Why I Refuse To Say “Merry Christmas”

…to people I don’t know: Because I have no idea if they are Christian or not. After all, I’m Wiccan and have been for over a decade, and I have had friends who were Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and atheist. They never celebrated Christmas, and neither do I. So, when I’m dealing with customers or the general public, I will automatically say “Happy Holidays” rather than reverting to the not-all-that-inclusive greeting of “Merry Christmas”. Usually this works out pretty damn well.

Unfortunately, there is always that one person who takes offense with this completely inoffensive salutation. They will scowl, tsk at you, shake their head, and shrilly cry out “But it’s CHRISTMASTIME! STOP BEING SO PC!” Better yet is when they lean forward and stage whisper “It’s okay…I won’t tell your boss if you say Merry Christmas instead.” Most of the time, I just smile and let them know it is my choice to wish them a happy holiday, especially if they are a customer.

But sometimes? Well, sometimes you have to gently remind people that not everyone is a Christian like them. A good example is a man I was behind at the bank today. The teller wished him “Happy Holidays”, to which he laughed and told her** that he doesn’t believe in all this politically correct crap, and wished everyone would just get over themselves with minority religions. In his view, all Americans should celebrate Christmas and if they don’t? Oh well, their loss, don’t cater to them.

At this point, he walked by me to leave, and I stuck out my hand for him to shake. As we do so, I smile nicely and say “You’re right. We should stop caring about what religion someone else practices. Which is why I’ll now wish you a happy Yule, since that’s what *I* celebrate. Who cares what Christians think, right? Don’t have to cater to the majority either!”

He stopped shaking my hand, gave me a look of utter confusion, and walked away. The teller laughed, and thanked me for standing up for other religions…it seems she is Jewish, and people give her a lot of grief for her feeling more comfortable saying “happy holidays” as well. I wasn’t surprised, honestly.

Thus, I hope that my readers all enjoy their day tomorrow, regardless of what spiritual path they follow (if any). Me? I’m going to be lighting incense, praying to the Lady and Lord, writing up my new year’s resolutions, then visiting my mother and siblings for our Yule supper and gift giving.

Happy Holidays, all!

Edited to add:
It seems from the comments and an email I received that many readers are completely missing the point of this post. It’s not to tell people to be PC, it’s not to say I’m utterly against a Christian saying “merry christmas”, and it’s not meant to be coming down on people of the Christian faith. After all, most of my friends are Christians of one type or another.

The point of this post was to highlight the fact that quite a few Christians are anti-inclusive, to the point where they insist that people of ALL faiths and belief systems say “merry christmas”…even when they don’t celebrate it, or it makes them uncomfortable to say it.

You can be proud of your religion and it’s rituals/mythology without stomping on or outright condemning/denying someone else’s. I don’t get upset when others say “merry christmas” instead of “happy holidays”…I get upset when others yell and screech at people who prefer to NOT say “merry christmas”. In other words, I am against religious privilege and intolerance, not Christianity as a whole.

**What his actual words were:
“Ma’am, America is a Christian nation. Maybe no one taught you this, but we say “merry christmas” here, not any of that politically correct bullshit to make immigrants feel better.”


19 thoughts on “Why I Refuse To Say “Merry Christmas”

  1. That’s the burden of language. We can dissect each word and quantify them away from context. It was better when we grunted out our feelings and had to pay much closer attention to tone and placement. The touch of a well timed hand in a well located place would reinforce its meaning. -A

  2. Bah as far as I’m concerned (and most other people if you look at behaviors) Christmas isn’t a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. Christmas is a secular holiday celebrating consumerism and a fat man in a red suit breaking world records for B&E’s every December 25.

    So Merry Christmas, and I hope the magical fat man intent on breaking into your home this year leaves lots of goodies.

  3. @Emma

    I didn’t myself until about 6 years ago, when I had decided to wear a cheerful button saying “Happy Yule” with a tiny evergreen tree and pentacle on it…The Pagan supply store near my town was giving them away, and I thought they were very festive. I wore one the entire month of December, and only said Happy Yule to people. You’d have thought I was actually saying that I was going to eat their children, the negative reaction was so strong in some!

    I mentioned it to an atheist coworker, and she said that it was very typical behavior for our area. Ever since then, I’ve paid close attention to what people say about the holidays…and how they act.

  4. @Angelwanderer

    I agree. Sometimes I find it more difficult to understand humans than other animals. While the latter can and do “lie”, it occurs far less frequently.

  5. @GNL

    I wish that was the case where I live! I’m surrounded by various churches, both Catholic and Protestant, and the weeks preceding Christmas aren’t secular for most of my neighbors at all. One of the local pastors even told his flock to boycott shops that “don’t keep Christ in Christmas” aka have banners in their windows saying “Xmas”. *sigh*

    I’d prefer if, instead of having Santa Claus, we still had stories about Sinnterklaus and the Krampus like I did as a youngling at my oma’s knee. πŸ™‚

  6. I’m not Christian, but I do feel that the PC police have gone too far. Christmas is a federal holiday, so I don’t understand why people get so upset if someone says “Merry Christmas!” It’s what the day is called. All the festivities in December are rooted in Christmas – not these other fake “holidays” such as Yule & Kwanzaa. These other holidays are obviously trying to capitalize on the Christmas season – else why would they take place in December? Why don’t they take place in say, June?

  7. I can’t speak for Kwanzaa, but Yule takes place in December for the same reason that Samhain (aka Halloween) takes place in October and Beltane (aka May Day) takes place in May…because that is when these festivals/celebrations are traditionally held. There are other Pagan holidays that take place in the spring and summer months as well, like Imbolg (aka Candlemas) in February, Ostara (aka Easter) in March, and Litha (aka Midsummer Day) in June.

    It’s very strange to assume that a religion such as Paganism only has a holiday in December…I don’t know of *any* religions that have only a single spiritual celebration or event. Human spirituality occurs throughout the year…why would you only acknowledge it once?

    Are you also of the opinion that Chanukah is a fake “holiday” just because it usually takes place in December as well? If so, perhaps you should realize that just because something isn’t Christian, doesn’t mean it’s “fake”. After all, it’s hardly the oldest belief system…Hinduism has it utterly beat, as does Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and most Shamanistic religions. They are just as valid as anything practiced by modern day Christians.

  8. Also, Chris…I don’t think anyone should get upset about being greeted with “merry christmas”. I think it’s stupid for people to get upset when someone who *doesn’t* celebrate Christmas replies with a different greeting. It’s just a case of Christian privilege, that’s all.

  9. Although I side with M3 here, neither was Christianity guiltless of “co-opting” its predecessors’ holidays, holy places nor myths. A common motif – deities of yesterday become demons of today, then “fairies” of tomorrow. A minority which escaped this treatment merges with stories of saints or simply becomes forgotten.

  10. Oh, I don’t know. To some it is certainly about “gimme gimme” feelings, but for others it is a time of family, friends, and spiritual reflection. For example, during my Yule prayers on the 25th, I meditated on the past year, how I could better help my friends, how I could reconnect with some of my family members, and just generally making peace with where I am in my life right now.

    I think it only becomes a consumer holiday if you let it… πŸ™‚

  11. That’s fine. The two Muslim families I know say “happy holidays”, but I have no doubt that others say “merry christmas”. Besides, people are free to say whatever they want! πŸ™‚

  12. You know, I remember way back in the day when Saturnalia was all about drinking until dawn and three-day-long orgies. Now it’s all praying this and Jesus that… bunch of Johnny-come-latelies.

    Some folks just have no respect for tradition.


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