Why not ‘merry Christmas’?

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As I slipped the receipt into my coat pocket and walked out of the third or fourth store where cheerful clerks had noticeably stopped short of responding to my Christmas wishes, my daughter whispered to me, “Dad, they aren’t allowed to say merry Christmas.”  

She had sensed what by now had become basically bewildered disappointment.  

For about a week, I had been trying to arrange time to shop for some gifts for my wife with my children. I had found an opening with one daughter and we had grabbed a bite of supper together and we were now wandering through the Village mall, Christmas shopping.

My daughter’s remark caught me off guard and left me wondering how these young people could be instructed to avoid using the simple warm greeting that so many of us take for granted and spout off countless times over the holidays. Are there really people out there that would actually find such a greeting offensive? Political correctness gone awry once again, in my humble opinion, but I would think in the opinion of many others as well.

Just the night before our premier had been on television announcing the sanction of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development. Anyone who was watching will likely recall her proud inspirational statements about our forebears and how we have developed as a people. She spoke of the qualities of the people of this province with such fervour, espousing our will, our determination and our unique culture. I wonder what our forebears would think of our will and determination today in not being able to express our heartfelt wishes during the holiday season. Imagine trying to explain to someone who lost a son on the shores of Gallipoli or in the mud of Beaumont Hamel that we shouldn’t use the term merry Christmas, as we might offend someone.  

How can we even contemplate that this is somehow respectful of others’ beliefs as we attempt to mask our own?

At this time I work in a very multicultural setting surrounded by people from all over the world from a wide variety of ethnic groups and religions. As a matter of fact, that is one of the features of my job that I find most interesting and pleasurable.  

Speaking with and getting to know these people, their backgrounds, their cultures and their religious beliefs is not just educational, it is most often fascinating. Until very recently, our history in this part of the world had not exposed us to much cultural variation outside of some religious differences within an almost exclusively Christian population.

Are we that unsure of ourselves as we are introduced to a more multi- cultural society that we have to hide our Christian beliefs in the cupboard — something to be ashamed of?

I really do not believe for one minute that people of other faiths are insulted or hurt by the expression of Christmas greetings from store clerks or anyone else. If they are then they certainly misunderstand the intention as it is offered in the most innocent and genuine manner.

As my co-workers and friends of all backgrounds head off home, wherever home is, to celebrate the holiday season or to simply relax and enjoy the time off work while those of the Christian faith celebrate their many customs and traditions that bring us together at this time of year, I would like to genuinely wish one and all a very merry Christmas and hope that everyone else out there has the courage of their convictions and pureness of intentions to do the same.


G. Scott Gillis writes from St. John’s.

Geographic location: Gallipoli

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Recent comments

  • Janice
    January 06, 2013 - 18:21

    Scott, very well said!

  • Herb Morrison
    December 28, 2012 - 10:22

    Peter, as I stated in an earlier post; Advent is the Christian observance of the birth of the Messiah, in the person of the baby Jesus Christ. The only factors which the Christian observance of Advent and the secular Celebration, which we refer to as Christmas have in common, are the display of good will and the desire for peace on earth. Christians do not have a monopoly on the gift giving, the desire for peace on earth or either the ability or the desire to display good will toward others, during this season of the year or at any other time of the year, for that matter. Sadly, too many Christians, in my opinion, do have a tendency for the self-righteousness evidenced by your ill-advised and Biblically unsubstantiated claim that Christians have a monopoly on the celebration of Christmas. As I stated earlier Advent is the Christian observance Christmas, while incorporating some principles of Advent, Christmas is primarily a secular celebration. Both Christian and non- Christian should be welcome to the observance of Advent. As a professing Christian, I participate in the celebration of Christmas while regarding it as the secular celebration that it is. I have reservations about excesses which are a part of the celebration of Christmas for some living in contemporary society, but I am all for both the spirit of good will and the desire for peace which are common to both the observance of Advent and the celebration of Christmas. On the other hand, Peter, the kind of self-righteous attitude reflected in your claim that Christians have a God-given monopoly on either the desire for peace or the spirit of giving which are common to both the observance of Advent and the secular celebration of Christmas, is something which I, as a Christian can do without.

    • PETER
      December 31, 2012 - 14:46

      WOW Herb, you sure read a lot in a small comment. I never said any of those things, the letter above is about why not Merry Christmas. The complaint of many is that people are no longer aloud to say Merry Christmas, and many are no longer aloud to set up Nativity scenes, don't know where you figure I said anything about only Christians being self righteous or anything else including having any kind of monolopy. Everyone I know celebrates it including a friend who is Jewish and one who is Seik, and neither get offended by the term "Merry Christmas". You are an intelligent man Herb so I am shocked at this rant. As you state there in no bibilically claim to Christmas at all, nor is there about advent, these are all man made if you want to be a purest, even the dates we set are incorrect, the first century church never celebrated Jesus Birth, nor even the second century church, and when it started to be celebrated even the Roman Church was against it. I too have reservations on the excesses and do not participate in them in any way. In closing Herb, I never took a selfrightous attitute, all I stated is that it is celebrated in Christianity, nothing more, it's about the birth of Christ, it was started with Christian roots, if others wish to celebrate it I have no problem, you really do read too much in too little, and you "seem" to have no regard for the whole history of Christmas.

