You wouldn’t think you could offend someone by wishing them happy holy days, would you?
Fact is, these days you can offend some people by saying “Hello” to them. Or by not saying “Hello.”
The point? That the word “holidays” – which some people take to be a cheap, bland and unacceptable substitute for “Merry Christmas” – comes from the two words “holy days”. Christmas and Easter are two of the holiest (most special and sacred) days of the year for Christians. So Christmas is a “Holy Day”. It’s to be celebrated and enjoyed, and so we greet everyone at this time of year, encouraging them to have the best and most meaningful Christmas – both the day and the season – possible. It’s in this sense that we say “Merry Christmas” to people, and it’s never intended to be obnoxious, nor disrespectful to people who follow other religions. No matter what people’s religious backgrounds or perspectives, we sincerely hope everyone will come to know more about Jesus, and see what an amazing person and teacher He was and is for us all, even today.
Some people feel that the pressure to say something non-specific like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” somehow forces them to abandon what they really would like to be wishing people, a “Merry” – and meaningful – celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It seems to me that if you are sincere and sensitive in your desire to wish people a “Merry Christmas”, most people will not find this expression of goodwill offensive.
To those who intentionally don’t celebrate Christmas, but do celebrate other holy days, my sincere hope is that people may be free to enjoy their own “holy days”, even if their focus is different from mine. “Peace on earth, goodwill to all!” That’s what the angels sang on that first Christmas, and that’s the legacy we wish to continue as believers in Jesus today.
So, please don’t trip over the greeting, and be sure to show love through whatever your chosen greeting may be. Your love for people will communicate far more than your favourite words for expressing it! That’s the way love works – it has a way of hitting the spot, no matter how imperfect our words may be.
So, “Merry Christmas” to you, if you can accept that greeting from me. And regardless, may these HolyDays be happy for you.
Disagree? Have suggestions? Want to talk this over? Send me an e-mail: Jamie@EasternPassageBaptist.ca