1. Religion & Spirituality

Discuss in my forum

Austin Cline

Forum Discussion: Are You Offended by "Merry Christmas"?

By December 18, 2013

Follow me on:

One of the curious features of the so-called "War on Christmas" is how the Christian Nationalists misrepresent others. For example, they act like people try to use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" because the latter is somehow "offensive" and therefore people are "offended" by Christmas. The truth is that people use "Happy Holidays" in order to treat everyone equally instead of singling out Christians for special treatment.

If anyone is "offended" by the latter greeting, it's more likely that they are offended by the presumption that everyone celebrates Christmas or perhaps the presumption that the state has the authority to single out Christmas for special recognition. Admitting this would be difficult for Christian Nationalists because it would undermine their self-righteous rage.

A forum member writes:

I am curious as to how many of the atheists and agnostics here are offended by the use of "Merry Christmas" as a greeting or display, as opposed to "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." My thinking is that it really is of no consequence to me how the name of the holiday is derived, it is in the United States and many countries the name of a holiday which many people, including me, enjoy for secular reasons.

Actually, I don't see why "Happy Hanukkah" or any other expression of good will is offensive -- it's the thought that counts. The reason given for suppressing "Merry Christmas" is that it is offensive to some. Do many atheists find it offensive?

I personally use "Happy Holidays" because it's a sign of respect to strangers -- I can't know for sure what holiday or holidays they celebrate, so why be presumptuous by only wishing them well on one which they may not care about? When someone says "Merry Christmas," however, I'm not personally offended. I might notice that they don't seem to care what holiday I may or may not celebrate, but then again I might not.

What do you say and what do yo think about the choices? Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.

December 19, 2007 at 11:16 am
(1) ee says:

you are correct the appreviation A.D. means Anno Domini (In the year of our lord). This convention for writing the date was developed in 525 and was widely used by the 8th century.

But if we are going to talk about days

Monday – named for the Moon, which got its name from the Germanic Moon god Mona.
Tuesday – from the Nordic god Tyr
Wednesday – from the Germanic god Woden
Thursday – means “Day of Thundor”
Friday – named after Frigg
Saturday – from the Roman god Saturn
Sunday – refers to the Sun

Would you like to talk about the Months also??

December 19, 2007 at 12:20 pm
(2) nal says:

I think atheists would be less offended by “Merry Christmas” than many from another religions such as Islam or Judaism.

December 19, 2007 at 4:10 pm
(3) tracieh says:

I don’t know if “offended by it” adequately describes my perspective. I don’t take it as an affront. But I do recognize that the person offering the greeting is a bone-head in the sense that they assume everyone celebrates the same holiday as they do.

In other words, for my part, if I don’t know what your preference is, I’ll likey say something as generic as possible: “Happy Holidays.” This still presumes the person celebrates something. But it’s far less of a presumptuous attitude than narrowing down the holiday to me specific religious preference.

I guess I see “Merry Xmas” along the same lines as meeting a strange woman in a public park who is pushing a stroller with a child in it. I don’t know her, but I say, “OH, what a cute baby! He doesn’t have your blonde hair, though. He must have your husband’s hair.”

While presuming the baby is (1) hers and (2) not adopted are generally not considered a breach of consideration, assuming a woman with a baby must be married would be a clodish thing to say.

Now, the woman, even if she is single, may have no problem with the presumption. She may say outright: “Oh, I’m not married–but the hair actually comes from my dad’s side of the family…”

So, even though the “husband” remark is a “foot in mouth” thing to say–it may or may not have been said with any malice. And the person hearing it may / may not take offense.

That’s how I view the greeting, “Merry Xmas.”

December 19, 2007 at 5:37 pm
(4) nal says:

The “husband” remark is a “foot in mouth” thing to say–it may be that the husband is not the father.

Better to stop at “cute baby”.

December 19, 2007 at 8:16 pm
(5) CrypticLife says:

You mean, the reference to the husband isn’t just to find out whether she’s single? Do we have to go to referring to her as “madame”, and letting her correct us to “mademoiselle”?

Anyway, I’m not offended by Merry Christmas. I am offended by those who think it’s some sort of mandate, though.

December 19, 2007 at 9:56 pm
(6) Kidding says:

Shouldn’t it be happy holiday? I only do one holiday this time of year. I’m sick of people at the store trying to push kwanza and hanukkah on me too. :)

December 20, 2007 at 5:45 am
(7) Austin Cline says:

Shouldn’t it be happy holiday? I only do one holiday this time of year.

