth's avatar

@JilltheTooth, @Coloma, @wilma, and anyone else who disagrees with me:

I am willing to be disagree’d with, and that is the lovely thing. :) And if someone wishes me “Merry Christmas” out of joy, that’s cool too. But many times, they say it in such a way as to make me think they are not coming from a place of joy, nor are they willing to be disagree’d with.

For example, this went around Facebook, and will probably come around again as we approach 25 December:

Not to offend anyone but this is what I BELIEVE. I am sick and tired of every year when CHRISTMAS comes around, there are people who want to take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS because it might offend someone. Well, how about all of the CHRISTIANS? What about offending US because you are taking our CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS!?!? CHRIST IS CHRISTMAS!!! If you aren’t celebrating CHRIST then WHY are you celebrating? CHRISTMAS is about the Birth of Our SAVIOR! CHRISTMAS is one of a few holidays left that celebrate “MY” CHRIST! Leave “MY” Holiday alone!!! And tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays! Re-post if your not ashamed…..♥ Thanks

That’s not joyous. That’s saying, “I am scared of the secularism and acceptance of diversity that I see around me, and so I’m going to bash people over the head with my holiday so I feel a little more important.” The little heart at the end there is pretty ironic after that tirade, eh?

Also, the American Family Association is pretty militant about the Christmas thing, too. Here’s their annual list of “naughty and nice” companies that we are supposed to support or boycott, depending upon how they mention “Christmas.” If “Merry Christmas” is an option that comes from a joyous heart, it shouldn’t be enforced with a metaphorical cudgel, is all I’m sayin’.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Because a lot of people get off on the attention they get from being offended, but sometimes it’s funny to play along with it.

wilma's avatar

@laureth I also find nothing joyous in that tirade. I would never repeat or respond to anything like that.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I assume that they wish me well with their “Merry Christmas” and if they don’t, that is their problem, not mine.

laureth's avatar

That’s a sweet attitude, @wilma, and you must have a very good heart. However, I find that no matter what I assume about people, sometimes my assumptions just aren’t borne out by reality.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The Three Wise Men who brought gifts to Jesus didn’t know what Jesus wanted for Christmas.

They simply gave the best they had to offer.

Wish lists put the consumerism into Christmas… that’s not what it’s about.

Nullo's avatar

Because there really are people who loathe Christianity with every fiber of their being, and want it and its trappings gone. Kinda like the people that you meet who want the world to be rid of Islam.
@laureth The AFA is engaged in the Great Culture War, with an emphasis on keeping Christianity from being marginalized, as those I mention above would have it.

laureth's avatar

@Nullo – There’s a big difference between wanting Christianity erased from the face of the earth, and not wanting Christianity forced upon you.

LostInParadise's avatar

The real question is why anybody would be offended by “Happy Holidays.” As @SavoirFaire pointed out, this was a commercial decision. The same people who get upset by Happy Holidays rush to the defense of free enterprise. They don’t see that it is their same beloved impersonal money grubbing monopolists that came up with a one size fits all holiday greeting.

cazzie's avatar

@laureth I agree with finding those facebook things stupid and pointless. The whole, ‘put Christ back in Christmas’ tirade is ridiculous. I just write, if I can be bothered, ‘Put the ‘Jul’ back in Go’ Jul’.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

From earliest childhood, we all learned that Sticks and Stones can break our bones. But words can never hurt us.

Christians get offended by Atheist Bus Banners and Billboards proclaiming no God exists… mocking it sometimes. It’s a two way street.

We would do well to allow all people to speak their minds, and not be so easily offended. Doing so only brings more attention to it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@laureth : I think I conveyed in my post that I was referring to one-on-one interpersonal greetings, not facebook campaigns or the agendas of organized groups. I spent 10 years working retail, and 8 years before that bartending and waiting tables, and out of deference to everyone’s potentially touchy attitudes I adopted the “Happy Holidays” greeting while at work. It was never said insincerely, but I was always aware that at work I was “on”, the ultimate goal being to make the customers comfortable. But, that said, “Merry Christmas” is my default greeting unless I know that someone celebrates something else. It’s a hold over from childhood, and until people start expressing problems with it, I’ll probably keep it up, because in real life, having to be aware of it at all times devalues the sincerity of the sentiment for me. To you I say “Happy Holidays” because I know that’s what you prefer, and maybe someday I’ll be saying Happy Holidays to everyone. At the moment, the energy needed to be conscious of every greeting is going into other, more important concerns.

laureth's avatar

Would it be more or less offensive if I wish folks “Happy civil Christmas!”? ;) Just to point out, as the original poster made clear, that there’s a big difference between the civil holiday of spending and paid vacation, and the religious celebration of the birth of Jesus?

saint's avatar

Of the top ten things that piss me off, it is when I say Merry Christmas to somebody, and they feel the need to explain to me that they are Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim or anybody else that does not celebrate Christmas.
As if that matters to me.
It’s MY sentiment, it is made in the spirit of good wishes, and they can take or leave it. No lecture required.

comity's avatar

I don’t get offended at all by anyone saying Merry Christmas as I said before. But, I’m a ‘Yenta’ and enjoy being a part of, talking and interacting with people and sharing in the comaraderie. Saying Happy Holidays to me makes me feel golden, fuzzy and included. That’s all. Is that terrible of me?

laureth's avatar

@saint – Do you react with the same aplomb when wished a Happy Solstice or Happy Hanukkah?

filmfann's avatar

I am not offended when someone tells me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwansa or Happy Anything. I figure they are wishing me well.
I wish they would consider my Merry Christmas the same way.

saint's avatar

@laureth I am not sure how I could be bothered by someone giving me wishes that were clearly intended to express good will. But I am willing to hear the explanation.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@laureth : Just a note; my last name is Jewish, although my Dad’s branch of the family converted to Christianity about 150 years ago. Many people wish me “Happy Hanukkah” and I never correct them, it never offends me, I am just glad they’re wishing me happiness. Same with Solstice, Kwanzaa, etc etc.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Wish lists for Christmas are actually the opposite of what Christmas is all about.

