Merry Secularmas, Then?

This weekend, while watching the “War on Christmas” fights going back and forth on Facebook, I decided to research a specific line that I remembered using as a tagline …sometime awhile back. I couldn’t remember when, so I looked for it — and was quite amused to find that it had been 10 years ago exactly.

The line: “Why is it that anyone thinks they’re entitled to go through life without ever being offended?”

The story so tagged told of a boneheaded attempt to not “offend” anyone by using the word “Christmas.” I made a graphic of the quote and threw it up on Facebook; it’s below.

Anyone who is offended by someone wishing them a “Merry Christmas” needs to chill — just like anyone offended by wishes of “Happy Hanukkah” or “Fabulous Festivus” or whatever.

And certainly no one should be offended by “Happy Holidays” as somehow being “anti-religious” since surely everyone knows what the origin of the word “holiday” is, right? Right?!?

Complaining About Politeness

All of these wishes are someone saying something nice, so for someone to take offense and insist they “should” say something different is just being a jerk. Right? Right.

Seriously: does anyone have a non-obliviotic argument to the contrary? Feel free to comment below.

The posted graphic.

Maybe I hang around cooler people than those I see on Facebook who are all up in arms because someone “dissed their religion” by wishing them Happy Holidays (aka, “happy holy day”).

Saturday night I was wished Happy Solstice. Thank you! I’ve been wished Happy Hanukkah (thanks!), Merry Christmas (you too!), Merry Secularmas (heh! Thanks!), and more.

Why should I be offended by someone being polite? Why would you?

I’ll go so far as to say those who choose to be offended by others being polite have a problem, not the people doing the greeting. The world would be a better place if we chose to appreciate differences, rather than be offended by them. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

Then I punctuated my position on Facebook by posting a link to last year’s provocation, where I argued in my blog that we should Keep the X in Xmas. No death threats have been received yet, but sure enough, someone unsubscribed from True in protest: “I have grown tired of your blatant anti Christian views.” Funny, but that person knows so little about their own religion that they don’t grasp that’s actually a pro-Christian view!

So Happy Holidays to you all — no matter what holiday you celebrate. And if it’s “none of the above” then, well, Merry Secularmas! If you can’t hack that, then have a great day off, OK?

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52 Comments on “Merry Secularmas, Then?

  1. I really don’t care what people say to me as an atheist. I do have a coworker that I call the “Angry Christian” because he is upset that a) non-Christians get Christmas off b) not everyone says “Merry Christmas” c) Christians are persecuted in North America for their beliefs.

    I alternate between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Solstice” with him…

    Have a great Christmas everyone!

    I approve of your alternation. May he someday understand true persecution. -rc

  2. The other day, I got several news alerts about some obliviot climbing atop the “holiday tree” on the New Haven town green. Yes, that man is an obliviot, but so are the authorities who decided to call it a “holiday tree.” Yes, there are other holiday symbols for this season, but none of them are trees. No other winter holiday has a tree symbol, so why can’t we just call it a Christmas tree?

    I’m Jewish, and I’m not in the least bit offended by calling it a Christmas tree. Not only that, if the PC police forced me to call the Chanukkiyah (Hebrew and more technically correct name for a Chanukah menorah) a “Holidayyah” because I can’t say “Channukah” I WOULD be offended. Why can’t I name my religious holidays? Of course, I’m a minority in terms of religion, so the PC police will never go after me. But in my opinion, not only is there nothing offensive about calling it a “Christmas tree” but it IS offensive to Christians to cut out the “Christmas” part and call it a “holiday tree.”

    Of course, I’m not going to stoop to the level of the PC police and force people to call it a “Christmas tree” since “holiday tree” offends a group I’m not even a member of. At the same time, I don’t think it’s the people calling it a Christmas tree who are the offensive ones….

    Right. When I see a group say “Don’t call it Christmas — it might offend Muslims” (for instance), you know who I see complain even more than Christians? Yep: Muslims. For the same reason you find it ridiculous. -rc

  3. I have gotten to the point where I am ready to administer some “Season’s Beatings” if this controversy just doesn’t die an agonizing natural death already!

    There are too many panties in bunches.

  4. I always find it a compliment no matter which holiday I am being wished a joyous one of. The person is saying that you should have the best possible day(s) of the most important day(s) in their calendar. We need to stop thinking about the words themselves but instead think about the purpose those words were meant to have. So from this pagan to all of the True readers: Have a Blessed Yule! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Merry Secularmas 😉 And all the rest I am forgetting, in other words HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

  5. A bit repetitive, I suppose — but I am also an atheist who is just happy when anyone gives me a friendly greeting, whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever.