1. You ignore New Year’s?

2. Unless you wear a t-shirt that says “I only do one holiday this time of year,” why should anyone assume that you ignore all but one holiday?

December 24, 2007 at 2:10 pm
(8) John Hanks says:

There is no reason to be offended by small talk. Any expression that is used to manipulate or intimidate me is always asking for a tough and obscene reaction along the Cheney line.

December 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm
(9) John Halloran says:

As an atheist, I’m not offended by “Merry Christmas” at all. I take it as a friendly well-wish, not as a rude presumption that I celebrate the day as the birth Jesus Christ. I agree with “nal” that it might be more the adherents of other religions who might take offense at this greeting.
I can’t rule out, however, that my attitude may also owe something to the fact that I was raised Catholic.

December 26, 2007 at 12:18 pm
(10) Zack says:

I’m an atheist. I say, “Have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a Kwaaaaazy Kwanza!”

Apologies to Krusty the clown.

December 26, 2007 at 12:20 pm
(11) Zack says:

It’s funny how the same Christians who squeak about taking Christ out of Christmas are the same ones who will run the phoney-baloney “hereafter house” at Halloween.

December 26, 2007 at 8:04 pm
(12) JimboB says:

As a Pastafarian, I respond to “Merry Christmas” with a hearty “Merry ChriFSMas”.
When making the initial greeting, however, I just say Happy Holidays. If they get offended because I didn’t cater to their religious affiliation, I tell them they should be more tolerant :)

December 28, 2007 at 1:41 pm
(13) ELVISJ says:

I don’t like anyone saying thing about their religion holidays to me unless they know me. When someone says merry christ or happy holidays or ever, god bless you, for whatever reason, I look them in the eye and say No Thank You.

November 19, 2008 at 8:29 am
(14) Pujjuut says:

I like the christian christmas, you get the day off work ,a reason to have a few drinks during the day and “celebrate” it with many members of the family. I’m an atheist and respond “happy holidays” to “merry christmas”, most people won’t even notice that it’s a different greeting.

November 19, 2008 at 11:56 am
(15) galderon says:

Christmas in the strange position of also being the default secular holiday. I would think strangers would rarely wish you a happy Kwanzaa or Hanukkah unless they have some sort of indication that you celebrate those holidays.

I would find it very strange for a secularist to be offended by someone wishing them “Merry Christmas”.

The opposite is not true…some Christians get very offended if you wish them “Happy Holidays”.

That’s been my observation, anyway.

November 19, 2008 at 12:58 pm
(16) tracieh says:

Then there’s the ever-nonoffensive response to “Merry Christmas,” “Reason’s Greetings!” Or “Happy Solstice!”

When I offer a greeting–I consider it to be _for_ the person I am greeting; in that regard, I think respect for the other person is in order.

The Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but the Platinum Rule is “treat others how they would like to be treated.”

If X celebrates Christmas, and Y celebrates Channukah–it seems really nuts to me for X to wish Y a “Merry Christmas.” Y won’t have _any_ Christmas–so the greeting is meaningless. But if X wishes Y “Happy Holiday/s”–then Y can apply it generically to Channukah. If I _know_ a person celebrates Christmas, I have no qualms about sending him/her a Chistmas card. If my friend celebrate Channukah, I send a Channukah card. No problem for me–it’s _for them_ after all. Otherwise, I send holiday greetings to people during the holidays.

November 19, 2008 at 1:48 pm
(17) The Sojourner says:

I just like the generic “Happy Holiday/s” or “Happy Holiday of Your Choice”. I’ve always worked in places that had a variety of people with different religious backgrounds, including Muslim and Hindu co-workers. No one seems to have been insulted yet. “Merry Christmas” said to me, doesn’t upset me.

November 19, 2008 at 2:15 pm
(18) Eric says:

I am not offended by someone wishing me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. I am offended by those that try to force their point of view on others by requiring others to ONLY say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. The message is from the heart of the giver and not necessarily the words.

November 19, 2008 at 6:07 pm
(19) Don Pope says:

I just say: “Happy Festivus!” and proceed to the “airing of grievances” and the “feats of strength”.