Belief in such a thing, as Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, is a gift to the one who believes it. They hold the gift of that belief. They simply wish to share that gift with others.

Like all gifts, they can be accepted or declined. No reason to become offended because someone wanted to share their gift with you. Just accept it or decline it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

People get offended when the gift you share is not the gift they wanted.

comity's avatar

I just looked up the word Yenta. I thought it mean’t talker. But, it means nagging shrew, gossip, unable to keep a secret, and more. I take the word Yenta back. ; ) Any who how, let’s all relax a little. Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all.

wilma's avatar

@laureth I wouldn’t be offended if you wished me “Happy civil Christmas!” As long as I thought that you had said it with good intentions. If that is what and how you celebrate and you mean good wishes to me, then I’d appreciate that.
Also as the Solstice approaches I’ll be thinking of good wishes for you. The turn of the sun is also important to me, but to some folks it doesn’t seem to be important at all. I’m not offended by that, and if I wish them a “Happy Solstice!” they usually just say “oh is that today”.

john65pennington's avatar

Not offensive here in any way. I have been wishing people Merry Christmas for 65 years and I will continue to do so.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’d just like to point out that it’s predominantly angry white Americans who tell me “Merry Christmas” offends them. I frequent several local gas stations, which are all run by men and women from the Middle East.

Every time I wish them Merry Christmas, they don’t get all pissy; they offer me sincere smiles and wish me a Merry Christmas as well, along with either hugs or loving handshakes. If my kids accompany me inside the gas station, the owners/employees offer them chocolates or candy canes. It doesn’t matter if they’re Muslim, they’re just pleased that I wished them well and they’re happy to do the same.

bkcunningham's avatar

In my life I’ve never been told by anybody that I offended them when I’ve wished them a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah. Not one person has ever acted or seemed offended. So, I can’t really say why some people might find it offensive. I think it all started with the spread of the political correctness doctrine/ideology.

laureth's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate – Have you considered that those people are at work, and may even own that franchise? Even if they are offended, they can’t show it or they’ll lose a customer.

Employees everywhere are basically a captive audience. They are pretty much obligated to smile and nod, whatever the customer says.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

That could be said for distasteful shoes too.

Really, as a fashion photographer, my senses are often “offended” by some of the distasteful clothing I see. In respect to the client, and for my job, I keep my feelings to myself.

Coloma's avatar

No offense or disagreement here. Christ-mas IS about christ, whether anyone wishes to acknowledge that or not.
I am not a christian, I resonate the most with eastern philosophies but claim no spiritual titles or affiliations.
Actually I had someone get really offended with me a few years ago, I sent a beautiful Xmas email that was non-denominational, simply a very well done “spiritual” message, generic if you will, about love and caring and peace.
Nature pictures with poetry and music.

An aquaintance flipped out because there was no reference to Jesus and she felt offended. I couldn’t believe it!
My sentiments were ” Oh, this is so pretty and moving, I want to share it with some friends.”
I swear, literally, haha it’s to the point where “old MacDonalds farm” will be offensive to somebody. Oh oh…it’s discriminatory to say “old”, after all 60 is the new 30. Can you spell stoopid? ;-)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@laureth No, I don’t consider that to be a factor. When employees are forced to be polite, they usually have a blank look on their face, or their smile doesn’t reach their eyes. These people are warm and friendly. There have been a few times when I’ve wished a Walmart or Kroger employee a Merry Christmas, and they look at me with that forced smile and say, “Happy holidays”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

That saying isn’t offensive. What is offensive is the incredibly arrogant assumption that everyone and their mother celebrates it and wants it said to them. It’s the default idea that everyone does care about it whatsoever. And it’s hard to not connect it to God because it’s kind of part of the reason for not celebrating anything remotely religious. Saying “Happy Hannukah” would also be inappropriate to say to me, an atheist. And if “Happy Hanukkah” was said to all the Christians on my block during Hanukkah, they wouldn’t like it, trust me. When people say Merry Christmas to me, I say “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it but if you do, Merry Christmas to you”.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I would not be offended if someone said “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” or whatever else to me, I would just say, “Same to you!” and walk on. I think the arrogance is more on the part of the anti-religious than it is on the religious themselves. It’s never inappropriate to wish someone well. It is, however, “inappropriate” to stomp all over someone’s well wishes, as though they are offensive scum for handing them out.

It’s akin to someone giving you a much needed helping hand and saying, “I know you needed the help right now and I love you enough to want to help”, then stomping on their help and saying, “Fuck you, I don’t need your compassion.” People need to swallow their pride and arrogance and just say, “Thank you” or “Same to you!”

Quite a few years back, I did some Christmas shopping for my co-workers at the time, and bought them all some very nice gifts. One co-worker stomped over to my desk, chunked his gift down, glared at me and yelled, “I’m Jewish, dumb bitch!” WTF? I did something nice and he pissed all over it. He could very easily have said, “Thank you for thinking of me” and moved on. It’s people like him that are the arrogant ones, not the ones who try to do something or say something nice.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate or people can just be more inclusive and say happy holidays instead

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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Or people can get over themselves and learn how to say “Thank you for wishing me well” and move along.

