I think I was almost fired today.

All I did was simply wish our secretary a Merry Christmas... and she absolutely freaked. She stared at me for a second and said, "What?" in this voice that said, "How dare you speak that babble to me!"

She got up from behind her desk and stormed over to me, her red-dyed hair looking like flames from the Devil, Himself. She poked a fat finger at my chest and told me if I ever uttered those words towards her again, she would file a harassment suit against me and my ass would be out on the street...

I found it kind of amusing that this normally gentle Jewish yenta would blow up over an attempt to spread a little joy for the holidays. Would it have really been that difficult to politely correct my mistake? I mean, after all, its not like my intent was to get her panties in a twist or make that vein on her forehead stand out. I'm not the kind of person.

Its become rapidly apparent to me, talking with my fellow co-workers about my encounter, that some people are so into their religion, that they will almost consider it a personal attack against them if you say something that goes against their belief. (including the spelling of their holidays)

I respect the fact that people have religions and they believe in them. What I don't respect are people that have religions and are so closed-minded, that any utter of another belief or religion will set them off. Those people need to chill the hell out.

Call me crazy, but I doubt their chosen god would be very happy with them going off on someone else with opposing views...

Afternote: Let it be known to all who read this from now on, that I am, myself, an atheist and don't celebrate Christmas. I do, however, like to spread the occasional holiday cheer because its something that tends to make people feel good. I wasn't bashing any religion in this node.... so stop /msg'ing me already!

Would you believe that after I came back to my desk, an hour after I wrote this node, five messages from angry Jews were waiting for me?

Well, being a Jew, I can sort of understand her reaction.

My self, I would have probably not reacted like this, but. Christmas is a rather difficult time in some cases. Last week I wanted to get all my friends nice holiday cards before I left campus. I went to the bookstore at the fine institution for clinically insane that is University of Maryland. I looked around for one of those packaged card deals, and hmmmmm... I found one Hanukah card set, about 20 Christmas card sets and NO "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" CARDS! I was slightly offended, I am not very religious, but I am very Jewish. And I am proud of being that. I am not about to wish people Merry Christmas; however, I am not going to wish my non Jewish friends "Happy Hanukah". Now, what am I supposed to do? I went back to my dorm very upset. Christmas is a wonderful holiday, and though I don't have anything against it, I just don't believe in Christ, like I said, I am very Jewish. Christmas is so widely celebrated that sometimes it makes us feel left out. When you wish a Jewish person Merry Christmas, you are implying that we believe in Christ, we don't. That is the reason why my ancestors were kicked around all over Europe. Christmas makes us feel alienated, not part of the big picture. While everyone is putting up Christmas trees, we light candles; Christmas morning is just another morning to us. Perhaps wishing Merry Birth of Christ, you brought up painful memories of having to explain to all your friends when you are little why your house lacks Christmas lights, and there is no tree. Next time, do what I do, wish everyone Happy Holidays, it's a little anal, but more politically correct.

Oh, and by the way, 'yenta' is a bit of an offensive term for a Jewish woman, especially coming from a non-Jewish person.

Let us now take a moment of silence for the Christian religion, that has through the centuries co-oped various traditions of assorted pagan religions to make it easier to convert them; for it is now falling prey to its own methods. Christmas now is a Hallmark Holiday that has been co-oped by capitalism, along with its cousins Halloween and St. Valentine's day. Its original meanings of green and birth are being lost to the green of the all powerful dollar. The original plain white ornaments on the tree representing Holy Eucharist, now dangle in in the colors of gold and silver of precious metals. The lights on the Christmas tree of old now hang in almost every window, much to the dismay of the power companies (at least in Northern California 2000, where people are urged not to turn them on until after 7pm because of power shortages). Saint Nicholas would be rolling in his tomb to find millions of children world wide sitting on the laps of images of him, professing their greed to whoever can hear.

To the various minority religions out there, have pride in your religious holidays, be it the festival of lights, or the simple winter solstice. Be proud that your holidays have not fallen to the great devourer - secular capitalism.

Frankly, being Jewish by birth, I *do* find it offensive when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. I'm usually just utter a "Happy Chanukah" in return, utterly confusing whomever addressed me. But there are some who don't take it as well as I do, and they're more than justified for it.

Here you have a holiday in Christmas so mainstream that it's almost thought of as a secular holiday, as the above writeup suggests. The problem is, whatever Hallmark would have you believe about it, it is not a secular holiday. Spreading a little holiday spirit? No. You're spreading a little Christian spirit.