  • Karen Dawe
    December 28, 2012 - 08:15

    I'm a Christian and Anglican....and I'm a Merry Christmas person. (Christ)mas is about the birth of Jesus and if it means the same, then why the change!

  • Herb Morrison
    December 21, 2012 - 17:59

    Sorry Peter, you are mistaken. Christmas is a secular celebration, which I , as a Christian have no problem celebrating. Any celebration which encourages people to show any semblance of consideration for one another is fine with me. However, as a Christian I observe Advent, the birth of the Messiah, in the person of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I do not claim, as some Christians do, that I have a monopoly on celebrating during what has become known, in recent times as the Holiday Season. I respect the right of any person to observe the Holiday Season in whichever manner they deem appropriate.

    • a business man
      December 22, 2012 - 17:53

      well said

    • PETER L
      December 22, 2012 - 22:37

      Sorry Herb, no matter what or how you celebrate the season, Christmas is a Christian celebration, it is celebrated in churches all over the world, and has been for many centuries as a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It may fall on the wrong date, I'm sure you are aware of the reason for the date, but it is still a Christian celebration. The rest of the week, ending with New Year, and some celebrating "Old Christmas Day" on January 6th may be secular, but I fail to see how a day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ as our Saviour could be anything but religious.

  • politically incorrect
    December 21, 2012 - 13:45

    Why not Merry Christmas? Because not everyone celebrates Christmas. Seems simple enough.

    • david
      December 21, 2012 - 14:56

      Not everyone wants to "have a nice day", or agrees that "this weather is really something" either.....but idiots like you don't make a federal case out of it. So here you go: Have a completely miserable rest of your life.

    • Too Funny
      December 22, 2012 - 16:51

      "Have a completely miserable rest of your life." Or more commonly as "have a David life."

  • really
    December 21, 2012 - 12:16

    "Happy Holidays" is not a replacement for "Merry Christmas". Christmas is not the Holiday season. It is one of several holidays in this period that includes New Years, Boxing day, Hanukkah, etc. If someone says Happy Holidays then they are including all the holidays in this period including Christmas. If you prefer to say Merry Christmas then you are excluding the other holidays which could offend those that do not celebrate Christmas but do celebrate the other holidays.

    • PETER L
      December 21, 2012 - 15:12

      TO REALLY, you are wrong on this, Christmas is just that, it's not New Year, Hanukkah or anything else, where ever did you get that? It's a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, nothing more, and that is how it started many centuries ago. All those other days you mention are around that date yes, but Christmas is just that, the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. All those other days are for other reasons, Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration that happens to be around the same time, Christmas is a Christian celebration.

  • Anna
    December 21, 2012 - 12:06

    Scott, stuff like this keep the Federal Goverment employees of Human Rights employed, they think up this crap to justify their jobs. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  • Julius
    December 21, 2012 - 12:06

    Merry Saturnalia everyone.

  • Jay
    December 21, 2012 - 12:05

    To Yeah but.....GIVE ME A BREAK!!! This country, and the people in it, are more than willing to give all faiths and cultures the repect they're due. It's people like you, pretending they care, who actually give a totally misleading perception of what's actually happening.The politically correct Facists who want to censor everybody who doesn't share their opinions do far more damage than somebody wishing someone else a simple Merry Christmas. I see lots of people of all faiths and cultures working in hospitals, food outlets, and other places on Christmas. Most of them would be better off without your BS.

    • Say
      December 21, 2012 - 12:19

      Yes, better for them to choke on your fascist BS.

  • yeah but
    December 21, 2012 - 10:31

    Did you notice that? You get to enjoy your holiday season while your coworkers of differing faith get to enjoy time off. You seemed to have not noticed that your coworkers do not get to enjoy their holiday season (whenever that may be). Instead, they probably worked their holiday season but get to enjoy time off due to your christmas. And what do you do? Complain that some people do not share your christmas cheer.

    • PETER L
      December 21, 2012 - 12:18

      All my cooworkers, and all my friends are Christian.

    December 21, 2012 - 10:26

    Christmas is all about Jesus Christ birth, nothing else. How it got to go in a few short years about HIS birth to what it is today is beyond all Christianity and Christian belief. If society tried to change a Muslim or a Hindu Religious holiday there would be riots all over the world, so why change this one to a secular holiday. It's a Christian celebration so keep it that way, it's Merry Christmas, not happy holiday. It's called Christmas after the name of Christ, so we should keep Christ in Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone, and remember it's all about Christ first and foremost, everything else is secondary.

  • RJ
    December 21, 2012 - 09:48

    Christ is disgusted with Christmas. The spirit of the season has nothing to do with him.Bugged eyed shopper's ready to run you down with the cart. You just got the last parking space in front of a foul looking man giving you the finger.Drunken ppl behind the wheel after the company xmas party. The spirit of the season...be safe for it is not a compassionate,kind,or selfless time....by all accounts Christ was.

  • mom
    December 21, 2012 - 09:15

    I have to agree with you that we have gone too far with political correctness. Merry Christmas!

  • Kathleen
    December 21, 2012 - 09:01

    I refuse to say Happy Holidays to anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs. I am Catholic and celebrate Christmas. Merry Christmas to all - like it or lump it.