November 28, 2005

Coming to a Conversation Soon: "Merry Christmas"

NoGodBlog raised the question of whether hearing "merry Christmas" this time of year was annoying. He notes that it is said with good intentions but reflects the assumption that the both parties share Christianity.

If one construes Christmas as primarily a religious holiday, then I think one will take offense at this phrase. However, what about those who believe that any religious meaning Christmas once had was lost a long time ago and that Christmas now represents little more than a retail event? Would these people have any reason to react negatively?

At a minimum, "merry Christmas" assumes that I celebrate Christmas. I don't. I find no reason to acknowledge a religious holiday or the epicenter of American consumerism. While I do generally give a few simple gifts and send a few holiday cards that do not mention Christmas, this is the extent of my acknowledgment. So yes, "merry Christmas" pisses me off in that it assumes I share a common belief system (religious or consumer-centered) with the speaker, which I do not.

I also wonder how "merry Christmas" feels to Jews, Muslims, etc. Not that Christians generally care about their feelings, but it does seem reasonable that persons of other religions might have an even stronger negative reaction than I do.

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