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The Christmas controversy

David Epps's picture

Another Christmas has come and gone and with it, at least for another year, the so-called controversy of the greeting, “Merry Christmas.”

Some are apparently uncomfortable with the phrase being used as a common exchange of pleasantries, preferring instead, the generic, “Happy Holidays.” I realize that the season contains other significant events both religious and secular. However, let’s get real.

This past week, on Dec. 25, I would imagine that 90 percent of all businesses were closed. I would also surmise that 90 percent of all employed people had the day off.

If that were true on any other day, it would be considered an economic and political catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions. But, on Dec. 25, it is considered normal.
For the most part, traffic was non-existent. Anyone wishing to drive during what would normally be considered rush hour could easily do so and the streets were virtually deserted. No one went to school — not to elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or graduate school.

Except for a skeleton crew of emergency personnel, the government was closed. Local governmental offices? Closed. State government? Closed. Federal offices? Closed. Congress went home and even the President took the day off. Doctor’s offices were closed as were dentists’ offices, lawyers’ offices, and ... well, everybody, nearly, was closed. A few drug stores and convenience stores were open but not much else.

No, all this occurred because society, the church and, for that matter, the entire world recognizes that Dec. 25 is the traditional (though not literal) birthday of Jesus Christ.

Almost all holiday traditions stem from this fact, though some pagan traditions have been incorporated into the Christmas celebration. Not only that, nearly all the nation, every man, woman, and child, regardless of religious affiliation or lack of same, benefit from this long-held belief.

Oh, some people try to change the labels and call Christmas vacation, “winter break.” Others insist that the traditional foliage is a “holiday tree.” But most ignore the silliness and just enjoy Christmas.

In fact, one could argue that, if not for the birth of Christ, the economy would be in chaos. “Black Friday,” that all important shopping day that follows Thanksgiving, which often determines whether a business fails or survives, is utterly dependent on people shopping for — you guessed it — Christmas.

And Christmas is, has always been, and always will be about Jesus.

So, next year, if someone desires to wish me a “Happy Holiday,” I am fine with that. But I will return the sentiment with my own personal and deeply heartfelt, “Merry Christmas.” Because, like it or not ... It really was and will be all about Jesus.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. ( He is the bishop of theDiocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at


Dillik's picture

Mr. Epps, I understand that as a Christian in a majority-Christian area, you find it easy and reassuring to disregard all other faiths and say it's all about Jesus (after all, who wants to believe their faith isn't the most important one?). At least it's nice that you don't appear to get in a huff if someone says the generic version to you; that's a more peaceful version of chauvinism.

Now, I've been known to wish a HH to people, but is it really that bad to assume the person you're greeting celebrates Christmas? As someone who does celebrate Christmas (even if secularly), I can't really speak for people who don't, but I generally consider it harmless buffoonery when people assume I'm of the same faith as the majority around me. I think the point at which you become a jerk about it is if you <i>know</i> somebody celebrates something other than Christmas and you wish them a happy your-own-holiday instead of theirs.

Anyway, I hope you all had a nice winter solstice. ;)

Happy Holidays isn't a replacement for Merry Christmas. That's just silly. Happy Holidays is older than anyone alive.

I'm a Christian, celebrate Christmas, and say "Merry Christmas" quite frequently (within a couple weeks of Christmas), but maybe Mr. Epps isn't aware that when people say "Happy Holidays" they're most likely referring to the period from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. That's three holidays right there (not counting the Jewish holiday or any others).

Plus, this isn't a Christian nation. It's a nation with a majority of Christians. The U.S. Constitution doesn't recognize the name Jesus Christ. Terms in various documents mention God and The Creator, but not Jesus.

This silly paranoia about a "War on Christmas" is false. Remember, Black Friday started on Thursday this year. As Jon Stewart said, "Christmas is getting so big that it's starting to swallow other holidays."

PTC Observer's picture



"Middle English, from Old English hāligdæg, from hālig holy + dæg day

First Known Use: before 12th century"

A Holy Day, as Christmas is and will ever be.

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