Merry Christmas

That’s right. I said it.

“Merry Christmas!”

And to all those who think that’s a cunning shibboleth of religious identity, let me add, “Happy holidays!”

I’m not going to spend much time on this – it’s a day for family and food and love, not online rants. But I’ve had one too many Pointed Comments, in Facebook and elsewhere – people Pointedly wishing me Merry Christmas. Or, just as silly, Pointedly wishing me Happy Holidays.

So let me lob my own two bits in.

I was raised in an essentially non-religious household. We occasionally went to church on Christmas with my grandparents, so I knew the historical source of the holiday. But beyond that, and the odd lyric in a carol, its mythical origin was not part of the day.

And we still called it “Christmas”.

So I’m putting my foot down. I am an atheist; I celebrate the season in an entirely nonreligious way. And I call it Christmas. That’s my tradition, and I have as much right to it as any indignant Christian.

Oh, and while I’m venting, can I just ask how on Earth the phrase “Happy Holidays” is anti-religious? Is it possible that these folks who are so keen on being seen to defend tradition have not considered the traditional (ie, etymological) origin of the word “holiday”: “holy + day”?

For me, to refer to today as “Christmas” is no more an implicit plug for Christianity than a reference to Wednesday is a plug for the ancient pagan god Woden of Britain, or eating cereal is a form of homage to the Roman goddess Ceres. (Nor, despite my somewhat tetchy comment above, do I feel that the word “holiday” retains any particularly religious connotations.)

Anyway, whatever you are doing today, whether you are celebrating a religious festival, a non-religious gathering, or if you’re just spending a regular day, I wish you a good one.

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