DominicX's avatar

And then you have people like me, who are nothing short of atheist but celebrate Christmas and completely fuck over the entire system. :)

Personally, I don’t care what holiday greeting you give me; it makes no difference to me which one it is even if it has nothing to do with my beliefs or what I celebrate. However, I do recognize that not everyone who says “Merry Christmas” is trying to “spread joy”. There are people like the ones @laureth referenced who are saying it because they know some people don’t like it and want to show people that their religion and their holiday is important and everyone should accept it regardless of what they think.

The problem is that when you come across some random person telling you “Merry Christmas” you don’t know what their motive is and I’d guess that more often than not, their motive is the joyful one rather than the spiteful one. So I’d just assume that and not take any offense to being told “Merry Christmas”.

Though now that “Merry Christmas” has become such a “thing” I’d guess that the spiteful motive is being used more and more. Until people are just going to shout “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” at each other in some stupid word-war. This eternally stupid society…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

But I can’t share a gift I don’t possess @Simone_De_Beauvoir. If I’m filled with the spirit of Christmas, I can’t share Kwanzaa with you. I can’t be inclusive for gifts I don’t have.

By default, I literally can’t share Happy Holidays with you if I don’t believe in all of the Holidays.

You may accept or decline the one gift that I can share. But don’t be offended if the gift I share is not the gift you think it should be any more than if you share with the world a fashion sense that I may not approve of. When you wear crazy shoes, you’re choosing to share your fashion sense with the rest of the world. Some people do it with the intention to offend others… for shock value alone.

Would be best if I simply accepted that about you, though it may not be for me… thanks for sharing anyway.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “By default, I literally can’t share Happy Holidays with you if I don’t believe in all of the Holidays.” – really? seriously? Well, then I can only share Halloween with you.

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JilltheTooth's avatar

Just curious as to why it is incumbent upon the well-wisher to be all inclusive of the well-wishing, and not at all on the recipient of the well-wishes to be glad they are wished well? I haven’t celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday for more than 40 years, I have never practiced Judaism, I have never been African American or worshiped Allah, I’m not Wiccab and yet I still don’t take offense of the manner in which someone chooses to be nice to me during the dark cold days of the year.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JilltheTooth And I don’t get why it’s incumbent on everyone to accept that Marry Christmas is the default saying, whatsoever. I never take offense, as I said, just make sure to let them know not everyone believes in this holiday or needs it.

jonsblond's avatar

I agree with you @WillWorkForChocolate and I’m standing with @bkcunningham. (and I’m agnostic)

I think it’s very arrogant and childish to be upset with someone because they greeted you with happiness and warm wishes in a way that wasn’t worded to your liking.

I have never known anyone who wished someone a Merry Christmas who was doing it to spread their beliefs. seriously? I’m glad I don’t know people like that. But then, I take the greeting for what it is and I don’t assume some kind of evil is behind it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jonsblond I don’t think anyone said that any evil is behind it. Nor that it is offensive in itself. Just assumptions behind it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The assumption is on the other foot. The recipient is assuming that it’s being forced upon them, when in actuality, people naturally share what they are excited about. Doesn’t mean anyone has to accept it… Thanks but no thanks will do just fine.

Funny though, some religious fanatics would take offense at the rejection. Those are the ones who would force their dogma upon everyone, rather than simply offer what they believe they have.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t think Christianity is being forced on me through ‘Merry Christmas!’ I don’t think anyone is saying that. And ‘thanks but no thanks’ works fine for me, you’re right. Just like when Jehova’s Witnesses came to my door yesterday and asked to know what happened in my life that made me not believe in God (cause of course something terrible must have like Satan fucking me in the ear) and I didn’t laugh at them and said ’ Not for me, thanks, good bye’

JLeslie's avatar

@saint Why? Why get annoyed? Someone says, “I celebrate Chanukah,” and then you can say witha. Smile, “happy Chanukah!” I never correct people when they say merry Christmas to me, but if someone wants to, why is it a big deal? Especially if it is someone you know, but even strangers. I think that goes back to comments on the Q about how we here more flack about the argument between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from angry white Christians, as pointed out by @WillWorkForChocolate and others than non-Christians. (I actually have no idea if you are white, just generlaizing.)

@all As for intent, that the well wisher has good intentions, I agree. But, when a Christian is trying to convert me, or tell me I am not going to be saved, which I do find very offensive, I try to remember it is from a good place in their heart. I do not, not, equate saying Merry Christmas to people trying to convert anyone, but I am just using an example that intent is not everything, we can also respect each others religious beliefs and not be so self aborbed in our majority. Well, not my majority. I just think it is very easy, when one is part of the majority, to think the minority should just “get over it.”

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Coloma's avatar

I agree 100% with @WillWorkForChocolate

Just graciously accept the well wishes and don’t get all bent out of shape, the fact is, nobody CARES about your fussy, PC, hangups.
It’s just not that hard to be “normal” and polite.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Not celebrating Christmas is a PC hangup? Nice. And celebrating Christmas is normal and polite? LOL

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Heh… I’m just glad that for one month out of the year, people stop asking the standard disingenuous “How you doing”?

JLeslie's avatar

I gotta say, the only people I ever hear telling me Merry Christmas is secular greeting or even that Christmas can be secular is Christians. Ironically.

