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No, there isn't a war on Christmas (and there never was).

Updated on November 22, 2014
M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer is a far-left liberal that believes the U.S. government can, and should, be saved from big money.

Over the last dozen Christmas’ (and I’m sure the next dozen) there has been a frequent debate about whether or not there is a 'war' on Christmas. This war, popularized by 24 hour news networks, essentially revolves around businesses using the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ to greet their patrons. I can’t remember the exact year that this first started, but I’m fairly certain it was in the 2000s. So let me examine the reasons why it’s total crap.

Happy Holidays has been around a lot longer than the ‘war’ on Christmas.

When I was a kid (the 1990s), Happy Holidays was a common phrase. It was in stores, on television and written all over advertisements. At the time, I just assumed that the reason they said happy holidays was to cover all the end-year holidays at the same time. It’s easier to just say one thing rather than saying happy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years to everyone you see. As America became more aware and tolerant of other religions, it was just a lucky coincidence that happy holidays also covered other religious holidays at the end of the year. It was a win-win situation. That is, until someone turned it ugly.

It’s corporate, not personal.

There is also a misconception that the sides of this war are the Christians versus the non-Christians. So, in other words, the minority religions are saying to the Christians; you can’t say Merry Christmas because it offends us. In reality, no one ever said that and the non-Christians weren’t the ones calling for Happy Holidays to be in our stores. I myself am a non-Christian and I couldn't care less if you tell me Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Festivus. Your greeting is the last thing that is going to offend me. The real war, if there is one, is between the Christians and the corporations. Corporations need to be politically correct because they don’t want to exclude potential buyers. If you ran a business, the worst thing you could do is discourage people from shopping in your store. That’s essentially how the companies saw it, so they shifted more towards Happy Holidays in the hopes that it would just cover everyone. Then, the war was created, and now Christians think they’re under attack.

Christianity is the MAJORITY!

So, while Christians and corporations fight a fictional war between each other, where does that leave the rest of us? In an attempt to be more accepting of all faiths, corporations kept Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas, and an overwhelming number Christians said; you can’t do that. So, some companies have given into the pressure and switched back. Just try to imagine how this looks to the rest of us who aren’t Christians. The biggest, most influential religion in the United States, is complaining because their religion isn’t up front and center at all their favorite stores. One of the things America prides itself on is religious freedom. If you come here, you can worship whoever you want. The message from powerful Christian groups, however, is that you can worship whoever you want, but don’t expect representation in our capitalistic society. We’re the biggest and therefore we deserve to have our names in giant glowing letters. Which doesn't seem to gel very well with the USA's melting-pot status or Christian values.

A more accurate speech for A Charlie Brown Christmas.
A more accurate speech for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Christmas isn’t Christian.

I think part of the problem is the disconnect between the Christmas we know today versus the Christianity we know today. For example, one could grow up celebrating Christmas and having little to no associations between it and religion. I know this because that’s exactly what happened to me. My parents were not Christian and yet we celebrated Christmas every year. How did we do this? Because very little of Christmas is associated with Jesus anymore. Santa clause, pine trees, frosty the snow man and Rudolf are all staples of Christmas and yet they have almost nothing to do with Christianity. And, even if there was some nugget of similarity in the past (Saint Nicholas) the old ways are so commercialized that those associations are indistinguishable now. This comes on top of the fact that December 25th is not actually Jesus’s birthday. The church made it his birthday in order to assimilate pagan religions, so that little speech on a Charlie Brown Christmas is wildly inaccurate. If Christians should be mad at anyone, they should be mad at the corporations that turned the holiday into something that the non-religious could also celebrate.

But I bring up the subject of Christmas not being Christian because I think that might be why a lot of people are upset when they don’t hear it walking into a store. Because the religious associations have been downplayed and the patriotic associations enhanced. Christian Christmas is a religious holiday that is grouped under Happy Holidays with every other religion. Corporate Christmas, however, is an American holiday that should be left alone. That, I believe, is one of the reasons why this 'war' ever gained ground.

In the future.

My biggest concern here is that, because of the Christian backlash to this phony war, it is now considered a bad thing to say ‘happy holidays’. It’s almost like they’re interpreting the greeting as a direct insult to their religious beliefs. So, despite what word of mouth, and the 24 hour news networks are telling me, all I see are religious people attacking Happy Holidays. If this is a war, it’s incredibly one sided. The juggernaut religion was tricked into thinking it was at war, so it systematically took out the peaceful village at the edge of town. It would be like the United States going to war with New Zealand because we THOUGHT they had insulted us. Meanwhile New Zealand is just trying to figure out what happened while it’s bombarded from all sides. As a side note, I think New Zealand is great and would love to vacation there some day.

So, what have we learned from all of this? First, the use of Happy Holidays isn’t an attack on Christmas. It’s been around long enough to make that claim. Second, if there is any perceived shift in the use of holiday greetings, blame the corporations, not the minority religions who still aren’t getting recognition. Or, blame the 24 hour news media that manufactured this war in the first place. Third; Christians, chill out. You’re still the big man on campus. The worst thing you can try to do is play the victim card to a bunch of minorities. I doubt Jesus would throw a hissy fit because he didn’t see his name on the front door of a JCPenny. What corporations do or don’t do around the holidays should have no bearing whatsoever on your personal religious beliefs, so get over it.


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    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Perhaps my new hub on this topic will explain more detail.

