For those of you who may not yet be acquainted with this courtesy, wishing friends and acquaintances in the United States a “Merry Christmas” risks being seriously politically incorrect. The correct form is a neutral “Happy Holidays.”
I am happy to say that this is one Americanism which has not crossed the pond to England. Quite possibly because no one has found an economic advantage in eliminating a merry Christmas. But I was startled to realize several times this week how much I missed that simple greeting. The owner of our local store, and even my dentist wished me a hearty Merry Christmas, and I realized how wonderful it sounded.
Strange, too, because I really don’t like Christmas, and most of the Christian myths do nothing to lift my spirits.
But Christmas was not originally a Christian holy day. It was hijacked by the Roman Church from the pagans who were celebrating the winter solstice. The Christmas tree itself came from Celtic tribes in Germany, where the evergreen tree remained green even in the midst of deep winter, and candlelight helped conquer the darkness.
And so I can’t see that wishing someone a Merry Christmas really should be politically incorrect, even if one is speaking to a Jew, a Hindu, a Muslim, or atheist.
In that spirit, I wish you the Merriest Christmas, whatever your beliefs.
(And a Happy New Year, too — though perhaps that could become a little more religiously complicated, given the various new years we celebrate around the globe.)