    I use the “Happy Holidays” so as to not assume what anyone else is celebrating this time of year, but I don’t care what people say back to me. I’m just thrilled we have a time of year that (mostly) celebrates good feelings toward all and toward all a good night.

  6. I had an interesting discussion on this very subject with someone the other day. I told them, “Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the gift giving is a recognition of the gift God gave the people of Earth by giving his son. If you don’t like or believe in that and don’t want it celebrated as such, then you should petition the government to totally cancel the holiday and tell the stores NOT to promote the sale of gifts at this time of the year.” They didn’t like my reply, and I doubt they’ll get the government to cancel the holiday, and I KNOW the stores won’t want the cut in revenue.

    However, what really gets me is these obliviots want NOTHING to do with the Holy Day, but want the time off that was given to celebrate it.

    I think you need to read my “Keep the X in Xmas” essay. Especially: “Christians chose December 25th to celebrate because that was already a Pagan holiday (Christ was not born in the dead of Winter), so it’s not ‘your‘ holiday. People happily celebrate the day, Christian or not, because we love our friends and families, and appreciate the tradition whether it’s sacred or secular.” And that should make you happy, rather than a grouch. -rc

  7. For me, a freethinker, the word “Christmas” is like “Tuesday”, “Wednesday”, “Thursday”, “Friday”, “Saturday”, “January”, and “March”. Their usage, by or to me, does not imply recognition of the gods they name. To me, “Merry Christmas” is equivalent to “Happy Friday” except that it refers to a different time period. The only thing that bothers me about the use of “Christmas” in this manner is that Christians may be offended by such usage. That’s their decision when they address the word to me, but I avoid the word to be respectful.

    And what irony that they find your respect offensive. -rc

  8. Years ago I worked for a small-ish software house, at which the Chief Executive and the other director were both Jewish. A Jewish colleague asked if he could have a day off for each of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

    He told me that he was refused, on the grounds that actually we were the UK part of an Irish company.

    I suggested he ask for St Patrick’s Day instead.

  9. Apologize for the followup, but I just learned of a local friend whose wife died over the weekend — she had “routine” surgery of some kind, came home, seemed to be recovering fine — but he woke up in the middle of the night, Fri or Sat, and she was dead.

    That poor family isn’t having a joyous anything.

    Does it matter what we wish each other? At least we are still able to enjoy the season.

    I hope all step back and realize what is important: friends and family, not what the season is called. I just wish we could extend the feeling to the entire year but, at least for a few days, let’s take it easy.

  10. The question isn’t why people expect to go through life without being offended. It is why on earth do some people get offended by other people expressing things that seem to be contrary to their narrow point of view? Are they so insecure in their beliefs that they can’t tolerate anything that differs from those beliefs?

    Yes. -rc

  11. Strangely enough, the extremely rare time I hear about someone being “offended” over things like saying “Merry Christmas”, the one being offended is a Christian being politically correct so as not to offend those who aren’t Christian. The entire “War on Christmas” is being pushed mostly by those who believe in Christmas and feel that those who don’t are nothing but fragile children who need to be protected from the harsh realities of different opinions. It’s a False Flag operation meant to slander those who aren’t Christian, and rally support of everyone behind the “persecuted” Christians.

    I got to experience this a few years back in Montreal. The government was passing a law that would allow people wearing face coverings when voting, so as to be more accommodating to the Muslim community. Naturally, this caused a massive backlash against Muslims. People were yelling and insulting Muslims for daring to make such outrageous demands and undermine Democracy. What did the Muslim community leaders say? They were surprised at this law. They never asked for it. They had no problem at all showing their faces as part of the identification process of voting. It is one of the allowed exceptions in their religious belief. The entire thing was orchestrated by people who had nothing to do with Muslims, but had every desire to turn public opinion against them because of their own ignorance.

    Every Christmas I see Christians spreading the propaganda of the “War on Christmas”, and they get lots of support from all denominations (and non-denominations), but what is it that I have never seen? People going around saying to take Christmas out the season (I bet there are a few individual trolls, but there’s certainly no movement involving a group of people working towards that goal). Crocodile tears to get sympathy and keep Christianity in the headlines and topic of discussion during this holiday season.

    I really wish the war would stop so we could go back to wishing each other our best wishes in whatever religion we practice (or don’t practice). The only people who get offended over wishes of good will are people who would get offended if you said “good morning”. They can be ignored.

  12. Some years ago I read a Science Fiction story in which (as a minor part of the plot) a planet had only two rules:

    First, do not offend others.

    Second, do not be easily offended.

    (Rinse and repeat.)