      As I said, the ACLU may have done some good but their main goal to to remove Christianity and Religion from the public square and they will use the courts to force it upon the public. If that is not war, so be it.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      3 years ago from United States

      jackclee lm - Googling "ACLU court cases christmas" comes up with a bigger variety of cases than you might think, the first of which is a case about a Jewish display, not a Christian one. Though I'll admit that one was on wikipedia and who knows how trustworthy that info is. But it appears the ACLU also has instances of defending religious rights for Christians. So it is a battle of perceptions.

      If the government were coming up to you and telling you that you can't celebrate Christmas, then I would agree there is a war on Christmas. But we're talking about religious displays on government owned land. Which is a grey area meant to be addressed by the separation of church and state. It's true that the majority of Americans are Christian, and majority rules in a democracy, but the majority has yet to alter the constitution to declare this a Christian nation. Until that day comes, we have to abide by it, even if it means taking down the manger from outside public schools.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 years ago from Yorktown NY

      The war on christmas is not what you perceive. It is being waged by the ACLU in the court house. They are taking local school boards to court to intimidate them to remove Christmas from the school calendar. Google it and you will find plenty of cases. Wise up.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      4 years ago from United States

      WiccanSage - Agreed; any sort of greeting is better than a stick in the eye. And, if we are secure in our beliefs and convictions, it shouldn't matter what anyone else says. Thanks for the comment!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      4 years ago

      True, this whole 'war' thing bugs me from both sides of the 'battle'. It's just silly and it's a pity so many people are getting so wrapped up in things like what others choose to say, letting it ruin their own holidays.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Rusty - You joke, but that is how it feels sometimes. It would be like someone getting angry because you said 'have a nice day' instead of 'have a good afternoon'. They're both positive greetings, why do they have to be twisted into attacks? Thanks for the comment!

    • Rusty C. Adore profile image

      C Levrow 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      I'm super offended when someone tells me "Happy Holidays" how dare they assume that I want my holidays to be happy?! What if I enjoy the misery that comes with the inevitable family squabbles? The crowded stores... the overpriced everything? What if I ENJOY the UNhappiest of holidays!? lol :)

      I kid, of course... the Happy Holidays VS Merry Christmas debate always gets my goat. People are just trying to enjoy the season one way or the other. It is not a crime to wish someone Happy Holidays.... just try to enjoy the season with a smile people. Or at the very least... just try to survive.

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Jazzy Quicksilver - There is definitely an over-sensitivity today. Neither Happy Holidays, nor Merry Christmas is an insult, so people shouldn't be angry no matter which greeting they're getting. Let's just hope it doesn't spiral into a war of "hi" versus "hello".

    • Jazzy Quicksilver profile image

      Jazzy Quicksilver 

      6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      I never saw what the problem is with saying "Happy Holidays." I personally don't like to make assumptions about another persons religious beliefs; and with some people it seems like, if you don't automatically KNOW they're Christians (because, seriously guys, everyone is Christian or at least should be. What's this madness about religious freedom? -_- ) when you mutter a friendly greeting to them, it's an affront to decency...or something.

      On the other hand, though, it's not like some people don't get offended if you say "Merry Christmas" to them. I feel like, while yes, their 'righteous fury' has some bearing, it's still really damned stupid.

      There shouldn't really be much of any issue which phrase you used. And, I feel like when I was growing up (the 90s as well), it didn't matter nearly as much. But sorry, I'm rambling a lot.

      Er... great article!

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Nell Rose - Really, that's the way it should be. We should be able to say which ever one we want. It's definitely a case of trouble for the sake of trouble. I just wish so many people hadn't latched on to it. Thanks for the comment!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, I always say Happy Christmas, or have a great holiday, I think its just the media stirring up trouble when its not even there, I have friends from so many different faiths and they just look bewildered if I said happy holidays! lol!

    • M. T. Dremer profile imageAUTHOR

      M. T. Dremer 

      6 years ago from United States

      ChristinS - Thank you for the compliment and the comment!

      Uninvited Writer - I also saw more attacks against 'happy holidays' than 'merry Christmas', so the suggestion that it's the other way around is really baffling to me. Thanks for the comment!

      randslam - I decided to post this article now, rather than close to the holidays, because I wanted it indexed in google for Christmas 2012. Hubbers often say to get your holiday hubs out early and this one has been on my mind since before last Christmas. And, it's sad, but this issue is guaranteed to come up again this year. And I definitely agree that this was started/fueled by people who just wanted more drama. It's just a shame that so many bought into it. Thanks for the comment!

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 

      6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Christmas in May, MT? The whole fear and fury factors that we're seeing these days is, as it ever was, fueled by those who just wish to start up some drama...a good fight, etc.

      The sad truths of our society and those who claim to be "the chosen" are their lack of scholarly pursuit in the real message of various messiahs...whether it be Jesus, Buddha, Confucius or Muhammed...a message of peace and contentment.

      Happy Days, Holidays, Seasons to all...and to all...some good nights of sleep. Oops, to smart-assed?

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Exactly. The only rude people I saw this past Christmas were some Christians online who attacked anyone who said Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukaha. I actually wish people Merry Christmas generally if I do not know them and no one has ever complained or been rude about it.

      And do not get me started on those who complain about the use of Xmas when they do not even understand what it means...

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      I totally agree with this hub. I see nothing wrong with the all inclusive "Happy Holidays" and some people really do love to play the victim. Thanks for the great hub


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