How many Christians tell me I can have a tree, or surprised I don’t have a tree or lights. Some try to tell me anyone can put up those things. Ok, thanks for letting me know.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The day I hear Santa say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is the day I put the tree away for good.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone-De-Beauvoir

You’re putting words in my mouth. I think you get the jist of what I mean.
That is not what I said, that’s your twist on my words.

But yes, I think all the PC stuff has gone far too far, it’s to the point where one has to be on guard for EVERYTHING, it’s bullshit.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma That is a different conversation. What is PC and what isn’t varies for people. No one has a definition for that. I don’t think it’s PC to hope that people don’t assume everyone celebrates Christmas. It’s realistic, it’s relevant, it’s the U.S. Here in NY, it’s ridiculous to do so, literally. I can see how in a homogeneous Christian community, it’s just the norm. But it isn’t in all places.

JLeslie's avatar

Is anyone really bent out shape about it? I think there are people who think it is better to wish Happy Holidays if you don’t know someone celebrates Christmas. That isn’t bent out of shape. The people most fervent are those who want their damned right to say Merry Christmas in my opinion.

All those keep the CHRIST in Christmas appearing on my facebook news feed. It’s up to the Christians to keep Christ in the holiday. They obsess about people using xmas? I find that funny. I know it is just a small group of vocal Christians doing it, picking up on these little things so they feel under attack. Give me a break. No one is trying to take Christmas away.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

I’m not advocating offending anyone on purpose, but, really, just smile and say “same to you.” Easy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma It is all easy for me. It’s not any more difficult to say ‘I don’t celebrate it but thanks!’ – now people might wonder ‘why do that, at all?’ – so that people’s tunnel-vision is broken and they realize (even if subconsciously) that their reading of the world, their coherent reality isn’t the same for all. And that’s always a good lesson.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

That’s fine, but to get irate and lecture someone for something so innocent and well meaning is over reactive at best, psycho at worst. If someone says ” Merry Christmas” to me I don’t launch into a monologue about how although I do exchange gifts I am really a student of many spiritual philosophies and think Christmas is way over commercialized ad nauseum.

Aster's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir oh for petes sake. It’s just a tradition. You don’t have to say, “I don’t celebrate it.” That just sounds so damn rude, Simone. @Coloma is right. Just say thanks and leave it. Lord.

cazzie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Taking offence at what is meant to be a nice innocent comment is indeed, a PC hangup. You jumping on it and taking offense and twisting what she said is very interesting. Even I understood what @Coloma meant.

Of course no one likes the snide, ‘holier than thou’ crap. Not from anyone.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma I have never seen anyone get irate or lecture anyone (other than what’s @Aster doing right below you to me, ironically) on that kind of thing. In our actual lives (not like fluther, @cazzie, different context and I want you to read my first comment on this q – I don’t take offense if anyone tells me ‘Merry Christmas’) launching into any kind of dialogue like that with random people is futile.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster I’m sorry that sounds rude. It’s not meant to be. It’s just true. And that tradition isn’t everyone’s. Period. No lord. Finally, if it’s ‘just tradition’ or not a big deal or whatever, hopefully you’ll let it slide if I don’t say it back. But even I say it back.

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JLeslie's avatar

How is saying, “I don’t celebrate Christmas,” a lecture?

@Aster How about go live in a Muslim country. Or, if magically America had a majority Muslim. Muslim prayer and symbols all around. People wishing Happy Ramadan or whatever they wish, I don’t know Muslim holidays well. Almost every cartoon on TV for your kids and every sit com for a few weeks about Muslim Santa that your kids don’t partake in. You have to put yourself in the religious minorities place for a moment. Every day of every year being the minority.

Plus, @Simone_De_Beauvoir is right that in NYC it is ridiculous. Around 25% of all New Yorkers are Jewish. And then there is all sorts of other relgions in that city also. So easily 1 in 3 people you might say Merry Christmas to isn’t Christian.

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JilltheTooth's avatar

You know what? Maybe you guys have a point. Maybe saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or “Good Kwanzaa” or “Yay, Solstice” is offensive. But I’m thinking “Happy Holidays” is also offensive. So many have difficult holidays. Depression skyrockets, suicide rates go way up, etc etc. How about we all just say “Merry Whatever The Fuck Doesn’t Offend You”, remove all the spontaneous good wishes from the occasion and be totally politically correct.~

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Aster's avatar

@JLeslie with those statistics I’d certainly not stand in Times Square saying Merry Christmas. I might get lynched.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JilltheTooth I’d agree with you if, for example, the 4 holidays you mention were discussed in equal measure (how many people respect Wiccans enough to say ‘yay, solstice’?). That isn’t the case though.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth I still don’t think anyone is saying Merry Christmas is offensive. At least from where I sit that is how I have read the answers. I just don’t get why saying Happy Holidays is so offensive to some people?

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DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie So…wait…people who are claiming saying “Merry Christmas” can never be offensive are claiming that “Happy Holidays” is offensive? I think this calls for this

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX Not necessarily that, though I think some (very few) people might be thinking that. But, for example, @RealEyesRealizeRealLies stated above that they can’t say ‘Happy Holidays’ because they don’t believe in all the holidays.

cazzie's avatar

I like it! Merry the Whatever the Fuck doesn’t Offend you to everyone!

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You would love our Solstice celebrations here, in Norway, in our pagan group. A friend of mine is ordained to marry people in the pagan fashion. I want to get myself invited to a proper Old Norse Pagan wedding.

