It’s OK to say ‘Merry Christmas’

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

As greetings go, is there still a big hoopla over “Merry Christmas”?

Based on the very recent observations that some stores reportedly removed the word ‘Christmas,’ from their displays and ads, indeed, there is a visible ingredient missing.

Many felt offended when they found out that ‘Merry Christmas’ was replaced by ‘Happy Holidays.’ One expat, a longtime U.S. resident remarked: “All aspects of the wonderful season seemed to evaporate in what I noted was a compromise of anti-confrontation.”

Cota D. Yabut, an art educator from the Golden State’s Bay Area remarked: “The Merry ‘CHRIST’mas will always be there, legislated or not. To all Christians around the world no one can change greetings based on one man-made regulation. This is where home guidance will be balanced with what the schools will have to allow. For others who praise the Supreme Being in their own way, like Happy Hanukkah, etc., it is their own freedom to choose. I usually greet my Jewish friends ‘Happy Holidays,’ even before the reminder(s) came about word change, about how to say greetings came around.”

This writer remembers when, decades ago, just before December 20th rolled around each year, most telephone operators would add: “Have a nice Christmas.” Theirs were live voices. Their greetings were not canned. A few would say, “Happy Holidays.” But what was dominant was, “Merry Christmas!”

Many a time, a few years back, most retail establishments exhibited vibrant and colorful Merry Christmas signs. Proprietors and their staff bade their patrons home with the same good wishes.

As motorists prepared to drive away from parking lots after their shopping chores, it seemed as though people knew one another, thanks to exchanging “Merry Christmas” greetings, accompanied by smiling countenances. Some would take the time to shake hands, with smiles accompanying their greetings. When occurrences like those happened, it really seemed like Christmas.

Rummaging through the Britannica Book of the Year, I read a fact that said: “82 percent of the U.S. is Christian.” Some religious historians refer to the significance of Christmas, laced with their comment: it is “Jesus Christ’s birthday.” And that is how mankind traces the origins of Christmas.

Despite the drastic decisions that some stores arrived at in terms of substituting “Happy Holidays” for the age-old “Merry Christmas,” I still believe the spirit of Christmas, zeroing in on the arrival of the Christ Child will remain.

Without Christ, there would be no Christmas.

Christmas, as the ages show, is not a holiday/celebration for all of mankind because several religious beliefs exist.

To Christians, Christ is the messiah. That is why Christians have a special day to honor him. There are other religious sects that believe otherwise. In this country, the fact remains that freedom of religion is alive and well.

For those who say they are offended by Christmas, may I suggest something? There is no need to celebrate; you don’t have to give gifts; don’t sell merchandise; don’t send greeting cards; don’t do anything to remind you of Christmas.

If you look into what’s going on during the season, you don’t have to be reminded that such acts are traditions spurred by those who wish to acknowledge Christ.

I now wonder if those utterances about taking Christ out of Christmas to make it a generic holiday, are aware that they have offended Christians. There are more than enough voices all over who will not hesitate to assert that they have already been offended by “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas.” They will not deny their claim: ‘it’s always been Christmas.’ Nor are they ready to make that change in greetings.

No further argument is needed. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ,

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