November 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm
(20) DaveTheWave says:

I remember “Happy Holidays” being used as far back as the 1960s when my parents told me that it is a more inclusive greeting. I was in a diverse elementary school at the time and there were many Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, plus some Buddhists, Taoists, etc. It was a public school on the upper east side of NYC and a lot of UN diplomats’ kids attended. It was a wonderful school, unfortunately now demolished. But I clearly recall being told that it was simply easier to use a more generic greeting that included more people, and that was that. There was no bashing of Christmas or any other holiday, and in fact if anything, Christmas was the main attraction. A couple of years back I was wished a Happy Kwanzaa and I thanked the wisher, as I was happy to be included in her good wishes, and didn’t find it at all offensive. I was raised Catholic Lite in NYC and attended some Jewish friends’ Hanukkah celebrations and got wished Happy Hanukkah and was happy to be included in the festivities. Of course if they knew how I now feel about religion I probably would not be invited. :(

November 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm
(21) BEX says:

Happy Christmahannakwanzika to you!

November 20, 2008 at 3:05 am
(22) Badger3k says:

I also would say that I am not usually offended, since I either hear it in the context of someone who wishes me to enjoy the holiday season or else is simply spouting the rote vocalization demanded during this long season of kitsch. Depending on the individual, I may just wish them the same (since if they say it I assume the celebrate it, and couldn’t care what their religion is), or else just say, “thanks, but I don’t celebrate that day.” Given that I live in Texas, most people automatically assume you are a bible-breathing jeebus freak (although most of the students I know are not very devout, or even well read or educated in their beliefs – one semi-creationist leaning student was surprised that I had the bible on my iPhone and read it, when he had not).

November 20, 2008 at 5:04 am
(23) sornord says:

Am not offended at all. It’s the same to me as someone saying, “Bless you,” if I sneeze. But I’ll roll my eyes and say, “Uh….okay?” if the greeter starts going off on the “reason for the season” stuff.

November 20, 2008 at 9:26 am
(24) MikeC says:

Comments from 2007?

Anyhoo, I’m not particularly offended by Merry Christmas.

I do get offended when people like Bill O’Reilly scream about Happy Holidays being some sort of attack on Xians. Holiday is derived from Holy Day. Saying Happy Holidays makes anyone (who celebrates a holy day) included. But “Papa Bear” has never been about inclusion has he? (Unless you’re a white, closed-minded, Neo-con Xian)

November 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm
(25) Mikel says:

Kudos to MikeC. As an atheist, I am not offended by “Merry Christmas.” In fact, I take it as a statement of goodwill and as that it warms my heart. I’m only offended by the set that tries to take the traditional greeting and turn it into fightin’ words.

November 25, 2008 at 5:28 am
(26) Eric O says:

Someone wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper the other day, saying that the only reason stores are now saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is because of a small group of “bigoted atheists”, who are trying to remove all religious references from the public eye.

Honestly, how far gone does someone have to be to see failure to recognise one’s favoured holiday over all others as bigotry?

On another note, I didn’t realise we atheists had that much influence and power. Step aside, Jews! There’s a new conspiracy in town!

November 25, 2008 at 12:26 pm
(27) gabriel says:

i am not offended. never was or have. i dont hate religous people i just dont care for god.

November 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm
(28) Eddie Van Helsing says:

Yes, I’m an atheist, and I’d like to see Christianity fade away into history, along with all other forms of monotheism. However, I have better things to do than get pissy because somebody says ‘Merry Christmas’.

November 25, 2008 at 2:17 pm
(29) Anonymous says:

I say “Merry Christmas”.

If you’re offended by it, tough. Hell, most people are offended by just waking up in the morning.

We, as a country, are getting too politically correct. It’s time we stopped accomodating everyone’s fake religions and start re-building this once-great country of ours.

November 26, 2008 at 9:53 am
(30) Robert says:

I’m with you Eddie Van Helsing (28). Christmas is not religion specific, even though some think it is. As well as a holiday, it is a time of year. As aethiests, I think we would do well to demonstrate some generousity of spirit to others in our culture by acknowledging their well indended wishes, ajnd simply wish them back the same as they express to us.
Christmas, as a season, is part of our culture. To take issue with someone’s good wishes to us is bordering on the very type of narrow mindedness of which we frequently accuse Christians. There are a great many other issues that are far more deserving of our attention and comment than a well meant wish for our happiness during the Christmas season. Let’s get with the program and stop quibbling like children.

November 26, 2008 at 10:49 pm
(31) KLU says:

Thank goodness my fellow atheists are not offended by “Merry Christmas” (except for the one who hates Bill O’Reilly). Annonymous said it best. Let us all enjoy this holiday season and celebrate with Christians and non-Christians alike.

Merry Christmas everyone!
I hope Santa gives you lots of presents.

