Defending Merry Christmas {Despite loving Hanukkah}

This is the Christmas version of Jews Don’t Eat Pork: A Lesson on Tolerance.
I love Christmastime – as do millions of other Americans. It is a family-oriented holiday where most of us get to spend time with family – even those we may not see often. It’s a time where we can put our differences aside (which we should all do the rest of the year) like during wars (Silent Night, anyone?), and just be nice to everyone else. It’s a time when we can be thankful for everything we are blessed for, and give to those who may not be as lucky.
As with every holiday, Christmastime comes with the a traditional greeting “Merry Christmas.” It’s a classic greeting – a salutation. It’s not meant as offensive, or rude. It’s a wish of goodwill, and very seldom said with evil intentions. And as much as so many atheists would like to change it, Christmas is a Christian-oriented holiday (Yes I am aware of its pagan roots) and Christmas music classics such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” are still very popular.
 
If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, or if you couldn’t tell from my blog name, I love Judaism and I am a proud supporter of Israel. Yet, in Judaism, Hanukkah is a minor holiday and until the commercialized Christmas hype, Hanukkah was known as the least-important holiday in Judaism. It is one of the very few Jewish holidays not commanded to celebrate in the Bible. Still, Hanukkah is a pretty cool holiday. You can read more about it at Hebrew For Christians.

We call every other holiday by its name. Why not Christmas? The Political-Correct police claims “Merry Christmas”- is “intolerant” to other religions/beliefs/whatever. There are two main problems with this “logic.” Firstly, how come no one says “Happy Holidays” during any other time of the year? Despite many other Jewish holiday’s like Sukkot, Yom Kippur, and Passover (all of which are much more important to Judaism than Hanukkah) nobody ever says “Happy holidays” during Passover/Easter time. (I am not suggesting they do, either.)
Although Jesus and Christ-centered Christmas carols are quite offensive to mention in school during Christmastime, Santa doesn’t seem to be, for some weird reason – despite Santa clearly being Christmas. (Christmas trees aren’t offensive either.) Santa is not Jewish, nor does he have any connection with Hanukkah. So, whenever Santa and his reindeer says “Happy holidays” because “Happy holidays” is somehow more tolerant…awkward. And hypocritical – defeating their entire “Happy holidays is more tolerant” argument. They don’t want tolerance – they simply don’t want to say merry Christmas.
Speaking of tolerance, how is getting upset and offended at a simple “Merry Christmas” and demand the manger scene in front of a church be taken down tolerant? It’s really funny how “tolerant” people work. A cashier saying “Merry Christmas” isn’t going to kill anyone. Just because I don’t celebrate Halloween doesn’t mean I’m going to sue a costume store because my “feelings were hurt” or get mad at someone wishing me a friendly “Happy Halloween.”
Just because I don’t believe in the necessity of baptism, doesn’t mean I’m going to start a protest about it. “Merry Christmas” is in no way offensive or intolerant, and any truly tolerant person (aka a typical religious Jew) wouldn’t mind if his neighbor wished him a merry Christmas. Anyone who gets offended at “Merry Christmas” simply shows how intolerant they are! And, I can guarantee those same people would not get upset at “Happy Hanukkah” for being intolerant.
On the flip side, I don’t hate “Happy holidays.” One “Happy holidays” or even a hundred “Happy holidays” aren’t going to kill me. If you are Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, atheist – and you say “Happy holidays” – that’s fine. Go ahead; it doesn’t bother me. It’s your right. However, when someone gets offended and bans “Merry Christmas” “O Come O Come Emmanuel” or “all other religious references” – they are interfering with my rights and I will defend them. Atheists are fond of saying “separate church and state” – however when the state begins interfering with our beliefs and starts to silence us – yes, we will speak out.
At the same time, Christians shouldn’t be obnoxious about it, and they too should be respectful. Like a marriage or really any relationship, it’s about mutual respect.
Back to the more political aspect (aka bigger picture), it’s not about “Happy holidays.” It’s just one tiny aspect in a sea of other issues. It’s about the silencing. I’m not fighting for forcing everyone to say “Merry Christmas” – I’m fighting for the simple right to say it freely. When one thing goes, the next soon follows and before you know it – you can’t say anything. And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I believe you should speak out for the right to say “merry Christmas” – because soon, your rights may be next. (Remember the poem First they Came?) How do I know this? Because it’s happened – with every single act of tyranny in history.
Jewish actor and lawyer Ben Stein says it best, from a Jewish perspective:
“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees… I don’t feel threatened.. I don’t feel discriminated against.. That’s what they are, Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.”
And really, that’s the attitude you should have. That’s tolerance – and just plain truth and wisdom. Let’s work together, help each other, peacefully agree to disagree, and just go on with our life without suing everyone who disagrees with you and demanding the world revolve around you.