I ABSOLUTELY think there needs to be room for how ever people choose to celebrate the season. I think, whatever people say to me, I will take it in the spirit it was intended and never say, ‘No thank you.’ If you don’t believe in the holidays, and are wished a Merry ‘whatever’ I think the proper response is ‘Bah Humbug’. So be it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster Come on. No one is lynching anyone. Give me a break. That is your response? You’re not going to be enlightened by my stats, just sarcastic? @Simone_De_Beauvoir has a different perspective than you, because her surroundings are probably very different from yours. Her persepective is rather logical because of where she lives. Why does it matter so much to you to say Merry Christmas? Seriously, I am curious, why is it so important?

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chyna's avatar

This has gone totally off topic. Please remember the topic is Merry Christmas, not lynchings or discrimination.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Since you are back, I don’t think you answered any of my questions, my answer was thrid from the very top. I was just wondering your thoughts on the topic.

AnyaLee's avatar

Because not everyone celebrates the holiday…some people are more sensitive than others.

chyna's avatar

Think about it, wouldn’t you find it odd if someone wished you a Happy Kwanza (assuming you are not black) Or, Happy New Year in September during Rosh Hashana?
This is what you want my thoughts on? I could care less if someone wished me Happy New Year in September.

Blackberry's avatar

TL;DR everything.
I’m not offended at all, but like Laureth stated, to some, there’s an attitude about it. We assume people are christian until we hear otherwise and some think they have a privilege because there’s so many christians in America?

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna it would not just be one stray person, it would be every time you buy something, every time you interact with people. I have no idea what religion you are, but I am just asking you to put yourself in the place of the religious minority (if you are not one) all year long you are reminded that you are surrounded by people who are not your religion, some of them talk like they want the whole country and government to be their religion, symbols everywhere, TV shows, and then to top it off, they even at holiday time don’t give a damn it isn’t your holiday to the point they are angry when you just patiently let them know, you don’t celebrate the holiday.

tinyfaery's avatar

Do we really have to this every year? Because we do and it never amounts to anything.

Happy everything, people. It ain’t all that.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Like I said waaaay up there, @JLeslie , I’m not Christian and I take no offense. Like I also said waaaay up there, I have a Jewish last name and am often wished appropriate things related to Judaism at various times of the year and I’m never offended. People wishing me good stuff have my thanks and appreciation. I know you’re Q there was directed at @chyna , but the wording indicated that you were speaking for non-Christians in general.

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creative1's avatar

There are several other holidays in December for other religions and it is just rude of us Christians to assume that everyone should celebrate our holiday.

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Aethelflaed's avatar

@Coloma Yeah, but sometimes it seems like “united in kindredship” means “non-Christians need to get over their making mountains out of molehills, STFU, and stand with Christians already”, not “both parties need to make concessions and try to step into the others’ shoes in order to work together”. And sometimes unity is silencing; it can be nice to just say “nope, not uniting, I’m an island to myself, just over here, doing my own thing”.

smilingheart1's avatar

Merry Christmas is the exclamation of the Good News of Christ. Never offensive, except to those who don’t want a message of hope. The thing that offends me is Christmas shopping next to a harangued someone who exclaims loudly while they look for the right waist/length for their special someone’s Levis: JEEEEEEEEEEEEESUS F****ING CHRIST. Clearly this is in the context of a swear not a prayer. Why bother?

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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’ll tell you the truth about why I tell people Merry Christmas this time of year. I’m not really saying Merry Christmas because I’m joyful about the season. I’m really saying Merry Christmas because I’m a terrible person with arrogant assumptions that everyone I come into contact with is a Christian who celebrates Christmas.

It’s not possible at all that I’m so overcome with excitement over Christmas that I just want to share that joy with everyone, oh no, it’s that I want to offend as many people as possible by being just another arrogant, insensitive religious fanatic. You figured me out finally. That’s what Christmas is all about to me. It’s not about the happiness of the holiday or the excitement I see in my children’s eyes, no sir, it’s all about doing my best to force myself on others and piss them off.

Every day I leave the house, I force myself on men, women and children and tie them down until they say Merry Christmas back to me. I refuse to just say “Have a Merry Christmas” and give a cheery smile and wave as I walk away, oh no no no, that doesn’t content me. I have to say it in a menacing tone and cram a bible down their throats. I get off on hurting other people when I tell them Merry Christmas. Yup, those are the real motivations behind saying “Merry Christmas”.

Now that we’ve got that clear, who wants some delicious Christmas cookies that were baked with arrogance and evil motives? Watch out for the miniature bibles that I fashioned into razor blades.

Wait, forget the cookies, and forget everything I said, just have a Merry Christmas. Whether you like it or not, dammit.

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comity's avatar

176 emotional responses, a sensitive subject for many. Our beliefs bring out the best and worst in us at times. In my family we have members who are Christians, Atheists, Jews, Vegans (it’s like a religion) and sometimes I have to walk carefully. We all mean well, and care deeply, sometimes too deeply. Let’s all breathe in and say aaah! Just enjoy the holidays guys and drive carefully! : )

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Ahem. Please remember: This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

So… would you be offended if I wished you a Merry Christmas?

augustlan's avatar

To actually answer the question for myself…

As an atheist who celebrates a kind of secular Christmas, I am never offended when someone wishes me a merry Christmas. If I know you celebrate Christmas, I’ll wish you one, too. If I know you’re Jewish, I’ll wish you happy Hanukkah, etc.