November 29, 2008 at 3:15 am
(32) Tim G. says:

No. I’m not offended by any holiday greeting. That is silly. If a Christian wishes me “Merry Christmas”, of if a Jewish person wishes me “Happy Hannukah”, or whatever, I treat it as an invitation to join in their particular cultural festivity. How could anybody be offended by a thing like that? It’s not about: “me, me, me.” It’s about: “let’s all have a good time, whatever it is we celebrate.”

November 30, 2008 at 10:12 pm
(33) DanK says:

Not only am I not offended but I return the greeting in the spirit it is tendered to me. I believe that in most cases the Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah or whatever is said with the hopes that I too will enjoy the season and I appreciate the sentiment.

December 24, 2008 at 2:29 am
(34) Mike says:

I’m a Christian. I went on a atheist message board to see how atheists feel about someone saying Merry Christmas. Since we just finished up December 23rd, I started by saying Happy Festivus, then I said Hope your Dec. 25th is enjoyable. And that’s Christmas. So merry Christmas. Is that offensive? I submit that it should not be. All the comments I got back from the atheists were of Merry Christmas in return, No I’m not offended by that…there was even one guy who said “Do you really think we’re pricks like that?” I didn’t really think they were, but I kind of wanted to find out. And I found out these atheists didn’t act offended, and this is on a message board where pretty much anything goes. So I’m still trying to figure out who the people are that do respond in an offended manner when someone tells them “Merry Christmas.” I haven’t found out yet. I hope to, though.

December 16, 2009 at 10:36 am
(35) DavidW says:

I’ll start worrying about it being called Christmas when the Christians start worrying about Easter being named after the germanic goddess or spring, rebirth and renewal, Oestre…

December 16, 2009 at 10:48 am
(36) Liz says:

How interesting to see that this topic comes up again and again! And on this page alone, the comments go back to ’07… go figure.

Personally, I am not offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas” (maybe because I was raised Catholic?). I say it to my own family members and think that cashiers who use this when I shop are about as sincere as when they tell me to “have a nice day” the rest of the year.

I don’t know anyone non-Christian who is really offended by “Merry Christmas”, but I have heard some religious non-Christians express bemusement; they seem to think that we are clueless about other faiths. They didn’t seem offended though. They simply shrugged it off.

The main people I seem to hear complain are Christians who object to the greeting “Happy Holidays”. They want special recognition for Christmas and feel that the holiday greeting is “going to far” in its “political correctness”. What baffles me is why Christians who “want to put Christ back in Christmas” care about a tossed-off greeting by a cashier at their local strip mall. If you are an observant Christian, Christmas should be a holy day about meditating on the birth of your savior. (Granted, it is not the most important day: Easter is supposed to be the holiest day….) Why do Christians make Christmas all about shopping for the latest gift? Why do they care what their cashier says to them?

One of the odd aspects to me is to see nominal Christians (that is, they identify with Christianity, see themselves as Christian, yet they do not attend any services, read the Bible or participate in any other religious activity) get all bent out of shape and feel that the world is going to hell in a hand basket because some cashier at Best Buy said “Happy Holidays”. I’m sure many religious Christians feel this way, but I am thinking specifically of people who live their lives in secular ways and never actually do any religious activity. I think this worry embodies some broader, intangible fear that the world is not they way they would like.

I think many people – religious or not – enjoy the gift giving and parties of the end of the year, and retailers want to cash in on this consumer frenzy. So, to be welcoming to all, many (but not all!) have gone to “Happy Holidays”. This has freaked out many Christians who see this time of year as especially about them.

Anyway, personally, I prefer Happy Holidays to give as a general greeting for many reasons: (1) I don’t know what holidays the person I am greeting celebrates, if any; (2) I like to give a greeting for the whole season – including new year’s eve and day festivities. With friends and family, at Christmas celebrations, I use “Merry Christmas”.

December 16, 2009 at 11:08 am
(37) fauxrs says:

Offended, No of course not. Merry Christmas isnt an effort to proselytize, its not an affront to my beliefs (or lack thereof). Despite the etymology of the word to me it isnt any longer a statement that has any bearing on religion.

That is not to say the speaker in question doesnt view it as such, but it has no religious overtones to me. It is simply a statement of social grace and well wishes. I would have to be a real cold hearted bastard to be offended by it I think.

Yes many Xians view it as a religious holiday, but in truth I see far more displays of reindeer and snowmen than I do nativity scenes, in other words 10-20x more secular non-religious displays than religious.

So xians may feel free to wish me a merry x-mas and I will not be offended and I will happily return the sentiment.