Most Jews would never wish a gentile a Happy Chanukah, and for good reason--it just wouldn't make any sense to do so, seeing how they don't celebrate that particular holiday. Most Christians, on the other hand (label this as a generalization if you must, but it's the truth), don't even think about whether the person they're about to wish a Merry Christmas to celebrates that particular holiday. Therein lies the contradiction. The majority's right to homogenize, I suppose.

And if you walked around getting wished a Happy Chanukah as much as we walk around getting wished a Merry Christmas, seeing Chanukah commercials on television as much as we see Christmas commercials, watching Chanukah movies as much as we see Christmas movies, and listening to Chanukah songs on the radio as much as we hear Christmas songs, I suspect you'd start to get more than a little upset too.

Not to sound like an advocate for political correctness or anything, but if you're not sure of a person's religion, simply say Happy Holidays. It solves a great many problems.

The reverse of this happened to me today. I am Catholic, as is my boss. We were off at a client's, and at the end of the day we all were discussing when the next time we could get together for the next portion of the job. I made a comment that I wouldn't be here next week (as I'm heading home for the holidays, then off to college), and my boss said something to the effect of "Oh yeah, for Hanukah" and we finished our meeting. As we left, the client wished me "a Happy Hanukah."

Now, I am fairly open to many religions and actually would wish my friends back in high school a happy/merry just-about-every-religious-holiday each year. In fact, my best friend and I used to compete on who could name more holidays than the other. I've been wrestling with my own beliefs for a while now, and am starting to get to a point where I could explain what I believe, and also think myself a rather tolerant person.

All I could to was turn around and walk out. I was too stunned to do anything else.

Christmas as we know it is really noting more than an amalgamation of many secular and pagan holidays. It was standard procedure around the turn of the last millenium, for the emerging catholic church to kind of shuffle their observances to coincide with the local pagans. It's a nice bloodless way to increase the rate of conversion.

The holiday that most americans and europeans now celebrate as christmas has very little to do with the actual birth of christ, and more to do with the observance of the themes that the birth of christ may have introduced.

While you may feel justified in a militant response to a "merry christmas" if you aren't christian, you are in fact, only amplifing the sort of unjustified unpleasentness that you are accusing others of. It would be just as easy, as RimRod pointed out, to reply with a quiet "Happy Channukah."

Christmas really isn't about christ anymore. Ask any group of toddlers who christmas is about, Santa or Jesus? I would bet money that most would answer Santa and would be unaware of any relationship at all to christ. Christmas is about presents now, christmas is a season, not a holiday. A "merry christmas" is tantamount to wishing a happy new year, which by the way is a holiday in many places and doesn't always fall in the Julian January.

The christians are the ones who should be offended, it was their holiday that was perverted.

To be honest, I think it is ridiculous to be offended by someone wishing you Merry Xmas, regardless of your religion - frustrated maybe, but not offended.

Let's have a look at why the majority of people wish other people Merry Xmas. I for one am not religious but I still wish people Merry Xmas - why? Because the Xmas is that time of year when people think about other people more, it is a time of celebration, when families come together, when people show a little bit more charity, there are holidays, people are in good spirits (for whatever reasons) - ie good things (tm). Sure, there are the religious overtones - ie the birth of Christ - but I think that to many people, and more and more in recent times, Xmas is losing that significance.

When I wish people Merry Xmas, I am saying 'I hope you have an enjoyable, fun and relaxing Xmas break.' I'm not saying 'Listen you stupid Jew, it's Xmas, a Christian religious holiday, I hope you like it shoved down your throat - ha ha ha ha'.

I can understand how Jews (and other religions for that matter) can feel left out and I would think that frustration would be the appropriate description of that feeling.

However, to fly off the handle and act offended and threaten harrassment suits seems way way over the top. What about explaining the concept of 'Hanukah' to the other person? I for one have never heard of it. If I did, I would start saying Happy Hanukah to Jewish people instead of Merry Xmas. To act all pissed off smacks to me of religious intolerance and stiff neckedness (if there is such a phrase).

One's response to supposed insults should be with the same intentions that the 'insulter' made the comment. ie in this case, the 'insulter' had good intentions behind his Merry Xmas and so a polite reminder that the person was Jewish should have been the response.

Merry Xmas (in a non-theological way) to all E2ers!!

I have an interesting take on this since I am a Catholic who used to celebrate Hanukah.

What the heck are you talking about?

