Yes, I Said Happy Holidays. You Should, Too

Why That is The Best – Most American – of Seasonal Greetings


The War That Never Was

We generally recognize by now that there is an unholy coalition of politicized evangelicals, talk radio/social media and FFN (Fox Fake News – my new moniker for them) that thrive on whipping up their audience into a state of anger and victimhood.

Several years ago, this bunch came upon the Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas greeting and they struck gold. It whipped up a might froth among their masses and so, every year we hear again and again that saying Happy Holidays is a wrongful attack on Christianity, an effort to deny the role of the leading religion in America. You know, “It’s denying the reason for the season.” This is, of course, absolute nonsense.

 Why Happy Holidays Really is The Best Greeting of All

 Let me be clear early in this article that I think it is perfectly fine for each of us to offer whatever seasonal greeting feels best to the person offering the greeting. I only ask that in making your choice, you extend the same common sense and decent choice to others. Does not seem too much to ask.

It may be shocking to some, but this is a large and diverse country. While Christianity is by far the largest religious denomination in this country, it certainly is not the only one. We have many, many Jews, Muslims, Rastapharians, Humanists, Buddhists, Sikhs, and many, many other such groups.

As it turns out, this time of year is a big one for religious and cultural in origin holidays or commemorations. The best estimates I have seen indicate something between 17-25 such occasions in the November – January time frame.

To expect someone from these other groups to respond in kind to your Merry Christmas is small minded and unkind. We should each offer the greeting we choose and welcome the response chosen by the other person. To expect otherwise would be forcing them to adhere, in a very artificial way, to your choice of religion.

That sounds about as Un-American an expectation as I can imagine. I have zero doubt that our founders would find such an expectation unreasonable and contrary to all they said and wrote about religion in the life of this country.

Someone apparently forgot to advise Michael Flynn that in fact we do not need one religion. This is the United States of America. We don’t do that sort of thing here. Perhaps he would be happier living somewhere else that did that sort of mandating. Saudi Arabia, perhaps? Vatican City? Here, let me help you pack, Mike.

Happy Holidays is the perfect way to express joy and hopes for all, irrespective of their belief system. Whatever they choose to say in response if fine by me. I am far more interested in the sentiment than the text.

 Think About This from Another Perspective and You Can Understand

 Those of us in the majority need only think about this in the other person’s world to understand why this is such a non-issue to fight over. Imagine you woke up tomorrow and found that a new president had been sworn in, and she happens to be worshipper of the Viking god Oden. A decree has gone out to the effect that henceforth, the only proper seasonal greeting in America shall be “Hail, Oden. Death to all nonbelievers!”

You would not think much of that, would you? You don’t believe in Oden (I am guessing here) and feel coerced to say something you do not believe in. Insisting on “Merry Christmas” is the same sort of forced allegiance. Let it go.


I have been called a lot of things in my life (mostly accurately), but religious scholar is not one of them. Still, to that often-cited question of What would Jesus do?, I have to think that he would be somewhere between bemused and angry, and certainly disappointed that some of this erstwhile followers have chosen to make marking the occasion of his birth into fighting words.

We are better than that. At least we should be. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Bill Clontz

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