Happy Christmahannahkwanzaa everyone.

December 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(38) Mathias says:

There’s no holiday greeting that offends me. If someone mentions “baby Jesus”, I’m starting to be annoyed, because that often is the beginning of a lecture.

When I respond or send greetings to someone, I usually say “happy holidays”, unless I know something about the person’s beliefs, in which case I tailor my greeting accordingly.

PS: What do you think about using CE (“common era”) instead of AD?

December 16, 2009 at 3:08 pm
(39) AtheistGeophysicistBob says:

Liz (36); fauxrs (37). I totally agree with both of you. I am not easily offended; just one of my many character flaws, I suppose.

December 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm
(40) Andrew says:

I’m not even remotely offended when someone says, “Merry Christmas.” I’ve even said it myself a few times.

December 17, 2009 at 8:44 am
(41) tracieh says:

>So I’m still trying to figure out who the people are that do respond in an offended manner when someone tells them “Merry Christmas.” I haven’t found out yet. I hope to, though.

In response to this, I can tell you. It’s a particular strain of Christian who asserts this. I have one in my family. Many people in my family are believers, but not all pricks. This one, however, blasts religious e-mails to everyone on their list–without a second thought to whether everyone will agree with them or not. Funny story about them is that they also used to e-mail another person I know, but they argued so vehemently so often that this other person was dropped from angry-Xian’s list.

Around the holidays, I begin to get the “take back Xmas” e-mails, from this one angry guy. A few years or so ago, I got one that told a story about a Macy’s employee in NY who was oppressed working at Macy’s–not allowed to wish the customers a Merry Xmas. A customer wishes them a Merry Xmas, and the employee, bravely and happily asserts back “Merry Xmas!” The point of the spam was to promote that Xians need to push the greeting Merry Xmas unapologetically and screw anyone who doesn’t like it. I found it so funny that such a hateful sentiment would be sent out in honor of the holiday most Xians celebrate as the birth of the bringer of peace and love to all mankind, that I forwarded it to the black-listed ex-recipient, expressing how hysterical it was to me.

I had forgotten that every year, this person I forwarded it to actually visits NY at Xmas. This was back when I don’t really remember any Macy’s stores all over the nation, like they are today. So, when someone said, “Macy’s”–it was understood they meant the main store in NY. This person e-mailed me back a funny, but emotional reply (more emotional than I expected), declaring that “Every year I go to NY for Xmas, and every year we visit the in-store Xmas display at Macy’s.” And he went on to describe the elaborate display and how it culminates in a huge throne with (in his words) “a big, fat, f*cking Santa sitting on it,” shouting for the whole store to hear, “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!” and the cherry on top was when he asserted that he doesn’t recall ever seeing an angry mob of NY Jews or anyone else mobbing Santa to shut him up.

That description has always made me laugh.

December 23, 2009 at 7:31 pm
(42) Puzzled in Peoria says:

I use Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas interchangeably, as Christmas (as are all holidays) is a secular holiday season to me. I don’t consider it to be a religious time of the year, and don’t make any special effort to tailor the greeting based on my perception of the other person’s beliefs. If someone greets me first, I tend to respond in kind.

Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year also. May all of you enjoy the season, and any religious and cultural observances you may follow.

December 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm
(43) Mike says:

I think the thought of being offended by something so small is ridiculous. Being offended is ultimately a choice. Yes something might annoy you, or you may disagree with something but you choose to get offended over it and speak out about it.

Regardless of what people say during the Holiday’s, it is just a kind expression to wish someone. I hate that everything is twisted into something negative. Just enjoy time however you wish and let other people enjoy it how they wish.

December 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm
(44) Denise says:

I found this post very interesting. We say Merry Christmas here at work, and I had a lady get upset with me for “assuming she was a Christian”. I am an Agnostic that was raised VERY religious, but I was always taught tolerance of religion. I could care less if you tell me Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukuh, or Happy Festivus. I’ll say thanks, and the same to you.

Also, with the exception of hypocritical, bible bashing, stick up their butts Christians, I don’t know any Christians who get mad if you tell them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. That’s just as idiotic as the non-Christians offended over Merry Christmas.

December 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm
(45) Me says:

If you’re offended by Merry Christmas …. Well I am offended by people who strap bombs to themselves kill innocent people. So I say Merry Christmas to all, as this term stand for peace, love and happyiness and most off all to be kind to everyone EVERY DAY of the Year. The more you’re offended by this. Well the louder I say it. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! And may Jesus and God bless all the non believers of this world.