What I do find offensive are the people who go around ranting about how offensive it is to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”. In response to one of those Facebook ‘Keep Christ in Christmas, don’t use the PC bullshit phrase “Happy holidays”’ thingies, this is what I wrote:

1) If you don’t know what they celebrate, “Happy holidays” is perfectly appropriate. It’s not politically correct, it’s inclusive and nice.

2) Christ is the reason for Christmas, yes. However, it does no one any harm to remember that Christmas is not the only holiday people are celebrating at around the same time. Saying Merry Christmas to a Jew or Buddhist or atheist, for that matter, isn’t very inclusive, is it? Saying Happy holidays covers everyone.

In other words, “happy holidays” shouldn’t offend anyone, because it’s not excluding anyone. The phrase includes Christians and Christmas. It just goes a step or two beyond “Merry Christmas” and recognizes other important holidays, too.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth Thanks for addressing my question. Just to be clear, if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I say Merry Christmas right back. I am not offended. I just understand why some people might argue for using Happy Holidays, and I don’t understand why the angry insistant Merry Christmaser doesn’t understand why, and why they are actually so annoyed that some people prefer to be inclusive and included. Especially if retail wants their employees to do it. They are a business, they want everyone to feel welcome. I think @augustlan summed it up really well.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : Maybe out in the world where you are, people object to the idea of “Happy Holidays” but I have never met anyone who “doesn’t understand” why some might prefer it. The people you refer to are, in my experience, very few but very loud. I discount them.

As I explained waaaaaaay up there Geez, I’ve sure posted a lot on this Q! I have no objection at all to “Happy Holidays” and may one day adopt it. But for all those years working in service industries, when I had to say it, it spoiled some of the spontaneity for me. If I know my use of “Merry Christmas” may upset someone, then “Happy Holidays” it is. But I’d rather, at this time of year, when I’m enjoying myself being out and bustling about for holiday prep, which I like a lot, not have to force myself to remember to say something else a hundred times a day. The sentiments I express are friendly and happy and spontaneous. If someone chooses to object to that for whatever reason, fine. If they choose to tell me so, fine, I’ll probably shrug and say OK and walk away. Like I said before, I appreciate when someone wishes me well, however they do it. It’s the intent that matters to me not the words. Yes, I could put the effort into switching over my default greeting, but anything I say could bother someone. If I ever meet you in person at this time of year, I will endeavor to say something like “Wow, sure gets dark early this time of year, huh?” because you’re an atheist and any reference to a holiday might be inappropriate.

saint's avatar

The question presumes that it is offensive. I never thought it was.
But apparently it is offensive enough on Fluther to get modded for saying “Merry Christmas” and it appears that I did.
The only answer I can come up with to the question “Why” is that people are either offended by the word “Merry” which I doubt, or the word “Christmas”, which I figure is the problem. Some people (not all, to be sure) think that it represents the birthdate of Jesus Christ. Some people (not all, and not me for sure) think that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the saviour of their immortal souls. That would make it a powerful birthday indeed. I guess other people find that notion so repulsive, that they feel that they must be offended by being reminded that others believe it. Is that better?

mattbrowne's avatar

Finding “Merry Christmas” offensive is like finding “Enjoy your Sunday” offensive. The latter has pagan roots which are related to worshiping solar deities. The same applies to “Happy Holiday” because the word holiday comes from the religious notion of holiness.

In fact, in order to eliminate the risk of being offensive I’d say about 50% of the words in our common vocabulary have to be deleted from the dictionary.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@saint : Where, on Fluther, did anyone ”...get modded for saying ‘Merry Christmas?’” Wouldn’t this entire thread be modded out if that were the case? Seems a rather silly statement to make.

Aster's avatar

@JLeslie You did enlighten me and I appreciate it. You’re right; we are living in a totally Christian , church and family oriented Bible Belt area. And now I will be more cautious about saying, “Merry Christmas” because of you. Thank you. And , when I say Christian , I don’t necessarily mean these relatives and townspeople act Christian. All I mean is that they’re trying to be that way and, like many of us, often fail miserably. I do witness quite a bit of consistent giving, helping and loving behaviors which may also exist amongst atheists. I have never heard the term, “atheist” from any of them. It’s like they live in their own little bubble. But , then, all of them are older than I am for whatever that’s worth. This area is no “melting pot” that’s for sure!

flutherother's avatar

@Aster If you live in a totally Christian Bible Belt area why would you be cautious in saying ‘Merry Christmas’? I live in a city with a very diverse population and we all celebrate our own festivals in our own way and I hope no one feels the need to be cautious. In Scotland Christmas used to take second place to the more neutral New Year celebrations but Christmas is now probably more important.

Aster's avatar

@flutherother good question. hmmm I think I feel awkward saying it because of Facebook and certain religious shows that go on and on about “I am not ashamed to say Merry Christmas!” So I started feeling wary about it in public; not at all with relatives or the people around here. I never felt like this before the “politically correct” stuff and suing people began getting totally out of hand.

SavoirFaire's avatar

No one got moderated for saying “merry Christmas,” of course. As @augustlan clearly noted, this question is in General. Thus the off-topic posts were removed, regardless of whether they included Christmas greetings or not.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth You and I agree.

