December 26th, 2015

From the CommUnity of Minds Archives.


What’s wrong with wishing others a Merry Christmas?

Timothy Wilken MD

Recently it has become politically incorrect to wish your fellow humans a Merry Christmas. We are supposed to use the generic term Happy Holidays to avoid religious discrimination and hurting the feelings of others.

The term Christmas comes from a contraction of two words Christ and Mass. It is believed that the first Christmas was celebrated in the 4th century AD. The term Christ refers to the coming of a messiah to save the Jewish people as foretold in the Old Testament of the Bible. The term Mass referred to a special religious ceremony of the newly created Catholic Church based on the belief that the man known as Jesus of Nazareth was this foretold Christ. The Mass ceremony centers around the sharing of bread and wine of Communion (the Eucharist) which represents the body and blood of Jesus (transubstantiation), and Christ is sacrificed (offered up) again at each mass.

Like all new religions, the early Catholic Church began accommodating the pagan practices of that time. The merrymaking and exchanging of gifts came from the festival of Saturnalia (a festival to the god, Saturn) and the date, December 25, was an adaptation of the birthday of Mithra (the sun god). The actual birth date for Jesus of Nazareth is unknown. Christmas trees, mistletoe, candles, carols and gift giving rituals – all of these Christmas traditions are of pagan or non Christian origin.

So who are we offending by wishing someone a Merry Christmas?

There are those Christian religions that are purists. They believe in Christ and Jesus of Nazareth, but are offended by the pagan contamination surrounding Christmas. This includes the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And while the Jews believe in the Old Testament chapters of the Bible, and even in the coming of Christ, they do not accept that Jesus of Nazareth was that foretold messiah so Christmas is out for them. And then there are the many religions who do not accept the Bible so the Old Testament’s foretold Christ has no meaning to them. This includes the Hindu’s, Buddhists, and Muslims. And, don’t forget the Agnostics (the existence of God is unknowable) and Atheists (God does not exist) who naturally don’t believe in Christ, and so therefore might be offended when wished a Merry Christmas. And, I am sure the reader can think of many others who may be offended that I have left out.

I find all of this rather sad.

Probably for two reasons, first I remember growing up when Christmas was a positive event–A time to celebrate family, friendship and community–A time for Peace on Earth and Good Will to All. From that perspective, I can’t see how wishing anyone a Merry Christmas can be insulting.

But secondly, and more importantly, I very much want to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. I don’t care whether he was the Christ foretold in the Old Testament or not. I don’t care if there is a mixing of pagan and christian tradition in celebrating his birth. I don’t care whether December 25th is his real birth-date or not. I just want to celebrate Jesus of Nazareth, the human being.

Jesus of Nazareth was a good and decent man. He was a synergist. He taught that we should love one another, and that we should help each other. So (Merry Christmas) and …

Happy Jesus of Nazareth Week!

Read The Golden Rule.