  13. I think it was last year. My governor posted “Happy Festivus” on his FaceBook page. Many people complained. One of the common complaints was “That is a made up holiday”. I received several “Likes” for pointing out…all holidays are made up.

    +1 -rc

  14. I always use “Happy Holidays” as shorthand for “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” and 26th is also national holiday in Slovenia though not celebrated much, most people just see it as an extra free day after Christmas. If I know other person is practicing Christian I might say “Merry Christmas”.

  15. If there’s a “War on Christmas,” then we’re winning. Christmas is everywhere, and I don’t know anybody who is offended by somebody saying “Merry Christmas,” but I’m tired of these “chip-on-the-shoulder” Christians who are turning into bullies, getting mad at poor store clerks who say “Happy Holidays.” (They could build a house for Habitat with all those chips.)

    If you come to my house, my front door wreath says “Happy Holidays,” and if you come inside you’ll see my 3 Christmas trees and my collection of Nativities.

    As far as Christians being “persecuted” in this country — what a joke! Persecution is having to hide in basements to go to church and fearing for your life if your Christianity is found out. Being made fun of in a movie or a city deciding against a religious display may be annoying to some, but it’s NOT persecution.

    Last year, I got an email saying that we should only shop in stores where they say “Merry Christmas,” and by doing so, we were “doing it for Christ.” As if doing ANY shopping, unless it’s for those less fortunate, is doing anything for Christ.

    Jesus said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” Not, “If you love me, celebrate my birthday a certain way and bully anybody who doesn’t do the same.”

    I don’t even like having a birthday cake “for Jesus,” or singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. I think, by the time we sing things like “Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,” or “Glory to the newborn King,” we’ve said happy birthday to Jesus. He has the best birthday songs already.

  16. I have no objections whatsoever with people wishing me Happy Holidays or whatever.

    What I object to is being told I am in the wrong for wishing someone a Happy Christmas!! Oh well, it is their problem rather than mine, just so long as they don’t break my windows to break the Christmas signs. LOL

  17. I know December 25th isn’t the actual day of the birth of Jesus, and that date was originally the mid-winter solstice Saturnalia taken over by the Christian leaders a long time ago. That’s why I said is was a celebration of his birth and not his birthday. The actual birth date was in spring as the shepherds were out tending their birthing flocks and there’s a new born lamb involved in the stories of his birth. Also, Joseph and Mary were on their way to the main home of Joseph’s family to be counted in the census, and Roman census was usually done in spring as the travelling of the census takers was easier then.

    Also, I now think I should have recounted more of the conversation in the first post as all I gave was my response to a long tirade about why we should not say Christmas. However, the point I WAS trying to make is the PC Police want us to drop using Christmas but still want the time off to celebrate it. I just wish they were consistent.

    The same applies to the US federal government with their efforts to totally remove things like private prayer in schools. there are so MANY of the federal and state laws in both the USA and Australia that are based on the Christian beliefs of the leaders of that time that it’s not funny. If they want to remove all church influence on the state, then all those laws should be looked at and changed as well. They should also start ignoring the religious things by private individuals they don’t like instead of actively attacking them when they happen in schools.

    Anyway, have a safe and happy Christmas celebration of whatever type you wish.

  18. I was shopping a couple weeks ago and the checker by the door was saying “Happy Holidays”. The man before me snapped angrily, “It’s Merry Christmas, goddammit!”


    First off, the Bible I read prohibits taking the Lord’s name in vain. I’m pretty sure there’s no exception for “unless you disagree with the greeting being given you”. I can’t figure out how someone could be so Christian as to be offended by “Happy Holidays” but not by using the Lord’s name in vain.

    Secondly, see the very awesome imgur link above. The proper response to someone wishing you well is “Thank you, you too!”.

    I’m so glad people like this are out coloring others’ opinion of my religion….

  19. As a Christian, I don’t care what you, the greeter at Walmart, someone from the ACLU, or anyone else greets me with; as long as they are cordial and it is what that person feels like (s)he wants to use. What ticks me off is when you (a generality), Walmart (again, a generality) or the ACLU tries to require a particular greeting, or preclude the use of a particular one) to keep from “OFFENDING’ someone. That offends ME.

  20. I’m Atheist and still say Merry Christmas to lots of people.

    As Randy says it’s the polite thing to do, and to me it makes no difference on religion.

  21. My first comment is in regard to a reply made by Randy to a commentator. The reply was, “May he someday understand true persecution. -rc”. To this I say, you cannot understand true persecution without experiencing it. Oh, you may have a sympathetic “understanding” of the mechanics, but you will never have the true, empathetic “understanding” without first hand experience as the target of said persecution. Be careful in what you wish upon others, as you may be wishing great pain and suffering upon another whose only offense is being “offended”.

