How Greetings Spawn Humbugs

Living outside the United States, I avoid being immersed in some of the silly, manufactured controversies that whip people into a talk radio-fueled frenzy. One of the big ones this time of year is the unbelievable anxiety some people get in over people saying “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

Just the other day, a former schoolmate on Facebook posted how, with Hanukkah falling in November this year, there was no excuse for anyone not to say “Merry Christmas” because there are no other holidays.

“New Year’s is no longer a holiday?” I helpfully replied.


There are many Christians who feel that their religion is under attack. I can understand why they might feel that way, although considering that Christianity continues to be a growing religion worldwide, I’m not sure the threat is real. But when someone wishes you a “happy holiday,” feeling in any way insulted or under attack seems to be a very un-Christian response. Let’s turn to the Bible to understand why.

First, the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When someone says “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” to you, they are conveying a charitable wish, one offered with no malice. In fact, they are potentially being considerate by respecting the fact that you may not be Christian. (Not always easy to tell from outward appearances alone.) Back to the Golden Rule: you would probably want people to be warm, charitable, and respectful towards you and that’s precisely the motivation of someone who wishes you a secular seasonal greeting.

Second, Jesus admonished us to “turn the other cheek.” A secular seasonal greeting is rarely intended as an insult and certainly never causes any true injury. Follow Jesus’ teaching and move on. There are much worse insults than being given warm holiday wishes by someone. Jesus died for your sins, not because someone wished him “season’s greetings”.

Third, Jesus teaches us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is considered one of the two greatest commandments, the other being to love God with all your heart. This teaching is about giving even when you are not receiving, about loving even when you are not loved. If someone wishes you a greeting that does not reflect your faith, surely your response should be a reflection of your faith. For a Christian, that means a response that is loving and giving, not one that is angry and spiteful.

Whatever your faith, the end of the year (especially in the wintry northern hemisphere) is a special time. May it find you healthy, happy, and surrounded by loved ones, regardless of your faith.


16 thoughts on “How Greetings Spawn Humbugs

  1. I absolutely agree with you Chris!!! When I worked in retail, I always made sure to say Happy Hannukah to my friends and customers who were Jewish….I wished my Muslim Co-worker a Happy Ramaddan and I was NOT offended when I was told “Happy Holidays” . My only objection was when someone objected to ME saying Merry Christmas!! In fact…we were given a pin to wear at work that said Happy Holidays…I stuck a Merry Christmas Sticker on it…because that is MY greeting!!! 🙂

    • And I think it is perfectly okay for you to do that because what I wrote holds true for non-Christians, too: if you aren’t Christian and someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, it is meant with good will and should be taken that way. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Pat!

  2. Right there with you! I say Happy Holidays since I honestly know people who celebrate Winter Solistice. Love that they fabricate a sensation that christmas is under attack every year. I am sick of it.

  3. I agree. I’m an atheist, but I’m not going to get in the least irked if someone wishes me Merry Christmas. I just say, “You too.” Just as when they offer to pray for me. No need for me to say something sarcastic–they think that they are doing me a favor.

  4. I wonder where the expression “Bah Humbug” comes from. Yes, I’m a bit off topic here.
    These past few years, I’ve become very jaded about Christmas. Sometimes I think I look like a grinch.

  5. Well whatever holiday you celebrate I wish you a merry Christmas and a peaceful, and joy filled New Year.
    I wish you and Tawn peace, happiness, and joy every day of the year.

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