December 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm
(46) Austin Cline says:

Well I am offended by people who strap bombs to themselves kill innocent people.

Are you offended by Christians who murder doctors?

December 29, 2010 at 10:20 am
(47) mike says:

If “Merry Christmas” stands for “peace, love and happyiness and most of all to be kind to everyone EVERY DAY of the year”, why are you using it to try to offend people? That’s not peace, love or kindness on any day of the year. It’s mean and spiteful.
Can you see the hypocricy in your post?

December 29, 2010 at 10:41 am
(48) Aquaria says:

The more you’re offended by this. Well the louder I say it. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! And may Jesus and God bless all the non believers of this world.

If you’re screaming at people, you’re going to look crazier than you apparently are already. You start screeching about your imaginary friends in public, I’m calling the cops on you for disturbing the peace. Got it?

Now we know why doctors tell people like this to take the clozapine before leaving the house.

December 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm
(49) Jeff says:

I understand Merry Christmas as a form of eponym- a trademark or brand name that has become the colloquial or generic description for or synonymous with a general class of product. In this instance, a holiday season where trees are trimmed, presents are given and alcohol is consumed. I’m not offended. Merry Christmas!

December 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm
(50) T Rose says:

Not the popular or PC comment here but I actually AM annoyed when people presume I’m Christian. I think it’s completely thought-less to say “Merry Christmas”. Since 20% of Americans are not Christian that means 1 in 5 people are not celebrating Christmas. It’s equally thought-less when people say “Happy Holidays” as there are no “holy days” I celebrate in December or any other month (no days are “holier” than others). The only thoughtful and appropriate thing to say is “Seasons Greetings”.

When people say “Merry Christmas” to me, I do not verbally respond to them at all. I simply smile slightly and nod to acknowledge that they’ve spoken to me. I don’t try to make waves. I know very well that most people don’t bother to think very much and suspect this world won’t change much before my time is up. I’m glad when December ends though as people’s thought-lessness isn’t as glaringly obvious on a daily basis.

December 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm
(51) Dean says:

Really, it isn’t us being offended by ‘Merry Christmas’, there may be a couple like that, but there are a LOT of Christianistas who get their panties in a wad if someone says ‘Happy Holidays’ to them instead of Merry Christmas. They’ll return a vicious-sounding ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS!!’ and talk about boycotting stores if the staff says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. How did WE wind up painted as the over-offended ones on this?

December 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm
(52) wwajdblogger says:

We should say “Merry Christmas” in America because there is “no doubt that America has a special relationship with God.” (Jordan Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice). It is no coincidence that every letter in the word “Christmas” is also found in “United States of America.” Except for “h”.

January 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm
(53) Atheist_Pilgrim says:

Surely if it WAS a coincidence that every letter in “Christmas” is also found in “United States of America”, except ‘h’, your country sholld be called the “Hunited States of America”, should it not?

Happy Holidays!

January 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm
(54) Richard says:

Pretty much everybody here (Puerto Rico) says “Felicidades” (a general well-wishing), so there’s not much occasion for offense.

January 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm
(55) Darlene says:

Personally, I start saying “Happy Holidays” to everyone just before Thanksgiving. Reason: it is the Holiday season and there is more than one holiday (in my mind at least) Xmas is just one of the many. Why do the fundies have to take everything so personally? Like many others have said here, I don’t care if someone wishes me Happy Hannukah or Happy Festivus, it’s the thought that counts. I like “Happy Holidays” I grew up saying it and I used it BEFORE it became ‘offensive’ to the Xians.

November 27, 2011 at 5:16 am
(56) Charlie says:

I think people should grow the heck up and stop worrying over the minutia of small talk. If someone wishes you Merry Christmas you should be happy they did, even if you don’t celebrate it they’re wishing good tidings on you. Its like `”Have a nice day, on Christmas day.”
I would rather someone say Merry Christmas to me than come and beat me up because I was a christian. Lets get with the real issues here, there are a lot bigger things we have to deal with regarding racism and offense, like oh I don’t know… genocides and slavery (which still happens in many places in the US by the way).

December 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm
(57) matt says:

If either happy holidays, or merry christmas offends you, you are way to sensitive, and sould just stay at home with your “mommie”

December 15, 2011 at 10:54 am
(58) john says:

So would it be offensive to a vegeterian to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving if they’re not going to partake in the celebration? Or a non-American for that matter?

I’m sure this has been said “…many times, many ways, Merry Christmas…” And if that offends you, how about I just with you a “Merry Go F&*% Yourself”. Is that better?

