Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

In a time of year set aside for the celebration of the coming of the one who was sent to bring hope, peace, love and joy to humankind, we have yet another match of opposing view-points:

“In this corner, wearing the traditional colours of red and green, we have the favourite champion, ‘Merry Christmas”, and in the opposite corner, wearing every colour in the rainbow, we have the title contender, ‘Happy Holidays’.”

“Merry Christmas” is supported by Christians, traditionalists and perhaps those who support religious freedom. “Happy Holidays” is backed by commercialism, changeable ‘political correctness’, indifference and religious intolerance.

Which side are you on? I admit to being somewhat uncertain, as I do not see this issue as being quite so ‘black and white’ (or red and green, as it were). Is the issue really whether or not we say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays” or is the real issue what it is that fosters such a debate in the first place?

I am not really sure why we have elevated December 25th to such a holy place. It is my understanding that there is no God-breathed scriptural evidence to suggest that Jesus was born on that day. There is a line of thought that it could not have been in December anyways, as it would have been too cold at that time for shepherds in Israel to be out at night with their flocks. The early Christian churches did not appear to celebrate Jesus’ birthday at all. I, myself, can find no place in scripture where, we as Christians, have been commanded to commemorate a day of Jesus’ birth. (Please let me know if you have as I would like to be correct in my understanding.)

In fact, the date of December 25th has it’s origins as a pagan Roman festival:

“The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.[6]

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs may have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.[7]”  (Wikipedia)

So, as I can find no scriptural evidence to support celebrating Christmas, I am not offended if someone doesn’t wish me a ‘Merry Christmas’. My concern is not over what they say, but rather, why they say it. If someone is earnestly wishing me well during this festive season, I am blessed that they are thinking kindly of me, whether they do so through a ‘Merry Christmas’ or a ‘Happy Holiday’. Conversely, if I wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’, I would hope that person would not take offense at my wishing them a blessed festive season! I don’t know why anybody, Christian or not, would choose to take offense at someone who is wishing them well!

However, I do care, very much, if our right to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ is being taken away! I have heard that some retailers and government offices have forbidden their staff to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anyone!! Excuse me, but I thought that I was living in Canada – a country where we supposedly have religious freedom and freedom of expression???!!! To me, this is yet another move to remove our rights as Christians to openly express our beliefs!

Isn’t it strange how it is considered a hate crime to say anything negative about homosexuality but it is not seen as  wrong to forbid Christians to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’?! (As Christians, we should not be ignorant of the ways of our enemy, the devil.)

While I don’t believe that December 25th is the actual day of Jesus’ birth, I do believe in the spirit of the season. I believe in being grateful for a merciful and gracious God who gave us the priceless gift of His precious Son. I thank God for the gifts of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy which are given to us through Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the gift of the forgiveness of my sins and for the gift of a sure hope of a resurrected life through Jesus Christ.

I think that we should be mindful of, and thankful for, all these wonderful gifts the whole year through, not just once a year. But I also see nothing wrong in setting aside a special time to focus on God’s gracious gift.

I hope that you believe in Christmas for the right reason. And, I hope that you stand up for Jesus and be not ashamed to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ upon everyone you meet. And if someone should wish you ‘Happy Holidays’, be gracious and say “Thank You”.

Gal 5:13  For, brothers, you were called to liberty. Only do not use the liberty for an opening to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Gal 5:14  For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Joyeux Noel

 

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