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Our View: ‘Happy holidays’ vs. ‘Merry Christmas’ is a tempest in a teapot

December 9, 2017 GMT

For over a decade now, the same silly debate arises at this time of year.

One camp insists that wishing someone “Merry Christmas” has a religious connotation and is offensive to non-Christians. In the name of political correctness, they strongly suggest saying “happy holidays” because the phrase encompasses recognition of all the December holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Omisoka, Yule and Bodhi Day.

The opposite camp says that sort of anxious thinking is baloney and that saying “Merry Christmas” is nothing more than wishing someone joy and good times, regardless of the person’s beliefs or background.

The simple truth is that offense is always easy to find. The folks who promote tolerance through “happy holidays” tend to vent their intolerance about a lot of things.

And granted, Americans who don’t celebrate Christmas are feeling their minority status in December. But it’s no reason to fear the word “Christmas.”

Further, it is hard to run into anyone who was ever truly offended by “Merry Christmas” — proving that the perceived offense has been vastly overstated.

Still, governments have banished nativity scenes from their properties and Christmas pageants have disappeared from public schools. Businesses often instruct their employees to avoid saying “Merry Christmas” and instead wish clients and customers “happy holidays.”

Businesses won’t risk losing a buck by possibly offending a customer, which is mostly how this “happy holidays” movement gained traction.

According to the New York Times, this tempest in a teapot is traced to the 2005 publication of a book, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse than You Thought” by John Gibson. Then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly reportedly fanned the flames with his “Christmas Under Siege” campaign. We’ll bow to the Times’ explanation, mostly because it’s as good as any.

This overblown social battle makes a mountain out of a molehill. Hopefully the ruckus will die out completely in a couple of more years, never to be heard from again.

During the coming fortnight, we’ll say and hear “Merry Christmas” repeatedly. No offense meant, and none taken. We’ll accept the greeting in the spirit in which it is given — an expression of good will and appreciation.

— Today’s News-Herald