I Said, Wish Me A Merry Christmas, Dammit! December 1, 2009

I Said, Wish Me A Merry Christmas, Dammit!

The Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign is trying to get Christians to wear buttons reading “It’s OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas” when shopping this holiday season.

A letter they ask Christians to give to store managers also lists the following statistics (PDF):

  • 97% of Americans celebrate Christmas.
  • 53% of Americans are offended when wished “Happy Holidays.”
  • 90% of Americans “know the true meaning of Christmas.”
  • 60% say they won’t shop at stores that have anti-Christmas policies.
  • 68% of Americans want to hear “Merry Christmas” specifically.

You can pick apart all those stats, but that first one stood out immediately: 97% of people celebrate Christmas? And that’s supposed to be a reason that saying “Happy Holidays” is wrong?

Nearly 20% of Americans aren’t religious. And nearly 3% of the American population consists of Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

So if any of these people are celebrating “Christmas,” it’s obviously not for Jesus-y reasons. And we certainly won’t be upset if you say “Happy Holidays” to us.

A message to retail workers:

If you notice someone wearing the button, wish them a “Merry Christmas.” Smile at them. Let them buy the stuff your store sells.

If you notice someone without a button — which is pretty much the entire population of America — wish them “Happy Holidays.” Smile at them. Let them buy the stuff your store sells.

Your job is to make the customer happy. One way to do that is to say something nice to them as they enter your store. You don’t need to waste your time trying to guess what holiday some stranger celebrates.

Personally, I won’t get offended if you say to me “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” In fact, I’ll just be thrilled that you acknowledge my existence. I think most people would feel the same. So say whatever the hell you want.

Actually, I take that back.

If you see someone with a Special Christian Button, wish them a “Happy Solstice.”

You might lose some business but the reaction on the person’s face will be well worth it. Think of it as a holiday present to yourself 🙂

(Thanks to Christine for the link!)

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  • DeafAtheist

    I don’t work in retail but if I ever do see someone wearing one of those buttons I’ll wish them a Happy Solstice instead… that would certainly put a smile on my face to see their reaction.

  • Valdyr

    53% of Americans are offended when wished “Happy Holidays.”

    53% of Americans need to man the fuck up. Or woman up, as appropriate. I know these statistics are made up, but that one could be true, y’know? It wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Jim (elbuho)

    ‘Christmas’ is just what we call the Solstice / Yule now, so I have no problem wishing people a Merry Christmas. It is what it is – the fictional birthday of a fictional character, complete with fairy story details: a star floating above a house, pointing the way, angels appearing to goat herders, er I mean shepherds, impregnation by an invisible ghost, “ya rly, Joseph!”

  • When I was a Christian, I knew plenty of fellow believers who didn’t do Christmas at all because of its pagan origins and commercial cheapening.

    And even Andy Williams sings “Happy Holidays.”

  • 60% say they won’t shop at stores that have anti-Christmas policies.

    What the hell is an “anti-Christmas policy”? How many people in the world are actually actively, openly, anti-Christmas? Has it really come to this? Is “Happy Holidays” seen as “anti-Christmas”?! Are we actually dealing with people who believe that their beliefs are threatened or attacked when others acknowledge that those beliefs are not universal?

  • Minneyar

    Nearly 20% of Americans aren’t religious. And nearly 3% of the American population consists of Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

    You can celebrate Christmas without being religious, though. Despite having “Christ” in the name, for my family it’s really just an excuse to get the family together, have a big dinner, and exchange gifts. No need to involve any religious stuff. Hey, Christians have hijacked other religions’ holidays, no reason why we can’t hijack theirs.

  • Happy Saturnalia!!!

    It’s all so bloody stupid. People who have this country tied up into a near theocracy in a lot of ways have a persecution complex. Makes no sense.

  • Christmas is only a religious holiday for a very small number of people. For the rest, it’s just a modern continuation of Saturnalia and is a winter solstice party to cheer everyone up in the dark cold of winter. And that is it’s true meaning and I bet 90% of Americans have never heard of Saturnalia.

    I’m fed up of Christians who think they own Christmas. They hijacked it, and not the Atheists, but the public in general have taken it back and the festival majors now on it’s pagan aspects, and very few do the Christian bit. Even Christians get in on the act and put up the Biblically prohibited Pagan Trees decorated in gold and silver.

  • TychaBrahe

    I invite all of you to celebrate Perihelion, which falls generally on January 3rd, but on January 2nd in the year following a leap year. Perihelion is the day when the Earth is closest to the Sun. Perihelion reminds us the wonder of astronomy and science in general, and gives us another reason to eat chocolate in the long slog between Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

    Or you can celebrate Isaac Newton’s Birthday, December 25th. Give gifts that evoke science and other forms of learning, as Newton was a polymath. And remember, if it weren’t for Isaac Newton discovering gravity, we would all have to go around strapped down to the Earth, like our ancestors who didn’t have gravity. 🙂

  • Tony

    I’m all for celebrating Christmas which has the word “Christ” in it like Easter has the name of a pagan Goddess in it. Remember that the true meaning of Christmas wears red and has a long white beard. It’s all about gift giving, commercialism and over-indulgence because the important part of any festival isn’t where it came from but what it means now.

    Any greeting or comment meant with kindness is accepted by me. I don’t mind being blessed when I sneeze although I don’t feel relieved that somebody has saved my escaping soul from the devil. If a muslim tells me Salam Allaikum I don’t say “Salam who kum?”. The fact is that I don’t care if people are superstitious, or even if they assume that I am too. Secularism is more important to me than atheism, so getting all pissy on the name of a holiday just makes me glad that sticks and stones are not in use.

  • Bill

    It’s a modern Saturnalia for me – atheist my whole life – and I have no problem calling it Christmas and wishing people a Happy Christmas. But people are offended by ‘happy holidays’? Suck it up, really

  • maddogdelta

    1. Io Saturnalia!
    2. How many “war on Christmas waargarblers” realize that there are 2 holidays celebrated within a week of each other, which was the original reason for the “Happy Holidays” greeting. It’s much simpler than “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.

  • gski

    Humbug, humbug I say.

  • TXatheist

    xmas is family time, football and gifts and next to nothing to do with religion in our extended family. However, this year my son is 6 and as UU members I asked if he also wanted gifts for Hannukah, Ramadan and Kwaanza and he said no. I explained it’s 10+ days of gifts and he chose no still. Dang stubborn xian brat (kidding) I forgot to mention solstice but maybe that will change his mind 🙂

  • Sackbut

    97% of Americans celebrate Christmas.

    Whoop-di-doo. Probably a large percentage celebrate birthdays, too, but you don’t see a campaign to wish everybody a happy birthday every day.

    53% of Americans are offended when wished “Happy Holidays.”

    These people are offended when someone offers them good will? What ingrates. They probably punch people in the face when they say “happy birthday”, too.

    90% of Americans “know the true meaning of Christmas.”

    At least they say they do. It’s about good will and fellowship and giving gifts to acknowledge the importance of other people in our lives, right? Or perhaps it’s about punching people in the face if they wish us good will?

    60% say they won’t shop at stores that have anti-Christmas policies.

    Wow, good thing there aren’t any such stores.

    68% of Americans want to hear “Merry Christmas” specifically.

    Why do their wishes get to dictate what other people say?

  • Casimir

    @magdogdelta: I’m pretty sure the phrase “Happy Holidays” started as a PC term to be more inclusive of other religions, particularly Judaism.

    Which would make it even more ridiculous. “Screw the Jews, wish me a Merry Christmas dammit!”

  • Kat

    If I hear one more person bitch about me saying “Happy holidays”, I’m going to start saying “Go to hell,” or “Fuck off,” or my personal fave, “I hate you and everything you stand for.” You know, just to mix up my insulting greetings a bit.