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Samantha is an entrepreneur and a former homeschool student from Indiana, USA. When not blogging, Samantha can be found reading about WWII, trying to speak Hebrew, and wasting time on Pinterest. Her work can be found on Free Homeschool Deals, Unigo, True Aim Education, Encouraging Moms at Home, and more.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Samantha, I grew up in the south and was reared in Methodist and Episcopal churches, and shared your perspective. Then I married a Jewish New Yorker, lived on Long Island (more Jews in the greater NY area than in Jerusalem), and changed the way I saw things, not from a need or desire to be politcally correct, but from an increased understanding which grew from living in the “capital city of the world”. You will, I hope, forgive this bit of NY ego, but that’s how most of us here think of our Big Apple. What I want to say, to clarify, is that we have so many people here from so many different traditions celebrating so many different winter holidays – Pagan, Christian, Jew, and on and on… it’s simply more inlcusive to say “Happy Holidays” which takes in whatever anyone happens to be rejoicing over at any given time, and excludes no one. When I lived in a smaller, more insular, more homogeneous Virginia community, the greeting was always “Merry Christmas”. And if you know that someone is Christian, it’s still (and always will be) the most appropriate greeting you can utter. But in a huge urban-suburban area with a vast number of people from all parts of the world, all those millions of us rubbing elbows with each other daily, something along the lines of “Have a wonderful holiday!” includes everyone in case you don’t know someone’s specific faith. It takes in the secular celebrations as well as the religious ones, and wishes joy to others who may just be touchy enough to resent a misplaced (although well meant) specific greeting for a particular holiday not their own. And, as you already know – else you would not have written your excellent blog – there are all too many who take offense at a well-meaning wish for happiness. In our multi-faith family we haves Christians, Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, Atheists and Unitarians. So it’s pretty hard to bristle at any greeting coming our way. Why would anyone take offense at good will? I’ll never figure that one out and I’ve lived many decades. But I write this just to say that if you are not living in a huge metropolitan area, you should be aware of some of the mechanics of why “Happy Holidays” may be a perfectly adequate seasonal wish in many circumstances. May I also say I hope you continue to write so cogently and well on thought provoking topics. It’s refreshing to see it. Merry Christmas…. Etc… ;0}

    • Hey Samantha! 🙂 I totally agree, and I actually don’t mind “Happy Holidays.” I just wrote this post to defend the right to say “Merry Christmas” – because I know some places (schools) have banned such things. 🙂 Anyways, thanks and Merry Christmas!

  2. Samantha—-
    Great post, as usual. I particularly liked Ben Stein’s quote.
    But I’m actually writing today because I noticed that you’ve been nominated for “Best Teen Blog” over at The Homeschool Post.
    Good for you!
    :)Wren

  3. I just found your blog through your post about studying history without textbooks. I’ve printed out your suggestions to use in my homeschool. I briefly looked at your homepage and could not find a place to subscribe to your posts. Did I miss it or do you have a Facebook or Pinterest page where I could follow you?

  4. Hi Samantha. Season’s Greetings! I just stumbled onto your blog (oddly enough from your Pinterest pics about math cheatsheets) and I look forward to reading more of it but for now I wanted to address something you said in this post. You asked the question: “” and the answer is because there is no other time of year with two major holidays only a week apart. The history of the phrase “Happy Holidays” goes back over 100 years (see <a href="http://www.hburgjeremy.com/2011/12/history-of-happy-holidays.html&quot; title="this post") to a time when nobody (in the mainstream) was particularly worried about the feelings of Jews and non-Christians (in fact much of the past hundred years was time when there was a lot of popular anti-semetic expressions in mainstream America and Europe). The phrase "Happy Holidays" was originally meant to cover Christmas and New Year's as a single and unique pairing of holidays. For a long time, before this world became rush-rush-rush many people would take a full week off from work and go to visit family during this time. Businesses would hang signs saying "Closed for the Holidays" (note the "s"). The fact is that this appropriate simplification of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" was never intended to cover Hanukkah or anything else, yet isn't it appropriate that it has evolved into a greeting of universal Goodwill to Men (and Women). In the spirit of Peace on Earth perhaps we all should begin by ending the War for/against a Merry Christmas and just accept each greeting given to us in the spirit it was intended.

    • Hey Bryan! Thanks for commenting! I kinda have figured that, but as with many things (aka the word “feminist”) meanings do change over time. :/
      And yes, I quite agree with you – which was the point of the article. 🙂 I don’t mind “happy holidays” – what I do mind is many atheists trying to silence “Merry Christmas” (and Nativity scenes) to a point many are afraid to say it out of fear of offending someone – and on a larger scale, silencing is dangerous and violation of what this country was built on. In my opinion, it should be up to the person whether or not they say it, and they should be able to say it without fear.
      PS Sorry about the HTML issue – most people who comment don’t use HTML.

  5. Hi Samantha. Season’s Greetings! I just stumbled onto your blog (oddly enough from your Pinterest pics about math cheatsheets) and I look forward to reading more of it but for now I wanted to address something you said in this post. You asked the question: “[H]ow come no one says “Happy Holidays” during any other time of the year?” and the answer is because there is no other time of year with two major holidays only a week apart. The history of the phrase “Happy Holidays” goes back over 100 years (see ) to a time when nobody (in the mainstream) was particularly worried about the feelings of Jews and non-Christians (in fact much of the past hundred years was time when there was a lot of popular anti-semetic expressions in mainstream America and Europe). The phrase “Happy Holidays” was originally meant to cover Christmas and New Year’s as a single and unique pairing of holidays. For a long time, before this world became rush-rush-rush many people would take a full week off from work and go to visit family during this time. Businesses would hang signs saying “Closed for the Holidays” (note the “s”). The fact is that this appropriate simplification of “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” was never intended to cover Hanukkah or anything else, yet isn’t it appropriate that it has evolved into a greeting of universal Goodwill to Men (and Women). In the spirit of Peace on Earth perhaps we all should begin by ending the War for/against a Merry Christmas and just accept each greeting given to us in the spirit it was intended.

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