The War on Christmas: Battle of the Holiday Greetings

I love Christmas. Out of all the holidays of the year, I’d say it’s my favorite of them all. There’s something about the feel of the season that I can’t quite find words for that make the season simply magical to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the childlike anticipation of Christmas morning, the beautiful decorations, smells and tastes of the season, but whatever it is – it’s a beautiful thing. The beauty of the season is evidenced by the displays of lights, trees and various decorations that are on display everywhere in anticipation of the big day. Even more importantly, for me anyway, is the fact that this is the time those of us who are Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child in the manger.

Lately however, my facebook newsfeed has been all aflutter with news of a war on Christmas. Say what??? How could anyone want to declare war on the most wonderful time of the year? Well, dear friends, it seems there has been a movement of some kind claiming that wishing someone “happy holidays” or “merry Xmas” or other such blasphemy is an attempt by some evil force to vanquish the baby Jesus to some orphanage in Romania where they beat children everyday, never to be heard from again. Evidently, this war has been raging for some years now, but since I never watch the news unless I’m on it (which rarely, if ever, happens), I’m a little late in hearing about it.

To hear someone who believes Christmas is being attacked explain it, this movement is so evil that it makes the Grinch look like the Virgin Mary. When asked, they tell me that people are being forced to say “happy holidays” in order not to offend anyone with such vulgarities as the word Christmas, and writing “Xmas” so they wouldn’t offend anyone with the word Christmas, because, after all, they are “X-ing out Christ from the season.”

Well, after staring at the person who explained this to me with my mouth open in disbelief for at least ten minutes, I got to thinking about all this “war on Christmas” mumbo-jumbo. I asked them what, if anything, one was supposed to do when attacked by someone who was evil enough to wish you a happy holiday. Their response was, without taking a second to consider the irony in my question, “You tell them it’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!”

I don’t know about you, dear friends, but it’s hard for me to see this as an attack on Christmas, or my beliefs. Maybe it’s just my upbringing, but to me, “happy holidays” doesn’t seem like an attack at all, but a simple wish of good cheer. After all, there’s more than just Christmas at this time of year. Don’t forget that there’s also New Years, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Epiphany, as well as other holidays in there during this season. To me, saying “happy holidays” is just a form of wishing another person a joyous whatever-you’re-celebrating type of greeting in an attempt to be polite. In which case, I firmly believe you should respond with a simple “thank you, and a merry/happy [insert polite greeting here] to you as well” without getting your undies all in a twist about someone being friendly.




The other big affront to those who believe in this war on Christmas is the issue of people writing “Xmas” instead of spelling out “Christmas.” I honestly had someone tell me “they do this ’cause they want to X out Christ from Christmas.” Seriously? I was so appalled at this level of ignorance that I rolled my eyes so hard my head hurt. I tried to explain to them that wasn’t the case, and that the “X” was originally the Greek letter “Chi,” which looks like the English letter “X,” and that it was the written symbol used for Christ waaaayyyy back in the day, so actually, it was technically still keeping “Christ” in Christmas. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to hear any of my explanation, and continued to believe in their erroneous ideology. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

The whole “keep Christ in Christmas,” and the “Jesus is the reason for the season” campaigns are nice enough ideas, but let’s not forget that, historically, most of the Christmas celebrations we know today were around before Christmas started being celebrated as the birth of Christ. The early Christians didn’t even celebrate Christs birth until around the year 388 when John Chrysostom decided it would be a lot of fun to throw Jesus a birthday bash and, since everyone was in a good mood to party anyway, why not have it around the Saturnalia/Winter Solstice celebrations around December 25th? It caught on, and everyone’s been celebrating since then.

So it seems a bit odd to me to hear people say there’s a war on Christmas simply because people celebrate the season a little differently than someone else. Sure, there might be controversies about nativity scenes being erected at courthouses and various other places, but let’s keep in mind that these aren’t religious institutions, so to cater to one religion over another in a public place is inviting controversy that’s simply unwarranted. Feel free, however, to put a nativity scene in your own yard. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.

Next time you’re out and about and someone wishes you a “happy holidays,” be polite. In a warm, thankful tone, say “thank you, and to you as well.” At least they took the time to greet you and pass along their wishes for you to have a nice holiday season, regardless of what you’re celebrating.

Or, you can forget everything I’ve said and cause a scene, screaming at the top of your lungs, “It’s not happy holidays, you heathen, it’s Merry Christmas!” and beat them over the head with a giant candy cane. I’m sure Jesus would be soooooo proud.


