I just read an excellent article in Christianity Today about the “Merry Christmas” v “Happy Holidays” flap. One hard-core Christianists who rail against “Happy Holidays” might do well to read.
But since 2005, when the “war on Christmas” reached a fever pitch, some organizations and many individual Christians have put more emphasis on the season’s greeting. At the grocery store last year, I was surprised by the indignation of a fellow shopper when the clerk wished her “Happy Holidays.” The woman glowered for a moment, then responded, without a hint of merriment, “Merry Christmas.”
Apparently she wasn’t alone. One organization is selling bumper stickers that read, “This is America! And I’m going to say it: Merry Christmas!” and “Merry Christmas! An American Tradition.” (I don’t remember the American part of the Christmas story, but I haven’t re-read Luke 2 yet this year.) Also for sale: “Just Say Merry Christmas” bracelets. (“They’re guaranteed to ward off the evil spirits of the ACLU grinches,” says the ad.)
The author goes on to relate the story of Hanukkah – Judas Maccabeus driving the Syrians from the temple, and the miracle of the oil burning for eight days – and the story in John 10 where Jesus visited the same temple during Hanukkah, and did not try to force the Jewish people at the temple to ignore their own faith.
The “Merry Christmas or death!” brigade might do well to pay closer attention to that lesson. Of course, the “War on Christmas” is a lucrative fundraising opportunity for right-wing groups, so we shouldn’t be surprised that this old saw comes up every year.