My next door neighboors used to be Jewish (they have since moved away). As a courtesy, they would invite us over for ethnic foods, and to take part in their religious customs as an observation. As such, I have a great respect for Judiasm. I used to celebrate a Jewish holiday, not for the symbolism, but for the people, and the fun of being welcomed into another culture. Not to get all sappy, but holidays are about being with friends, and celebrating the important things in life, whether for you they be religious or not. Having spent religious holidays with people not in your own religion is an awesome experience.

So all I ask is that if some Jewish (or Muslim, or Wiccan, or other non-Christian) observer gets wished a Merry Christmas, please respond:

And a Happy Hanukah to you too

No one's holiday is right or wrong. Wish them a form of blessing in your own way. Words, after all, have more in context than in content.
I used to be a Christian. I was a Catholic. I used to celebrate both "Christian" and "Jewish" holidays (Judaism being the root of Christianity). I then realized how corrupt and manmade I found the Catholic religion to be. I then converted to a weird modern church for nearly ten years. After all that was when I realized that I had never been to a church that wasn't corrupt or false. That's when I became a deist and I now let people wish me whatever happy thing they want for two reasons:

  • Especially Christmas, but yes even Hanukah has become extremely commercialized. So much that they have no real meaning to me anymore. I know there are people who take Christmas and/or Hanukah very seriously but most really don't. Atleast not big corporations.
  • No matter what holiday it is, as long as they are wishing you a happy one, it is good intentioned. C'mon, just be polite, and respect their religion. I still attend mass with my parents when I visit them. Just to be polite an respect their religion .
All these writeups about people getting upset by a mere Merry Christmas made me think about how curious our world is.

Famine in Africa, abandoned kids roaming the streets in South America, Wars everywhere, violence, urban chaos in the big cities, dirt poor kids selling drugs, incurable diseases, people getting killed for nothing, stupid guerrillas, serial killers, rapists, racists, wife beaters, child molesters...

And some people get upset because someone, in good will, wished them a Happy Chanukah or a Merry Christmas.

If you get upset easily, my congratulations: You are living a life away from really serious problems.

If there's such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a sponge.

Sorry for the rant

I personally am offended at your taking offense at my offending you by wishing you a merry Christmas. I'm also offended by MoJoe's sweeping generalisations about Jews, and the other sweeping generalizations about Christians. The following things also offend me: ...and hordes of other things I'm too offended by to add to this write-up. I would like to suggest that we therefore remove all offensive material, especially those things that offend me. What's that? Great, now I'm offended that you're offended by things I'm not offended by. Fine, let's remove all offensive writings, sayings, speech, and anything else you can think of. Create a node, we'll draw up a whole big list...

My solution to the whole problem is to not even bother. I consider the issue of holiday greetings, and holidays in general, to be moot. That's because in my own mind I have rationalized for myself that they are.

Rather than punctuate my life with moments of cruelty intersparsed with moments of exaggerated kindness, I cruise mostly through the polite middle. Noone cares that I didn't wish them a Merry Fucking Christmas because they already know I give a shit about them. Each day I ask how the people I care about are doing. I am happy for their triumphs, and offer consolation for their problems. That combined with polite behavior, tolerance for others, and a concerted effort to be nice and considerate to everyone I can leaves me content in my human interactions. I see no point in putting additional emphasis on such activities around holiday times. I feel no need to convince people I care. If they still doubt I care after the rest of the year, then oh well; in my mind that means they still have some personal issues to work out. It's not my fault.

Esentially, if you wished everyone a good day each day, all year long, and never tried to make anyone feel sad...then there's no need to do anything special to bolster people's feelings during a holiday. It seems like a straightforward solution to me. Instead of grappling with the problem of how to give that greeting, just remove the need to give a greeting at all. Just wish everyone a happy life all year round.

I do wish I'd stop running into broken people who doubt my sincerity, though. When I say "I'm sorry, that sucks," I mean it literally. Gawd! And the more broken a person is, the more I want to be good to them. But, I digress...

On the other hand, I'm also very devoid of sentiment for traditional things. Graduations aren't important to me. I don't really care about getting presents on Christmas or my birthday. One of my best friends brings me a shotglass from each exotic business trip he makes, regardless of the time of year he goes. That's more important to me because it proves he actually likes me as a friend, and it's more genuine. Holidays to me seem like everyone just collectively going through the motions. I feel the same way about most traditionally sentimental moments. They're artificial and too disingenuous for my tastes.

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