It also is worth pointing out when someone wishes you Happy Chanukah it, as you say is, because you have a Jewish sounding last name, so in that instance someone is making the effort to wish you happy on your holiday, even if their presumption is wrong, which is different than what some people have said, which is basically, I’ll say whatever I want, Christmas is my holiday, I wish it cause I want to, why is everyone trying to take Christmas away? Which is definitely the sentiment with some people where I live, they feel like the yankees, federal government, and antheists are trying to take Christianity and God away, including Christmas. I think you are in CT right? Unless my memory is wrong. A world of difference from parts of TN, AL, MS to name a few. What you said is different, which was, I say Merry Christmas, I don’t want to alway think about and walk on egg shells when I wish someone a happy during the holiday season. I totally agree with you. There is a subtle difference, but it goes to you don’t resent anyone or feel someone is trying to take away your holiday, I don’t feel you are beng defensive or paranoid. That also goes to intent, and respect, and understanding. I never feel like you have some sort of agenda.

It seemed to me @chyna was being unfair with her analogy, she wrote, Yes, it has religious connotation’s with it, but so does “happy Hanukkah” and I don’t think I’ve heard that people don’t want that said and that said to me she isn’t using a fiar analogy, because I don’t know anyone who says Happy Chanukah, unless they think the person they are talking to is Jewish.

@Aster I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t say Merry Christmas, especially if you live in a very Christian community, I was just trying to point out to people on the thread in general that there are a variety of reasons to be aware of he diversity around us, when it is around us, and try to put ourselves in the other persons place.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Too much damned fuss. Really. I am shamelessly selfish and arrogant in that I assume people will react like I do, and be glad someone else is cheerful during the cold, dark time of year. I already do a lot to try to ease the burden of some people that are less fortunate than myself, and I know there are loads of people here who will say I’m doing that wrong, or giving to the wrong charities, or not doing what they think I should, and I have seen nothing to indicate that any of these people are more educated on the issues than I am, or are more caring than I am. I refuse to be told by all these people that are “not offended” that I should behave differently, when I’m not behaving badly. Done here, now.

Cupcake's avatar

Woah… emotions run high.

I don’t celebrate Christmas. I am a Baha’i and, while I believe in Jesus, I only celebrate Baha’i Holy Days (and US holidays like Thanksgiving/Halloween/4th of July, etc.). Even though there are not Baha’i Holy Days in December and our new year is the first day of spring, not January 1st… I don’t take offense to “happy holidays” or “merry Christmas” or “happy new year”. What does bother me somewhat is when people talk to my children about Santa and presents and Christmas. I think we live in an age where people should be more aware that there are a variety of beliefs and practices and should be sensitive to the experiences of children. By the way – this also applies to Easter and the tooth fairy and any other imaginary creatures that I will not tell my children about. I will be sensitive enough to teach my children that others believe in these imaginary beings and to not “rain on their parade”, so to speak. All I am asking is that people be sensitive to the experience of children who are not raised to believe in these things.

Please don’t take my words to mean that I am offended or upset or go on a tirade… I would just encourage people to recognize that people have different beliefs and practices and to perhaps ask the parent if they can talk to a child about Christmas/Santa/presents/the Easter Bunny, etc.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I can’t figure out why people keep reading these responses as emotional. Do we not realize it is possible to have rational disagreements as well as emotional ones?

JLeslie's avatar

@SavoirFaire I know what you mean. I wonder who is emotional on the thread? I didn’t feel emotional in any of my responses. Although, I do perceive some of the Merry Christmas people as being “emotional.” So maybe I come across that way also? There have been Q’s that have worked me up a little though.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Cupcake's avatar

I am just surprised by the sarcasm and name-calling. I didn’t mean to imply that there were not well thought-out and rational responses. The thread is about giving people well wishes, and the reactions of some who do not celebrate Christmas. From there, it seems as though some people are taking the comments of those who do not celebrate Christmas out of context. I have not seen comments that receiving wishes of “Merry Christmas” is offensive, but I have found offensive and judgmental comments by those who say Merry Christmas themselves.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Cupcake Actually, there were quite a few comments about people who say “Merry Christmas” being offensive, and that they have ulterior motives behind it, which is how this comment of mine came to be. I used a lot of comments taken from other jellies (both on this thread and on past threads about the same thing) to make my point. Almost everything that I said in that comment has been said by a jelly at some point, or is a deliberate exaggeration of what I’ve seen other jellies say.

comity's avatar

“When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favour of the belief for which he finds in himself” Betrand Russell

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake So you are kind of at where @DominicX and I were I guess. I think in psychology they call that behavior projecting. Not that you are projecting, that some of the Merry Xmas people are/were.

@WillWorkForChocolate You are taking offense, feeling lumped in with those who do rant about how taking the Christmas out of Christmas is an assault on Christianity. Don’t do that. No one is saying all people who say Merry Christmas are horrible pushy unaware people. Why does this happen? Why do Christians so often think they are under attack or viewed as though all Christians are alike? No one thinks that.

incendiary_dan's avatar

God damn it everyone. Just don’t be turds to each other. The end. This goes for whatever holiday well wishes one uses.

The_Idler's avatar

I’m glad we don’t have all that shit over here…. Y’all now have people saying “Merry Christmas” with ulterior motives!? Ugh.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JLeslie Wow, lol. Really? I wasn’t “feeling lumped in” with anyone. I took exception to seeing comments by a few specific jellies stating that people who prefer to say Merry Christmas are arrogant and have ulterior motives behind the saying.

“Why do Christians so often think they are under attack or viewed as though all Christians are alike?”

LMFAO. Perhaps I should have commented sarcastically about shoving Santa down people’s throats instead of bibles, so you wouldn’t get your dander up about me being an over-sensitive Christian.

