For about 20 years or so now, my mom has owned a Hallmark store. I would work there when I was in high school and during college breaks. Obviously, I would work more at Christmas time. On several occasions there, I would have conversations with other employees about the appropriate phrase to say to customers after ringing them up. Some insisted on saying “Happy Holiday” (or something similar), and claimed that saying “Merry Christmas” would be offensive. I, being the proud (and stubborn) Christian that I am insisted on saying “Merry Christmas,” and a few others did with me. People did notice, and some even commented. Interestingly, I never once heard someone say they were offended. Instead, I kept hearing people (Christians, or at least nominally) tell me how much they appreciated that, and they couldn’t stand hearning “Happy Holidays.”
Christians seem to think that they’re losing something in a culture that says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” To give another example, just check out this new song by the Christian Singing Group “Go Fish” called “Christmas With a Capital C.”
The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it’s just time for Christians to give this fight up. Maybe it would be better for the sake of our witness simply to recognize that American culture, broadly speaking, does not celebrate Christmas. Christmas is a holiday marked by worshiping God for sending his Son, Jesus Christ into the world. Our culture celebrates “The Holiday Season,” a holiday that’s not Christmas, but happens to be celebrated at the same time of the year. Maybe instead of insisting that our neighbors and local businesses acknowledge our celebration of Christmas, it’s time for us to acknowledge that our culture is no longer interested in celebrating Christmas per se. Then we can respond missiologically rather than by fighting a culture war and longing for a return to Christendom and the cultural privileges that came with it.
For the half dozen or so of you who read this, I”m curious to know your thoughts. Has the American “Holiday Season” become something entirely different from Christmas? Should Christians acknowledge this? If so, is it ok for Christians to celebrate both Christmas and Holiday Season, or should Christians reject the alternative?
And since WordPress now lets you create polls: