Skip to content

Holiday greetings and hyper sensitivity

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

I love holidays. I love being with family and friends. I enjoy the general atmosphere of friendship, caring, and fun.

I absolutely hate the pseudo-religious wars over holiday greetings.

Imagine standing in line in a store. The clerk gives a generic “Happy Holidays” to a guest, who rudely responds, “No, it’s Merry Christmas! Don’t destroy my season” or something similar. Hmm. It seems to me the clerk was merely trying to wish the guest peace, love and joy, not start a fight.

There is the other side, too. Someone says, “Merry Christmas,” and the recipient of the kind wishes gets his undies in a bunch and rudely replies, “I don’t believe in that holiday, I am a (insert other belief system here).” Yikes! All the greeter was trying to do was include the listener in a time of year that the greeter enjoys and appreciates.

Really, people, we need to stop being so irritatingly sensitive. All these things are being said with a kind intent, a desire to include you in the fun, frivolity, or even serious celebration of a time of year that is important to the person giving the greeting. You should feel desired, wanted, and loved, not offended, angry or threatened. Lighten up (both sides)!

If a Muslim says to me, “Mabrook al aid” or “Aid mubarak said,” thereby wishing me a wonderful Aid al Adha, I don’t need to respond that I am not a Muslim and get offended at her kind attempt to include me in a time of celebration that she finds meaningful and important. Instead, the proper response is, “Thank you.” It doesn’t actually hurt anything to return the greeting.

If a Jew wishes me a “Happy Hanukkah,” I have no reason to be offended. He is welcoming me to join in a celebration that he enjoys.

If a Christian wishes someone “Merry Christmas,” this is not automatically an invitation to convert, nor is it an attempt to insult, demean, or offend. She desires that you find pleasure from a holiday that he enjoys.

If a pagan wishes me a “Happy Yule” or a “Merry Solstice,” they are not trying to say that they are better or that I am worse, they are giving a greeting that has meaning for them and welcoming me to join them in a seasonal celebration that they enjoy.

If an atheist smiles and wishes me “Season’s Greetings,” they are not trying to be rude. It is more likely they don’t have a specific holiday that they celebrate, but they do want me to know that they consider me important and wish to share with me a hope for a joyous time of year.

Now, when someone says, “Happy Holidays,” they are not trying to offend anyone by excluding their holiday of choice. They are trying to be as inclusive as possible.

Bottom line for me: I wish the world would quit being so hyper-sensitive this time of year. If someone wishes you joy, using words you wouldn’t use or a holiday that you don’t celebrate, just say “Thank you” and move on. Please don’t do the exact opposite of their goal and cause a huge ruckus by complaining, arguing, or becoming bitter and rude. Oh, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me. πŸ™‚


  1. Tom Mann

    Spot on.

    Merry Xmas!

  2. Onyros

    Season’s Greetings, mate!

  3. I’m tempted to say you’re oversensitive about people being oversensitive πŸ˜‰
    But honestly, I couldn’t agree with you more! Happy Solstice!

  4. richo

    Good points and Merry Christmas. I lve in NYC where hypersensitivity is a a way of life. Something about being threatened by cultural diversity I suspect. One of the joys of our rapidly globalizing world.

  5. Thank you, and Joyeuses fΓƒΖ’Γ‚Βͺtes πŸ˜‰

  6. matthew

    To Correction: Thank you. You are correct. It is Eid Al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. Here where I live, people most often refer to it Eid Al Kebir, The Big Feast. Also, I used the French transliteration for ΓƒΛœΓ‚ΒΉΓƒβ„’Γ…Β ΓƒΛœΓ‚Β―, which is Aid…I apologize for any confusion. πŸ™‚ Eid Mobarak Said to you.

  7. Ali

    I think it would be strange to say Eid Mubarak to a non-Muslim, I guess I would go with general words like happy holiday etc…

    We also have holidays here right now, but will end very soon (next Friday or so)

    So Mathew, can you tell us where you are from and to which religion you belong(if any)?

    Thank you,

  8. matthew

    Hi Ali,

    I’m an American and a Christian, currently living in Fes, Morocco.

  9. djouallah mimoune

    now it is more clear, and i was astonished how an American know about Muslim holidays, any by the way Merry Christmas πŸ˜‰

  10. matthew

    Thank you very much!

    If it helps a bit more, I’m also a cultural researcher and writer (and I speak Arabic, which makes the research much easier).

  11. Correction

    Correction:It’s Eid Al-Adha […

    "Eid Mobarak" (blessed eid) and have a great time everyone!

    Oh, and Thank You!

  12. vorian

    Merry Christmas Matt!

  13. wow so if i understood correctly, ubuntu+guitarist+ american+ speak arabic+ arabic culture = Matt.

  14. Ali

    I don’t really want to get into your personal life but I am interested in knowing the institution that you work for. Can you tell us about it?

    And I forgot to mention, Happy Holiday πŸ™‚

  15. Brad Johnson

    Thanks for the post. Well said. Merry Christmas!

  16. matthew

    I own a small research/publishing company, Derby and Wehttam. Details of the business are on the web page. πŸ™‚

  17. human

    god is dead, happy satanmass!

  18. matthew

    LOL. Was that a troll? Either way, I’m amused.

  19. C

    I could not disagree with this post. Happy holidays!

    PS. I like your "Human test" before submitting comments.

  20. matthew

    Hi C! Thanks for the complement. πŸ™‚

  21. porterkm

    Thank you very much for your political incorrectness. πŸ˜‰ Merry Christmas to all!

  22. peter

    Hey, Merry Christmas.
    Actually it never occurred to me, that anyone could possibly be offended by someones xmas wish. I have never even heard of such thing happening. It is no longer hypersensitivity, but more likely hyperidiocy.

  23. im.Tehk

    Thank you for spreading this message Matthew and seasons greetings. I have a few curmudgeons in my family that do exactly what you described and it is saddening. Hopefully we will get past the ‘attack on santa, my religion or lack there of’ mentality this time of year in the near future.

  24. To people just joining us, I wrote this last year and have since changed my blog software. Sorry about the lack of white space in the article…that must have happened during the change. If I get time, I’ll revise for the purpose of adding some in to make this a little more readable.

  25. Okay, I added in some spaces. That is much easier on the eyes.

  26. Yann

    Thanks for this post. Living in a suburb with many turkish/germans, how often was I greeted in shops with a “Asalam ‘Alaykum” (peace on you in arabic). I find it much friendlier to reply with “Alaykum as-Salaam” (ok, or something approaching, got the spelling right thanks to wikipedia) than being offended and rude.

    I am actually quite offended by offended people πŸ™‚

    By the way, if someone in the UK greets you with “Peace on you” be sure to you reply “Piss on you too” πŸ˜‰

Comments are closed.