Happy Holidays To All And To All A Good Night!

by Brandon

Every year around this time the news starts making a big deal out of the little things that people say to each other.  Yes, I’m talking about the difference between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”.

Before I give my thoughts on the two, let’s take a look at the history of “Merry Christmas”.

Would you believe that the “merry” in Merry Christmas is unusual?  Most other well-wishes at this time of year start with “happy” - “Happy Chanukkah” or “Happy New Year”.  Wikipedia says, “Though Christmas has been observed since the 4th century AD, the first known usage of any Christmastime greeting dates back to 1565, when it appeared in The Hereford Municipal Manuscript: “And thus I comytt you to God, who send you a mery Christmas.”

From there on out it was used pretty widely – We Wish You A Merry Christmas (which was written in the 16th century – I had no idea it was that old), Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and in the same year the first commercial Christmas card.

In the UK and Ireland they began saying “Happy Christmas” around the late 1800s – mainly because “merry” meant you were drunk.

They must have had family visiting.

So from there we get to where we are today – Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Season’s Greetings.  The main thing to remember with these phrases is that the person saying them to you is wishing you well and saying that they hope you have a great holiday season.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah,  it doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate Kwanzaa – the person is telling you they hope you enjoy your next few days or weeks.  They’re being inclusive instead of exclusive.

So if you’re an atheist and someone walks up to you and says, “Merry Christmas!”, they’re probably not trying to cram their religion down your throat – they’re trying to include you in the happiness they’re feeling at this time of year. So just smile and say, “Thanks, and happy holidays to you too!”.  If you’re a Christian and someone walks up to you and says, “Season’s greetings!”, this doesn’t mean that they’re telling you that they don’t agree with your religion – they’re wishing you well.  So just smile and say, “Thanks, you too!”  You can switch around any combination religions (or lack thereof) and it works the same way.

So to all of you reading this: Merry Christmas, happy holidays and season’s greetings!

BONUS WIKIPEDIA FACTOID:  “Merry Xmas,” is usually used to avoid the length of “Merry Christmas,” with the “X” replacing “Christ.” However, “X” is actually the Greek abbreviation for Christ, although this is not well known.


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