    My second comment is to the majority of the comments shown on this page. Though I am not offended, I do enjoy the irony in the display of so many comments regarding the topic of the posting in which the commentator expresses just how offended they are by people who are offended (rightly or wrongly) by others references to holiday greetings. Comedy such as this is nearly priceless!

    I spoke precisely: I indeed hope the reader’s co-worker is able to understand true persecution. That doesn’t mean a lifetime of persecution, but he could get a good taste of it if he travels abroad. Those who whine and scream that they’re persecuted in North America for being Christians just don’t get it. -rc

  22. I have had idiots (not said to disparage real idiots) tell me that the use of the phrase Happy Holiday is too Catholic, and as practicing Christians they were offended by my greetings.

  23. I’m Jewish, but when it comes to holidays, I’m ecumenical; I’ll celebrate ANYBODY’S holidays. My typical comment on this topic is something on the order of “Just because it’s not my guy’s birthday, that doesn’t mean I can’t help friends celebrate!”

  24. Just finished the comments on the push to remove the word “Christmas” from “Merry Christmas” etc. It reminded me of an incident here in Australia a couple of year ago when some pinhead decided that the various store Santas should not say “Ho, ho, ho” because the expression “Ho” was too similar to “Whore”!

    PC is not restricted to the USA!

  25. Christmas is a holiday come lately. The Winter Solstice is the original reason for the season. And a Swedish friend reminded me that his ancestors were worshiping Odin with midwinter feasts “thousands of years ago, and don’t forget that we Vikings struck fear into Christians all over Europe for many centuries.”

  26. I’ve been trying to remember just when it was I started using “Happy Holidays” as an all-purpose greeting.

    I grew up in lily-white suburbia of the Fifties and hit college in ’66. I met not only my first blacks, but made my first non-Christian friends. It wasn’t until the eighties I made my first pagan and/or Wiccan friends. I’d already acquired some agnostic/atheist friends by then, although I don’t remember any of them getting bent by the phrase “Merry Christmas.”

    BTW, don’t forget the Orthodox Christians, Russian and Greek, who may celebrate the same holidays but by a different calendar!

    Anyway, at *some* point I decided “Happy Holidays” was an all-purpose greeting that could cover all holidays/holy days from Thanksgiving through Epiphany, or on to Ground Hog Day if need be.

    Now, I don’t ALWAYS say this. If I know the people and preferences, I go with that. If I’m replying, I reply in kind. But for very casual encounters, such as a checkout line in a store where I don’t normally shop, I want to express good will with minimum confusion. And I’ve long thought that other people used it the same way.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it always seemed rather common-sensical to me.

  27. While I never hesitate to say “Merry Christmas,” and have never encountered someone who was offended by it, I will say “happy holidays” to someone I know to be a non-Christian. That is now called “politically correct.” We used to call it “considerate.”

  28. I’m offended by Festivus because I’m offended by Seinfeld.

    I’ll live.

    The life you are going to tell me to get is fine. I ignore Seinfeld and Festivus.

    That’s fine — I mostly ignore him too. No one is saying that you must live by a comedy show plotline. -rc

  29. Several years ago, I hit on a generic greeting/wish, and it goes like this… “Please enjoy the winter celebration of your choosing.” And it was before “Festivus” on Seinfeld!

  30. The late James P Hogan wrote a story set in the future in wich people celebrate ‘Gravmass’ the Birthday of Newton (somebody above mentioned Newtons B’day too).

    Its a delightfull story.

    Happy Gravmass.

    Thanks. You too! -rc

  31. Thanks to EVERYONE for such thoughtful posts, I hope your holidays of choice were joyous!

    What puzzles me is this meme that atheist and/or agnostics are offended by greetings; I have never met one yet. Nearly all of us are happy for a chance to celebrate regardless of the reason and know full well we are a minority in an oddly religious country. (That’s OK, life without diversity would be boring.) I suspect this is a reaction to the concern about Government displays of religiosity, a different thing altogether and perhaps a bit too subtle for some to grasp. The only conclusion I can reach is that it’s a made up controversy to distract from real discrimination (which sadly does happen).

    Keep religion out of government and government out of religion, keep your chosen holidays and greetings, take well wishing as the courtesy it is and return it in kind.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  32. As a wise old woman suggested, when you find yourself getting upset about something, “Ask yourself, will it make a difference 20 years from now? If it doesn’t cool your jets.” So the person who included directions to the flow chart for holiday greeting, had it covered with “Thank you very much; same to you!”