December 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm
(59) Austin Cline says:

So would it be offensive to a vegeterian to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving if they’re not going to partake in the celebration? Or a non-American for that matter?

Neither of those categories means that a person won’t partake.

I’m sure this has been said “…many times, many ways, Merry Christmas…” And if that offends you, how about I just with you a “Merry Go F&*% Yourself”. Is that better?

Yes, it is better because it’s more honest – it reveals what was always behind your original “merry” greeting but which you didn’t honestly express until you’re called on it.

December 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm
(60) Andy says:

Personally I take offense when some one deliberatly is talking about Christmas and still says Happy Holidays. It irritates me to no end when some one does that, when the holiday is souly Christian, and if your not Christian then dont celebrate in it at all, that even includes the commercial part of the holiday which is also christian, Santa/ St. Nick both are christian, the presents idea is christian, cndy canes are so christian they put the story on the back of candy cane boxes. People if you get offended by Merry Christmas, then you should be offended by Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Easter as well. So to all you haters of the phrase I say to you MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(61) Austin Cline says:

Personally I take offense when some one deliberatly is talking about Christmas and still says Happy Holidays.

So, you don’t celebrate any other days at this time of year – like New Year’s?

It irritates me to no end when some one does that, when the holiday is souly Christian,

No, it’s not.

and if your not Christian then dont celebrate in it at all,

If your [sic] not pagan, then don’t celebrate in [sic] it at all.

that even includes the commercial part of the holiday which is also christian,

Because Christianity is defined in party by rampant commercialism, right?

Santa/ St. Nick both are christian,

Derived from pagan figures.

the presents idea is christian,

Because non-Christians never give gifts to each other.

cndy canes are so christian they put the story on the back of candy cane boxes.

Look up the term “post hoc rationalization”.

People if you get offended by Merry Christmas, then you should be offended by Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Easter as well.


So to all you haters of the phrase I say to you MERRY CHRISTMAS

Thank you for demonstrating that the entire breadth and depth of your holiday joy is to find ways to insult others. I’m not personally offended by the phrase, but when a person like you deliberately and gleefully uses it as a weapon then I have to suggest they seek psychological counseling.

November 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm
(62) Dustin says:

I am a Christian and just like you guys or women I believe in tolerance, just like we should be respectful to those who choose not to celebrate, those who choose not to celebrate should be respectful those who choose to celebrate not saying that you have to be “jolly ” but just give a smile or some sort of general response that isn’t vulgar. I personally don’t have any problems with anyone who is an atheist or have different beliefs than I do.It’s what you choose to believe or not to believe and you have that right.

December 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm
(63) Dean J. Smith says:

I hope you’re a harbinger of enroaching sanity, Dustin. :)

December 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm
(64) Diaz says:

I’m not offended by any religion specific seasonal greeting, and I’m confused by the freak-outs I’ve witnessed when (specifically) Christians hear “Happy Holidays”, really.

Do they not realise that the word ‘holiday’ is a corruption of the phrase ‘holy day’? When I say “Happy Holidays”, not only am I recognising the calendar event in my own secular and inclusive way, I’m specifically noting that it’s a holy day for theists of all sorts. Which leads me to believe that Christians are just angry that I’m not exclusively acknowledging THEIR claim on the winter festivities, and I honestly can’t be bothered with that sort of childish, greedy, selfish nonsense.

December 17, 2012 at 11:34 am
(65) Wayne says:

I think being offended by words is part of life in America. We live in a free country where freedom of speech is part of our everyday life. If a person is offended by another expressing their Constitutional freedom then they should realize that it is just part of being an American. The very reason our fore fathers gave us freedom of speech was to freely allow the spread of the Christian religion. It was so that as many as possible could hear the good news about Jesus, that he died for their sins, arose on the third day, and it was witnessed by more than 500 people. Believing Jesus was the Son of God.and being baptized for forgivenees of your sins allows anyone to be saved so that anyone can go to heaven rather than hell when they die. It really is good news not something a person would want to stiffle unless of course they want some company in hell. It is ironic that the people who most hate the Christian message are the very ones that need to hear it the most. It is very similar to fat people hating excercise, lazy people hating work, criminals hating laws, and an atheist hating “Merry Christmas”.

December 18, 2012 at 11:52 am
(66) Leonard says:

I’ve never been offended by “Merry Christmas” and assume those who are to have let ideology get in the way of pleasant human interaction.

