There was a time when almost all Americans wished people “Merry Christmas” throughout the month of December. Everyone knew that the holiday to be celebrated was Christmas! It was Jesus’ birth that changed the world forever, even changing the way we count years. Read: Should We Use BC/AD or BCE/CE for Dating Years? (B.C./A.D. or B.C.E./C.E.) However now, many people celebrate the month of December by greeting others with, “Happy Holidays.” They often give no thought to what the holidays really mean.
Times Have Changed
According to a Pew Research Council Survey 90% of all Americans— and 95% of Christians — say they celebrate Christmas. Yet only 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday. It’s reported that 56% of US adults also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend. And sadly, 52% of Americans now say it doesn’t matter how stores greet their customers [“Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”].
So Why “Happy Holidays?”
I suggest that“Merry Christmas” was replaced with “Happy Holidays” when the media brought the world into our homes, when political correctness gained momentum, and when other world religions began to compete for the holiday season. Such things have been happening for decades and have increasingly contributed to changing people’s minds from biblical thinking, with a biblical worldview, to worldly focus and ideas, with a secular humanism worldview. (Read more about worldviews here: What is a Worldview? Can it answer life’s questions?)
Other December Holidays
Throughout the world, there have always been other religions that celebrate a December holiday. There’s Judaism’s Hanukkah, the African American celebration of Kwanzaa, the Japanese Ōmisoka (New Year’s Eve), Wicca’s Solstice (pagan), the Zoroastrian Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathustra), and close to the December holidays are Islam’s Mawlid el-Nabi (mid-November) and Buddhism’s Rohatsu (Bodhi Day, late January).
As we have become more “global,” especially with the far reach of the internet, the greeting “Happy Holidays” is meant to be inclusive. It’s not surprising this has happened. And it’s not necessarily wrong. Other religions certainly have the right to express a greeting centered on their holiday. But I suggest that, while it is not necessarily wrong to wish “Happy Holidays,” Christians should not do so. We know the importance of Jesus’ coming to earth in a manger in Bethlehem. We know the true reason for the season. And we know the light and the life, the truth and the hope, that He brought into our world. Furthermore, we have been commissioned by Jesus to share the good news with all people. And the good news is not just Jesus’ saving grace. It’s also that God gave us His Son when Jesus was born.
Holiday Hope and Joy
When we wish people a “Merry Christmas,” let us remember that our hope and joy are not found in having a happy day or a Merry Christmas. Our hope and joy are found in our Merciful Saviour.
As Christians, wishing others “Merry Christmas” can open the door to a spiritual conversation. If someone responds, “Happy Holidays,” ask if the person celebrates Christmas? It might just give you an opportunity to share that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). And that God sent His Son Jesus into our world, as a small baby in a lowly manger, not that the world might be condemned but that “the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).
It is our privilege, and our duty, to tell the world about the first advent of Jesus.
Good News for All
Jesus came for all people — for every pagan and every secular humanist, every Jew and every Muslim, every Buddhist and every Hindu, and every other religious group and non-religious person (Read: Good Tidings for All Men and Women). Jesus is the only true God, the only Mighty Saviour, and the only one who can redeem mand and give eternal life. People from every other religious affiliation. as well as those who have none, need to know Him.
December is all about remembering the first coming of Jesus to save us from our sins. But the Christmas holidays should also be a reminder that Jesus will come again. In His first coming, Jesus came as a Lamb, the perfect sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind. In His second coming, He will come in judgment to judge the world of sin; and to restore all things to the way God intended and created in the Garden.
Share the Good News
***Be quick to wish people a “Merry Christmas.” And then ask, “Do you know what Christmas is all about?” Or inquire, “Do you know why I said ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ to you?”
Be ready to share the good news of this season. Tell everyone about Jesus’ saving grace. And tell them how they can come to know Jesus and receive eternal life. (To prepare yourself with a gospel presentation, visit our Salvation Page)
If you are speaking to a Christian, remind them of the joys of knowing Jesus and the gifts He has already given them (Check out our newest book. It’s all about our inheritance in Christ Jesus ~ Room with a View of Eternity)
During the month of December make your greeting one of spiritual importance and sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Pet 3:15)
The Season of Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas)
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- A Christmas Morning Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, performed by Casting Crowns
- Mary’s Child — from the movie, A Christmas Wish
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- What If You Had Been There When Jesus Was Born? (video)
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- Christmas Trivia Fun
- Songs of Christmas Series: Away in a Manger; Mary, Did You Know? Rose of Bethlehem; Good Christian Men Rejoice; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; I Wonder As I Wander; What Child Is This? The First Noel In the Bleak Midwinter (a golden oldie)
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