  33. When I was a kid I asked my mom why sometimes the decorations said ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Happy Thanksgiving’, ‘Happy New Year’, etc. She said it was because those decorations cost money and stores, businesses, even TV stations figured it would save money and time to just have the one, all-inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’ up for 3 months.

    So there you go, anyone who propagates the myth that there is a ‘war on Christmas’ is hurting Small Businesses and subverting the essence of capitalism!

    Your mother was very wise. -rc

  34. Personally, I dislike the phrase “Happy Holidays” for no rational reason that I can identify. I am an atheist with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian friends, family and colleagues, so I use “Season’s Greetings”, a phrase identical in meaning to “Happy Holidays”, which covers all the various festivals celebrated at this time of year and which also has the advantage of not making my toes curl.

    Whatever your religious stance: my sincere greetings of the season to you all!

    OK, but do you actively demand that others, including strangers, change their words when politely greeting you? “Don’t say ‘Happy Holidays’, say ‘Season’s Greetings, dammit!'”? -rc

  35. I’ve gotten more and more grumpy as the years flow past me, and, as a consequence, I just don’t like people wishing me a happy anything when I’m in such a state. So, where does that put me? 😉

    On a different tact, I taught at a private school for a short while, where there was amongst the students a professing White Supremisist. Having celebrated Hanukkah for several years (as a Christian — I’ll explain later if you wish) I made a point of celebrating Hanukkah, in part as a bit of ecumenicism, and to not ‘knuckle under’ to the fear he engendered among the staff and students.

    Do keep up the good work and never mind my grumpiness.

  36. I live in the South. The Bible Belt.

    When some PC idiot complains to me that I am not sensitive by displaying ‘Merry Christmas’, I always remind them that I don’t give a damn and then I tell them to shove it. If I can make out their religious persuasion, I make a crude remark about their beliefs. God, get real! (BTW-I am a devout atheist.)

    Seems to me that the most effective complaint about people being rude jerks isn’t to be a rude jerk too. -rc

  37. Finally remembered WHY ‘Happy Holidays’ makes sense, and it’s not PC gone mad. Nearly everyone except Mr. Grumpy celebrates either a religious holiday or the equivalent of the winter solstice (summer solstice south of the equator). The week after we celebrate the new year wherever the Gregorian calendar is used.

    New Years’ day is another holiday, so there are two holidays to celebrate, not just one. Many songs have the equivalent of ‘Have a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!’ That’s a lot longer (even in German) and the equivalent shorthand is ‘Happy Holidays’. Next time someone gets their back up, remind them of the plural, wish them a happy holidays again.

  38. Instead of getting offended about something as trivial as a holiday greeting, why not get offended about homelessness, the treatment of veterans by the state/federal gov, or by the large number of people living below the poverty line in the U.S.A, or the ongoing suffering of animals, particularly small domestic animals, or pretty much anything that is an actual issue? To my perspective as a South African, you are all missing a golden opportunity to be offended by and act upon real issues instead of politically correct claptrap. No one here in S.A gives a rattus’s posterior about being P.C., we have far too many more pressing issues to worry about to be offended by some words designed to convey a general idea, just take the idea and forget the word if you must.

  39. I think the real “war” is being waged by secular interests who want to capatalize on Christmas. I’m not nearly as annoyed by the folks who object to “Merry Christmas” as I am to the folks that want to cram Merry Christmas down our throats at every opportunity (in hopes that we will loose our grip on our wallets).

  40. I like to take a page from the French and just wish everyone a “Bon Hiver!”

    Or, “Good winter!” Works for me. -rc

  41. What I find interesting is that I, personally, have never witnessed anyone taking offense at “Merry Christmas”. I have, however, many time experienced Christians getting offended of my choosing to say “Happy Holidays”. I don’t say it to be PC as much as I have a diverse group of friends and I would never assume someone’s beliefs based on looks so I feel it is easiest just to use Happy Holidays as an “all bases covered” kind of thing.

    It does grate at me though, how very offended those “It’s Merry Christmas, dammit!” types seem to be. I mean, can’t you just take it that I am wishing you well and not bark back at me because I didn’t decide to assume your religion to give you your “proper” greeting?

  42. Wait a minute Randy, Wednesday is named after Wotan, the god of war.

    What? Not Wednesday Addams?! (It’s actually derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, “day of Woden”. Woden, better known in our culture as Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn), is a widely revered god. In Norse mythology, from which stems most of the information about the god, Odin is associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg. In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, Odin was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōdan, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wōtan.) So, for you, I’ll amend my greeting: “Have a Friggin Good Wednesday!” -rc


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