I did not take offense to those comments because I’m a Christian and I felt like I was under attack. I took offense because I know exactly why I say Merry Christmas to people, and it is not out of arrogance, nor is it because I have any ulterior motive. Which is exactly what was said in this thread, in case you’ve chosen to forget that.

And please, if you’re going to use something I said, then get it correct. “I think that goes back to comments on the Q about how we here more flack about the argument between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from angry white Christians, as pointed out by @WillWorkForChocolate.” I didn’t say “angry white Christians”, I said “angry white Americans”. You put the word “Christians” in my mouth for me.

Again, every word in that long, sarcastic comment of mine was made to illustrate a point against all the arrogant assumptions I’ve seen other jellies make about people who say Merry Christmas. Some of it was exaggerated on purpose, to prove how silly some of the comments were.

I didn’t make that comment as an outraged Christian who felt like her faith was under attack. I made a few sarcastic remarks about beliefs and bibles specifically to make fun of comments that mentioned those. I made that comment as an outraged jelly who saw for a FACT that religious and non-religious jellies alike were under attack and being accused of being pushy, extremely arrogant, and of having ulterior motives.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Ok. My apologies. I guess we are in the same boat then. Not offended, and pointing out how others might be perceived as offensive. And, sorry for it seeming I was changing your wprds from Americans to Christians, that is my mistake, I didn’t realize I had done that. Around me they are Christians, those were my words, and I was meaning to acknowledge what you had already said, like a give you credit also. I was not quoting you, no quotes, no italics, but my wording was poor in that it did seem like I was saying you said the exact same thing. I actually had forgotten you had said all that above until you just pointed it all out again. Just got caught up in the last few posts.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Came back because this was brought to my attention. So many people up there, @JLeslie , that declared that they were “not offended” found it necessary to say, a number of times, that “Happy Holidays” was less offensive and should therefore be used. It was pointed put by the “not offended” ones that the implication of saying “Merry Christmas” is that we MC sayers think that everybody feels that we do. When we point out again and again that we don’t think that way, that are being cheerful and spontaneous based on our own feelings, we become the “offended” ones. There’s a very “Stevie Wonder is God” kind of logic there.

comity's avatar

Visiting family next week for Chanukah. Others visiting Grandma for Christmas. A busy time! Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Time for me to move on and switch channels! Take care all!

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth I am not talking about you, I am talking about the people who are offended. Be my facebook friend and see how many of my friends write bullshit on the topic. Bullshit full of fear and paranoia. Well, I guess it only works if they allow friends of friends to see their posts. I can start sending them to you in PM’s if you want when they happen, and the long thread of people agreeing.

I told you if you say Merry Christmas to me I say it back. I don’t think you have any hidden agenda, I don’t think you want to bother to overthink it, you just want to be merry and wish other the same. I get it, I understand the sentiment. Are you saying no Christians out there are offended by Happy Holidays? Give me a break. As I am sure there are non Christians offended by Merry Christmas, or at least offended that some people in the country seem totally unaware how diverse the country is, and want to put a stop to the diversity to be honest. They might be a small loud few who are that extreme, that I completely admit to. But it is not a few in my neck of the woods who never even gave it a thought that someone might not celebrate Christmas. They say, “but it is secular too, everyone can celebrate Christmas, it is a Federal holiday.” I think the OP made that point. Not that I feel the OP was being ignorant, just saying this is the type of things we hear when we say we don’t celebrate Christmas. Not giving it a thought is very different than purposely being pissed off about Happy Holidays. Not giving it a thought, and then having someone explain why, and being pensive on the topic, that is fine with me. None of us are aware of everything no big deal. When I was in college I jokingly said, we need to get some chanukah decorations up also, to a girl who was working in my dorm, and she replied, “why, are you from Canada?” I wasn’t mad at her for being ignorant about Judaism.

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie “When I was in college I jokingly said, we need to get some chanukah decorations up also, to a girl who was working in my dorm, and she replied, “why, are you from Canada?” I wasn’t mad at her for being ignorant about Judaism.”
LOL! That made me laugh! Did that happen at MI State?
So did you also put up some chanukah decorations?

It’s sad that folks on both extreme ends of this debate can’t relax and try to not get upset over what they think someone else might be trying to say.
Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie :When I was in college I jokingly said, we need to get some chanukah decorations up also, to a girl who was working in my dorm, and she replied, “why, are you from Canada?”

I too found this the funniest line of the day.

And I repeat, “Happy non-denominational winter holiday greetings.”

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma Yeah it was at MSU. I met a lot of people who said they had never met a Jewish person before meeting me when I was at school there. I didn’t put up any Chanukah decorations; I was commenting on the lobby of my dorm; it didn’t really bother me that there weren’t any Chanukah decorations. I did say back to her, “Canada? Why Canada?” She replied, “isn’t that where some people have Chanukah?” Too funny. I told her it was a Jewish holiday and that I was from MD.

It’s kind of hard to believe a Michigander could get the age of 18 and never have met a Jewish person or know nothing about the Jewish holidays. But, several of the people I knew were farmers, so probably from towns with very small populations, and many went to Catholic school growing up. Not to be confused with the cities I am usually in when I go up to visit now, which are Royal Oak and Gross Pointe and of course East Lansing.

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flutherother's avatar

Canuck is a slang term for a Canadian. That’s probably how the confusion arose.

JLeslie's avatar

@flutherother Of course! :) I should have thought of that. Makes perfect sense.

wilma's avatar

@flutherother LOL! Well I never made that connection!. But we do call them Canucks on occasion, perhaps you are right.

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