Forget “Merry Christmas”

Jeopardy!‘s Ken Jennings second guessed himself saying “Merry Christmas” today:

At the store this morning, I was appalled to feel deeply conflicted saying “Merry Christmas” to the cashier. I was suddenly seized by the suspicion that it’s starting to be impossible to wish someone merry Christmas without sounding like a good ideological soldier. I love Christmas–sometimes I say “merry Christmas.” Sometimes I say “happy holidays,” especially if I suspect the recipient is more likely to be celebrating Hanukkah or Ramadan. But I’m not going to say “merry Christmas” at all anymore if Bill O’Reilly and his fellow “War on Christmas” blowhards on Fox News are turning “Merry Christmas” into some coded “Screw you if you’re Jewish/agnostic/atheist/other!”

I like his attitude.

Ken also makes this suggestion:

If this idiocy continues, we’re going to need a new phrase every December, something that means, “Merry Christmas, including in the secular peace-on-earth-good-will-toward-men sense if that’s all you’re into and if the stupid Wiccans want to put dreamcatchers or whatever next to the nativity and the menorah in the park then that’s fine and I think it’s cynical to make Christmas-loyalty a battleground when you don’t really mean it anyway and it’s just a cynical ploy to rile up ratings in the red states.” Suggestions? I’ll make a T-shirt.

And I would wear it. As soon as someone comes up with a worthwhile idea.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Mormon[/tags]

  • Cade

    I’ve started saying Happy Winter Solstice to people just to be cute. But then again, I say stuff like “Merry hanukkah” and “Happy Birthday” to people all year long…

  • Susan B.

    When I’m working at the store (thankfully just for another week–then hopefully I’ll never work retail again!) I just use my standard year-round “Have a great day”. Having worked at various summer vacation jobs, that’s simply the phrase that’s been ground into my brain and it’s not worth changing my habits for a few weeks in December. Occasionally someone will say “Merry Christmas” (I’ve never gotten any other holiday greetings) and I’ll return it, but I figure it’s just easier not to initiate it.

  • Karen

    I’ve started saying “have a great holiday!” automatically now. I have a lot of non-Christian friends and it feels more respectful to be inclusive.

  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    From time to time, because of my name, I get asked what I am doing for Yom Kippur or wished a Happy Hannukah or invited to a synagogue. I always politely decline the invitations and accept the good will of the sentiments even though I was raised a Roman Catholic and am now an agnostic.

    O’Really’s (sic) object is to foment religious turmoil, inspire jihad. And to do that, he has hung his hat on a very sensitive holiday of good will. He needs ideological soldiers, not just on his side, but on the other side, too, little Scrooges who will spit on the holiday and fan the flames.

    Don’t give it to him.

    Try Happy Holidays. It’s been around and it’s tried and true.

  • Ian

    How about Happy Festivus?

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  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I agree with Joel. “Happy Holidays” says what Ken wants to say just beautifully.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    I think “Happy Holidays” is fine even if you know which holiday they’re celebrating, because the plural could refer to both Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus and New Year’s.

  • http://samburgess.blogspot.com Sam

    Interesting – I can see where you are coming from, but then I say “Merry Christmas” to everybody more in the spirit (so to speak!) of the season rather than for any religious reasons; and would not be at all offended if anyone said to me any variation of Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings (although that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue!) or anything else that comes to mind!

    I do, however, think that we are in danger of becoming too all-encompassing, I think that we should all recognise that everyone has a different celebration and should just accept the salutation (whatever it may be) for what it is – that is, simply a way of sharing your feelings, or weven just a conversational starter/ending!

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    “Peace on Earth”

  • severalspeciesof

    Gotta agree with writerdd:

    “Peace on Earth”

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    I think a T-shirt bearing that exact quote from Jennings would be perfect.

  • DC

    I agree with the man Jennings.
    The union flag in great britain is only flown by the military now because it was hi-jacked years ago by the extreme right. Anybody flying it in front of their house or on days other than a royal wedding is assumed to be a racist.
    Every time I hear the word christmas I’m starting to associate it with intolerance and ring wing extremism.
    For the record I answer “happy hogmannay” because that’s the holiday of merriment and hope where I’m from.


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