  • I got into a heated debate about this issue with a Fundie on my blog. I don’t get it! Isn’t it completely arrogant to say, “If you wish me Happy Holidays, I’ll be offended”? His argument (the guy on my blog) said that I was trying to re-write history by removing “Christ” from Christmas.

    Was I out of line to call him arrogant and sanctimonious?

  • Any Christian that knows even the slightest bit about their own religion knows that December 25th has absolutely no Biblical connection to Jesus, whatsoever. Which makes all this really irritating.

  • jamssx

    I really don’t care what is said. I celebrate christmas with all its pagan traditions from the tree onwards. Being from the UK, its a time I get to go home much like Thanksgiving. Anyway as we all know there is virtually nothing christian about christmas even the story is of dubious origins. And I don’t mind explaining that to people…

    I also think wishing someone a merry “x” does not require the recipient to necessarily believe or celebrate “x”. I have received divali cards. I’m not offended. If you sneeze and someone says “bless you”, that their belief not yours and I think the wishing happyness on a particular holiday is the givers belief not the recipients.

    All that said, do not ring a bell at me. I do HATE that!!

  • Sackbut

    jamssx wrote:

    I also think wishing someone a merry “x” does not require the recipient to necessarily believe or celebrate “x”. I have received divali cards. I’m not offended. If you sneeze and someone says “bless you”, that their belief not yours and I think the wishing happyness on a particular holiday is the givers belief not the recipients.

    I agree, for the most part. I don’t have any objections at all to being wished a merry Christmas or happy Thanksgiving or fortuitous Ramadan or whatever. I don’t even mind “bless you” when I sneeze, although my Catholic girlfriend is now getting used to saying “Gesundheit”. I do draw the line at expressly religious comments that, while well-meaning, not-so-subtly imply there’s something wrong with me. “May Christ have mercy on your soul” sorts of things.

  • This 25 December, we will celebrate the arrival of a very important baby boy, as we have for the last 23 years. Because it was on that day in 1986 that our second child was born.

    What, you mean there’s something else going on that day? 😉

    Seriously, if I wasn’t too lazy, I would do some research to find out when the first serious objections to “Happy Holidays”, “Seasons Greetings” etc started. They’ve been around for decades, probably a century or more. I recall them as a summary of Christmas + New Years. I’m willing to bet there was little or no objection much before 1990. It’s all about people feeling their tribal identity threatened, by no longer being unquestioned top dog.

  • Angela

    Well, if these “anti-christmas” christians were “real” christians, they might have a very different attitude … for instance, according to their bible they wouldn’t have a christmas tree as it is a graven image and a vain custom of the people. They wouldn’t be offended by “happy holidays” as holiday is a contraction of the words holy and day … is it a holy day to them or not? They also would not have a problem with the term X-mas since X is short for xristos, the greek word for christ. In fact, “christmas” as we celebrate today is largely a revival of pagan customs which is why it was not celebrated by the early americans and why “real christians” should not be concerning themselves with this secular/pagan celebration … unless, of course they would like to cancel christmas entirely.

  • Sackbut
  • TXatheist

    As a side note there is some relief. One very conservative morning talk show in Austin that also does regular traffic updates has a DJ that has finally started to say he is tired of people calling in this time of year and telling him it’s not about jc but Sol Invictus. That’s actually an improvement and more get to learn about the real meaning 🙂

  • In my mind Xmas should be the time of year when we “keep the baby and throw out the bathwater”. By that I mean keep the golden rule and throw out religion with all its gilt, control, superstition, supernatural beliefs, and bigotry.

  • I wonder whether the survey said, “Do you know the true meaning of Christmas, yes or no?” or whether it said “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” with a bunch of options. Pretty pretentious to be the arbiter of which one is the “true meaning.” I can think of several very different statements about Christmas that a Christian would agree with, which could all be considered “the meaning” of the holiday.

