Year-end Holiday Greetings

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Each year at the end of December, we seem to have a culture war on what kind of seasonal greeting to use.

Merry Christmas is the traditional favorite. The term Christmas came as a contraction of the two words Christ and mass. As the Roman Catholic Church began to celebrate the birth of Christ, it was natural to call the event The Mass of Christ.

However, not all persons acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. Therefore, Happy Holidays came into wide usage.

"Xmas" is a common abbreviation of the word "Christmas", often seen in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The "-mas" part is the word "mass", while the "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word translated as "Christ". There is a common misconception that the word Xmas is a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking "Christ" out of "Christmas".

If you are greeting a person or persons who do not acknowledge Christ, Happy Holidays is certainly safe. It covers our Jewish friends who may observe Chanukah, as well as those who don't celebrate any winter event except New Year's Day. If you are addressing persons who you know are Christians, the best greeting is Merry Christmas. If you're addressing a mixed group of those who celebrate Christmas and those who do not, Happy Holidays is appropriate.

Remember this.

Whatever greeting you use, make sure you offer it in the spirit of Christ.

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