Is it okay to wish someone you don’t know, who may not be Christian, a “Merry Christmas”? This is a debate that seems to come up with increasing frequency during the holidays. It has further been exacerbated by some right-wing religious zealots who believe that there’s a War on Christmas that their right to celebrate the birth of Jesus (and, subsequently, tell everyone about it) is under attack.

Of course, it’s not true—not by a long shot. In fact, if anything, we know that the religious right is really good at making up things to be outraged about that aren’t actual issues (fake news!). So just to be clear, there is no and has never been a War on Christmas, though Donald Trump wants you to believe that he has fought and won the war.

Someone’s president and his administration are clearly in La La Land. And, sadly, it’s neither the first nor last time. So we’ll just let their followers sit around and praise Trump for saving Christmas or whatever nonsensical thing he’s trying to take credit for doing.

In the meantime, the holidays do offer us a chance to think about the ways some of us feel comfortable making assumptions about people’s religious beliefs or practices and the impact of it. Julia Ioffe, a writer for GQ, recently offered her thoughts on the subject:

Personally, I’ve had the privilege of never having to think much about it. I grew up in a family that always celebrated Christmas, no matter how religious we were—there were times that we were not. Sometimes we went to church regularly, sometimes we didn’t go for several years and I also went to Catholic school for high school. So religion was an infrequent part of my life. My grandmother, a lifelong devoted Catholic, still goes to church every week. Christmas was always a holiday we celebrated, not so much for the religiosity as the ritual behind it (and even as a grown-up, the decorations are still my very favorite thing).

But, in an increasingly diverse country where we are having more and more intercultural conversations, many of us recognize that not everyone celebrates Christmas (or holidays at all). So, what’s the best practice around acknowledging the holidays with strangers? Or even people you know?

I usually opt for saying “Happy Holidays” since I understand that there are many different holidays celebrated around the world between November and January. This Twitter user pretty much sums up my strategy:

Trump and his thuggish band of enablers and supporters want us to believe that the people in the majority are somehow oppressed. This extends well beyond Christianity and Christmas but is certainly exemplified this time of year by their ongoing need to force Christmas greetings on everyone.

In the spirit of inclusion (and because they hate diversity and inclusion more than anything), it’s worth at least thinking about how we acknowledge celebrations and holidays (or not) this time of year.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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