  • Happy Holidays includes ALL the holidays in December. If I see you ON Christmas day I’ll say Merry Christmas. If I see you on one of the days of Hanukkah I’ll say Happy Hanukkah. Same goes for Kwanzaa. If I see you on Boxing Day I’ll say Happy Boxing Day. If I see you on New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be too drunk to say much – but I will try to kiss you.

  • Greg B

    Have a Super Solstice!

  • Jerry Priori

    I bet they’d just love to be wished a “gay yuletide.”

  • I’m fed up of Christians who think they own Christmas.

    I had one actually tell me once ‘we stole christmas fair and square and we’re not giving it back’. And he was NOT joking.

  • Stephen P

    @Lagunatic: where will you be on New Year’s Eve? 😉

  • Revyloution

    If I see you on New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be too drunk to say much – but I will try to kiss you.

    Woohoo! It’s Lagunatics house for New Years! Ill bring the homebrew stout!

  • martin

    Wow a 5 year old survey where nearly the same amount of people were ok with Happy Holidays being said as Merry Christmas, and also noted that yes they say the people celebrate christmas, but how do we know thats the birth of christ christmas or the santa claus secular christmas….

  • Siamang

    The solution to this is to stop wishing anyone anything.

    “Hope you enjoy your purchases.”

  • Richard

    I feel like the Christians are making a mistake here.

    This will just serve to turn Christianity into more of a secular, commercial holiday than it already is.

    If they want a religious holiday about the birth of christ, then really, they shouldn’t be encouraging businesses to use it as an excuse to sell things to customers.

  • “This 25 December, we will celebrate the arrival of a very important baby boy. Because it was on that day in 1986 that our second child was born.”

    You know, it’s also the birthday of Cab Calloway, who saved humanity from the original sin of being unhip. I’ve been trying to get people to celebrate ‘Cabmas’ for years.

  • “merry christmas” and “happy holidays” are are just meaningless social niceties. anyone concerned with the true meaning of christmas will be too preoccupied gorging themselves, getting drunk, and enjoying each other’s company to bother with such nonsense.

    the only thing i feel for these “special christians” is a condescending pity that they are so unhappy.

  • Polly

    Everyone knows that REAL Christmas is on January 6th. 🙂

  • JD

    It’s quite amazing how much the perpetrators of Christmas in the public square are using retailers as their battleground. All that really says is that they’re giving permission, or even demanding that their beliefs be exploited as a token for the continued expansion of consumerism. I suppose that’s fine if they think that Jesus is about going into debt for gifts that might be forgotten within a month.

  • Siamang

    Hidey Hidey Ho-ho-ho!

  • Cafeeine

    60% say they won’t shop at stores that have anti-Christmas policies.

    I get angry at this type of statement, because it transparently shows the deceit in the census takers (assuming its real in the first place)

    If asked “Would you shop in a store that has anti-Christmas policies?” I, as an atheist, could say no, because I dislike discrimination of that sort. That is, if I wasn’t aware where they are coming from.

    Then they use this to justify saying “happy holidays” as an anti-Xmas policy.

    68% of Americans want to hear “Merry Christmas” specifically

    I call bullshit on that.

  • Christmas is merely the precursor to Winter-een-mas. I expect the store clerk to wish me a Happy Winter-een-mas at the end of January as well.

  • John L

    I worked in retail for a long time and once when I told a customer to have a happy holidays did they reply back, “It’s Merry Christmas! This is America”. I was dumbfounded and simply replied, “What if you don’t celebrate Christmas?” I think she might have assumed that I was not Christian at the moment and felt like she might have offended me.

  • medussa

    I call BS on the fake statistic that 53% of Americans are offended when someone wished them Happy Holidays.