43 thoughts on “The War on Christmas: Battle of the Holiday Greetings

  1. I am thrilled to read a post like this from someone who is a Christian and who recognizes that those of us who are not Christian, either because we are members of another religion or, who, like me, are atheists, are not declaring a war on anyone or being disrespectful to anyone’s beliefs. We are merely trying to be inclusive by wishing people “happy holidays,” or “season’s greetings,” a wish of good will that can apply to everyone, regardless of religion or beliefs. I’m encouraged that there are rational minds like yours that call bullsh*t on those who shout about this so called “War on Christmas. Thank you. With your permission, I’d like to reblog this post on my blog.

    1. Glenn mentioned that Christians did not celebrate Christmas till 388 AD. December 25th is not mentioned in the Bible. If it were, the date would, probably, be mentioned according to the Jewish lunar calendar and would be floating in Gregorian calendar, like the date of the Easter. I’ve heard that late December was picked to distract pagans from celebrating Solstice and other holidays and channel them into the “right” kind of celebration. The Christmas tree is also a pagan tradition and was used so that the pagans would feel more comfortable with the new holiday. If this is correct (which seems so), then it appears to me that Christmas was conceived as a “war on pagan holidays”, not the other way around.

  2. Reblogged this on Mindful Digressions and commented:
    I have to admit that I’ve been hard on Christian bloggers – not bloggers who are Christian, there is a difference – about how they frequently characterize atheists as mean, nasty, immoral, and cruel. I’ve also ranted multiple times (nearly every year around this time, as a matter of fact, about this whole trumped up “War on Christmas.”

    But then I saw a post at Glenn Davis’ blog. He’s a blogger, who is also Christian, but who has a refreshing attitude about those who insist that the only acceptable greeting at this time of year is “Merry Christmas.”

    I’m encouraged that there are rational Christians like Glenn who are willing to call bullshit on those who shout about this so called “War on Christmas.” With his permission, I have reblogged his post here.

  3. Pingback: The War on Christmas: Battle of the Holiday Greetings | Mindful Digressions

  4. A wonderfully balanced and reasoned perspective Glenn. As with Doobster (above), I too am not a Christian, yet have respect for those with faith, and perhaps a little less for those with certainty of belief. It is the latter, I think, who feel more insecure in their religious engagements and hence incline to the defensive. Goodwill is goodwill from whatever quarter, and may I take this opportunity of wishing you the same at this time – which is Christmas! Or is it Chrysostomas?

    With gratitude and respect.


    1. Yes. The date is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and researchers have an opinion that the census would be unlikely to be held in Dinecember, when it is cold and the roads are not in the best condition.

  5. I’ve written about this a whole bunch of times too. The problem is, we are preaching to the choir. The people who are convinced they and Christmas are under attack, are not going to have their minds changed by reason. Do not confuse them with facts: their minds are made up.

  6. Wonderful post! I am a Christian who actually does not celebrate in the traditional manner; my lifestyle is more inclined toward the manger in a stable than a glittery castle, anyway. But if someone, friend or stranger, is so kind as to wish me a happy season’s greeting, I receive it with gratitude. And return the greeting with sincerity. It serves no purpose to fight over such nonsense, and sure isn’t going to make the season happy or Christmas merry.

  7. Y’know… This isn’t something I was aware existed until I started hanging around Americans online. In my 25 years of existence living in Brazil I never saw anyone here complain about how they are greeted over the Holidays. And I’ve met people from all different religions and of no religion (such as myself). Whether people get Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays 99% of the time (I’m assuming it must happen sometimes) the response is the same.

    Plus I celebrate Christmas, and I wish people a Merry Christmas without a second thought. Never occurred to me to do or say otherwise just because I’m not a Christian. ^^”

    1. Thanks for your comment, Blackbird. Unless I’m wrong, this whole “war on Christmas” thing is a mindset held mainly by conservative Americans… which should underscore how much of a farce it really is.

  8. I grew up in a Christian home (my father was a Baptist preacher) but currently I am probably closer to Paganism than anything else. Ironically, Christmas, and most other “Christian Holidays” were established at the same time of year as Pagan Sabbats. The reason was an attempt to ease the transition from Paganism to Christianity at the time when Christians were trying to conquer the area of the world occupied by Pagans. I also don’t understand why this is referred to as the “Holiday Season.” With the exception of August there is at least one holiday in every month of the year. So, happy holiday to you, all year long.

    1. Very true. It’s amazing to me how people forget the origins of holidays (or in many cases, never knew the origins to begin with) and form opinions on misinformation. On a side note, I was Baptist my entire life until joining the Episcopal church about five years ago.

  9. I always thought the “X” in Xmas stood for the cross, and was just another way to symbolize Christ. (You learn something new every year.) And thanks for this well written, well thought out post. And may ALL your holidays be pleasant!

