In our first year blogging, I wrote a piece on why I, as Jew, wish people a Merry Christmas. Then, as now, I felt it absurd that people try to strip this season of his sacred significance to Christians who celebrate today the birth of their Savior. Knowing how holy this day is to those of that faith, I’ve keeping up my tradition, wishing people a Merry Christmas, wanting to share their joy with them.
Tomorrow, I’ll be doing just that with my brother-in-law, celebrating Christmas with him and my sister in their home as per their tradition.
Below, in slightly revised form, I include (as I did in 2009) my original “Merry Christmas” post.
In 2004, when then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lit what most of us (including Jews) know as a Christmas tree. Some reporters sensed a controversy because his Democratic predecessor had called the decorated evergreen a “holiday tree.”
You see, that Democrat, like too many in our society, strove to eliminate all references to religion in public ceremonies and holiday displays. They seem to think that the Constitution has created some sort of wall of separation between church and state. Unfortunately, that expression (“wall of separation“) comes not from the U.S. Constitution, but from a letter of Thomas Jefferson. The actual text of the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (quoting only the first part of the amendment referencing religion).
And frankly, this Jewish writer just doesn’t see how calling a decorated evergreen tree a “Christmas Tree” represents the establishment of religion. Or why it is so offensive. Indeed, a few of my friends worry that they might be offending me if they wish me a “Merry Christmas.”
Those very individuals, however, some of them devout Christians, are touched when I wish them “Happy New Year” at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). When I lit the Chanuka candles with gentile friends on this holiday’s fourth night, they were touched that I would share the festive tradition with them.
Why should non-Christians be offended by a Christian’s sharing his or her joy in celebrating a religious holiday of his faith when delight in sharing our joy in celebrating ours?
If someone wishes us a “Merry Christmas,” they speak from their heart, wanting to share the spirit of this festival (sacred to them) with us. So, let’s welcome their good Christmas wishes, even when expressed to their non-Christian fellows. (more…)