December 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm
(67) Austin Cline says:

I’ve never been offended by “Merry Christmas” and assume those who are to have let ideology get in the way of pleasant human interaction.

So, you think it’s legitimate to make unwarranted assumptions about people you don’t know – that if you don’t have a problem with something, then it’s impossible that anyone else could have a legitimate complaint.

Funny, but the problem many have with the greeting has to do with the way it’s based on making unwarranted assumptions. No wonder you don’t have a problem with it.

December 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(68) Gerald Vanderhoff says:

If I am the first to extend the greeting, I say, “Happy holidays,” unless I know for a fact which holiday the other celebrates, in which case I will extend the appropriate greeting. If the other person extends the greeting first, I thank that person and return the greeting in kind. This used to be called common courtesy, until the day Fox News started broadcasting.

December 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm
(69) Dave says:

I return :merry xmas when its offered,I usually feel pity for that individual that offered it.But coming from a large family of “chirsitians” found its better to slide on by,let ‘em have their fantasies

December 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm
(70) judy bess says:

I have 4 cats, and we celebrate cat-mas with lots of catnip. Meowy Catmas/

December 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm
(71) Marvin says:

(8) On December 24, 2007, John Hanks said:
There is no reason to be offended by small talk.

You made an excellent point, John. Sometime in the seventies I began hearing store clerks say “have a nice day” rather than something more conventional like “goodbye” or “thank you for shopping at . . .” For some reason many people insisted on being offended by it. For someone to find offense in any kind of idly made good wish is pettyness, possibly the worst form of pettiness.

Despite the many stories I’ve heard about people taking offense over either “happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” I can remember only one confrontation. A man wished “happy holidays” to a group of other men, all of whom were at least acquainted with each other if not close friends. Most returned the wish with either the same words or “Merry Christmas,” but one became irate and insisted, “We’re Americans!” I don’t remember the rest of his tirade, but any thought of goodwill toward men was pretty well lost.

December 24, 2012 at 2:31 am
(72) jack says:

If Merry Christmas offend people, gay flag offends me!

December 18, 2013 at 11:47 am
(73) Dean J. Smith says:

I take all holiday greetings in the spirit in which they are offered. I wouldn’t be offended by ‘Merry Christmas’ unless the wisher was saying it in a hostile fashion. There’s enough offense to go around without looking for it.

Too bad the person who punched an Arizona Salvation Army bell ringer in the arm for saying ‘Happy Holidays!’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ and lectured her on why she should say Merry Christmas didn’t take all holiday greetings in the spirit in which they’re offered.

Again, I wonder how this got turned back on us as being the offended ones when the whole Happy Holiday thing is a Christianist complaint that not everyone is saying Merry Chrismas exclusively.

December 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm
(74) Peartree says:

“Merry Christmas” is always inappropriate for a greeting unless it is Dec 25., and the excuse that is “Christmas Season” is invalid because no such thing exists. You might as well say “Merry Christmas” every day.

“Happy Holidays” is always appropriate, which infers that I don’t know your religion but wish you well, but ” Merry Christmas” infers that holiday is the only important one.

I prefer “Happy Pastafarian Day” (See Flying Spaghetti Monster). It is more fun, and don’t have to moan over someone being killed.

December 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm
(75) JTL says:

Even though I’m a card-carrying atheist, I came from a very Catholic background. So I guess you could say that I’m “culturally” Catholic in that Christmas is still a holiday for me. Growing up, Christmas was all about fun, food and family. Sure, we “had” to go to Midnight Mass, but once that was over, it was time for the presents and the eggnog. As a boy in the 1960′s, the Christianity part of it was not really emphasized. It was all about fun. Christmas has been somewhat ruined for me as an adult living in a post-Bush USA, where illegal faith-based initiatives and other social engineering programs have created an entire class of fundamentalist Christian maniacs. For people who claim to be going to Heaven when they die, they sure seem unhappy to me.

December 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm
(76) Lee says:

Yes, I am offended when a stranger says Merry X-Mas to me…not by the words but because I think it is rude to assume everyone is a frickin’ Christian. Whether we admit it or not, Christmas is a religious holiday; of course you can choose to celebrate it anyway you want (or not at all). But there is no escaping that is how history sees it. And that is how Christians see it too. I am an atheist witch and I celebrate Yule & the New Year. I feel that a greeting of Happy Holidays includes everyone. I find it interesting that many Christians refuse to say Happy Halloween, but if I don’t find joy in wishing others a Merry X-Mas, they will show their disapproval in no uncertain terms.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.