  10. Well said! I’ve never understood the idea of a “War on Christmas” just because you are respectful and say happy holidays, and ask that the Constitution be upheld on government property. Clueless… To me, the bigger war is far more sinister. It’s the way the celebration of Christmas has been turned into a “for profit” enterprise. THAT is the real war on Christmas and totally undermines the true message of Christ.

  11. Well Glen I like your whole ideal of your blog about greeting for the holidays Christmas. It is well written and I have enjoyed it a lot. Here’s is wishing you a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. Take care my friend and have a safe one too.

  12. Asariels Muse

    Nicely written. It they want to nit pick then it should be something more along the lines of Happy Birthday and the gifts should be for the ummm birthday boy, right?

      1. Asariels Muse

        We decorate our large formal dining room for a birthday party every year and we don’t do gifts to one another but gifts to charities etc. We have no small children and we all have too much “stuff”. All season long people who visit will exclaim over the decorations Oh Wow, whose birthday is it?

  13. well I cam here from Doobster’s blog and I can see why he liked your post, and Glenn – I fully agree that happy holidays is really more fitting for this time of year.

    also, I like how you gently explain it (even though back in 1992 I feel I read the same exact thing about the X and I was then handed a bumper sticker saying the “reason for the season…” )

    – but you have such a wonderful way of noting that Christians should chill out – or as you say-
    “someone wishes you a “happy holidays,” be polite. In a warm, thankful tone, say “thank you, and to you as well.”

    But for me (and especially my husband who is a strong on fir Believer) well this is not even close to being a favorite holiday. It is warm wight he lights and coming together (as you note) and it is nice chaos we can help people who are in misery (cos let’s be honest – stress is at all time high with this holiday – big time). Also, the way that we emphasize the baby part of this (well it misses the other part – the resurrection and gift of the holy Spirit). then if we want to get technical – well most manger sciences depicted are inaccurate. Christ was born in more of cliff hole kinda stable – and he was likely almost 2 years old and running around when the wise men staggered their visits – and there were likely more than a dozen wise men (but they brought 3 main types of gifts).

    here is what I shared on Doobster’s blog – and I wanted to share here just to offer others (who choose to read) one more view to think about:

    “did you know there are many Christians who do not even celebrate Christmas anymore. They have a few reasons, and part of it is because of the way this holiday has become a big partying lavish time of gluttony – and where expectations are all over the place and where more people have stress that is just robbing them of so much. but some Americans also have this with how they spend their vacation time (have to go all out and spend thousands and see wonders or it is not that good of a vacation – but then they come back needing rest etc.) and then some Christians say that not only was Christ born in Dec = but the crux of our faith is not because he was “born” bout it is because he died and rose again – and so there is a whole group of believers who just see Easter as being the day to celebrate this gift from God (what we view as gift from God) and then I know others who thing the day of pentacost (7 weeks after the res) is the really bad man pajama day to hold and celebrate – because that is when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the first followers- and that same Holy Spirit is the true gift! cos we now have a counselor and comforter and that is how the Lord is with us always – through His Holy Spirit we are never alone.

    and for me – I am not a scrooge – but when it comes to this crazy holiday of Christmas – I could take it or leave it. I like it because of the lights and the warmth and looking forward to celebrating time with family- and the time to check in with distant friends through letters. But to me – it is not even about celebrating Christ – cos I do that every day when I pray in His name and when I live for Him (because I know that the only reason I have been left on this planet is to be his ambassador for Christ and to live and mingle and love those he puts in my oath – and to just enjoy the gift of life in ways that he leads me to live).”

    take care Glenn – looks like you have a great blog – and happy holidays . 🙂

  14. Also landed here via Doobster. Raised a liberal/Reform Jew, in the past when wished a Merry Xmas I usually responded Happy Hanukkah. I now live in Oak Ridge, TN, where the one Jewish congregation is Conservative and therefore uses less English in their services. Since not understanding what was being said made me uncomfortable, I gravitated to the larger Unitarian congregation in town. I have found them to be welcoming and generous to all at all times during the year. Concurrently, I have also taken some classes re Christian history which I have found to be very enlightening. Personally, I always felt that Hanukkah was played up in this country so that little Jewish kids wouldn’t feel left out while their Christian friends were being showered with gifts. I know there are also historical reasons for Hanukkah gifting but at the same time it is a lesser holiday among observant Jews and is in fact not one that is widely observed in Israel.

  15. rudyhou

    yeah. i’ve read a bit on that little commotion about merry christmas vs. happy holidays thing online. i think they just taking the whole thing out of context. i’m not a christian and i know many people aren’t either. i think it would be a bad taste if i say ‘merry christmas’ to someone who may not be a christian. kinda like forcing a christian belief onto them. so i always say ‘happy holidays’ to strangers just to be polite, as it is a holiday season, though i may not celebrate christmas myself.

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