    My family are all very religious, and I occasionally spend holiday time with them and their friends anyway.
    I ALWAYS wish them Happy Holidays, as that is the most honest statement possible and doesn’t imply religiosity on my side or question their beliefs on their side (there is a time and place for that and a family gathering around the Xmas tree is not it).

    I have never had anyone challenge me on wishing them Happy Holidays, or express offense in any way, I have always received a smile from anyone I’ve wished Happy Holidays to, etc.

    I don’t doubt there are a few fundies who would be offended, but wtf are they doing holiday gift shopping anyway, that’s participating in the commercialization of the holiday.

    This is simply made up to scare retailers into submission. Very christian of them, I must say.

  • Now I doubt I have lots of really religious customers (I might but somehow I think most would flee once they saw the fetus jar necklaces) but I’ve been writing Merry Squidmas on all my thank you cards. I wish Merry Christmas to the people I know who celebrate, it’s the nice thing to do. However I never assume to know what people I don’t know believe and therefore say Happy Holidays, it’s more polite to do so.

    I definitely call BS on those statistics. I think someone did some massaging of the data for that.

  • We Are The 801

    I remember when I first started hearing this nonsense about “merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” etc. I mean really, WTF? I’m 40 years old and ever since I was a kid I remember everyone saying “Happy Holidays” etc. and I’m certain that long before I was born people were saying this (including Christians of various stripes).

    Same goes for this nonsense about “X-mas” instead of “Christmas”– as if it were some conspiracy by atheists to blot out the word “Christ.” The “X” comes from the Greek “chi” (what looks like an “x”), what became a Christian symbol for “Christ.”

    What a bunch of dumbasses. They don’t even know their own religious traditions!

  • Geez, I just wrote about this. If you want to check it out, go ahead and click on my name, because I’d rather not just rewrite the essay.

    Summary: The “War on Christmas” is stupid. The Liberal Atheist and the Fundamentalist Christian in my head both agree on this.

  • Miko

    Holiday = “Holy day.” Saying holiday has a definite religious connotation every bit as much as saying Christmas does. Probably more so, since Christmas has been properly secularized. In summary, these people are idiots.

  • Liudvikas

    In what universe Christmas is not a holiday?

  • CybrgnX

    In my 20++++ years I have NEVER met a xtian that… “knew the true meaning of Christmas.”
    And seeing how 100% of Xmas is completely pagan that is not too surprising. But 100% of all the xtians I have met THINK they know something.

  • a2650415

    How about “Happy Saturnalia?”

  • In French we say “Joyeux Noël”, which doesn’t explicitly reference Christ, so I may not be in a position to judge, but still, all that nitpicking about which word to use seems pretty pointless to me. Just say whatever feels natural to you without giving it a second thought.

  • muggle

    I’m with DeafAtheist. If I see somewhere wearing that button (odds are against it), I’m gonna make a point of saying Happy Holidays just to be a booger and watch their pissed off reaction for my own amusement.

    If a clerk says merry christmas, I’m gonna smile and say happy holidays.

    Normally, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck but ever since these Christians proclaimed war on Christmas, well, I have to be at my fighting best.

  • Philip Tucker

    Oh foo! I say godammit, and o god, and thank heavens and goodness. I do not qualm at christmas.

    Could this melody
    Be sung in other countries
    By other birds?
    — Richard Wright

  • Sarah TX.

    How in hell can “Happy Holidays” be considered “Anti-Christmas”?


  • Barker

    The buttons should be helpful. Now I’ll know that anyone not wearing one doesn’t have to be wished a Merry Christmas.

  • muggle

    hover frog, now that’s a holiday I can get behind. As long as it’s not required that you be good at video games to enjoy them.

    (Can’t believe I missed that before. Gonna have to read your link at length this weekend.)

  • tom coward

    I always thought that “Happy Holidays” referred to the Christmas and New Year celebrations, since they are only a few days apart, and are sort of the beginning and end of a mostly seamless celebration. Guess I’ve been bashing Christians all these years with out meaning to!

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