I'm not sure when it started, but within the last ten years or so it has become fashionably unpopular to say
"Merry Christmas" to strangers. Even though Christmas has become totally commercialized and essentially de-Christianized in popular culture, we dare not speak the horrific phrase "Merry Christmas". Bah humbug to that.
Good or bad, most people in this nation identify themselves as Christian. The vast majority of people, religious or not, celebrate the secular version of Christmas. This being the case, it shouldn't be such a fucking big deal if we say "Merry Christmas" to strangers. If I were a Jew, Hindu or Muslim, I wouldn't be so sensitive that I would have a heart attack if someone said this phrase to me. The notion that most people celebrate a holiday I may not celebrate doesn't and shouldn't offend me. If it does, than piss on me. I deserve to be offended.
In this country, sports has become a sort of secularized religion. I often have store clerks ask me "How about them Browns?" In my mind, I am thinking "Hell if I know. I didn't realize they were still in Cleveland". But I don't take offense because these things matter greatly to many people, even though they don't to me. "Well, sports isn't religion", you may be thinking. Obviously you haven't met any Cleveland Browns fans.
There is one exception to this, however. If you know that someone is a practicing member of something other than Christianity, such as an observant Jew or Muslim, don't be a dickhead and say "Merry Christmas" to them anyway. If you do, then you are most likely an asshole with no social IQ whatsoever. In that case, the person deserves to be offended.
Another group of turds are atheists who have a conniption whenever there are prayers at school graduations or when religious songs are performed at Christmas concerts. If you are an atheist, you know full well that these prayers mean something to the people there. If prayer isn't for you, then bow your head and just be quiet. No one is forcing you to do anything. The entire thing is innocuous. Don't be a wet blanket and ruin the fun for those who get something out of it. It isn't that big of a deal.
The thing that really bothers me is that business is behind all this "Happy Holidays" bullshit. Afraid of offending advertisers and commercial sponsors, Christmas has become a "holiday". Yet "Happy Holidays" is such a sanitized phrase it doesn't mean anything. In the name of preserving the almighty dollar, Christmas has become neutered into an amorphous "holiday". It's like saying "I support the troops." WTF does this mean? Who doesn't support the troops? Maybe a few Nazis or two. But this phrase has nothing to do with questioning legitimate concerns about the war in Afghanistan and the former war in Iraq. It is an empty phrase that means everything and thus means nothing. It is designed to shut down conversation and end rational discussion. As soon as you question anything, you are poo pooed because you are not "supporting the troops". Nonsense. There is a difference between supporting the soldiers themselves and questioning government policy, doublespeak notwithstanding.
I'm not super religious. And it isn't my interest in converting anyone through the phrase "Merry Christmas". It is about not being so sensitive that you are annoying. This is the problem. So go ahead, say "Merry Christmas" If someone gets offended and tells you, tell them "Merry fucking Christmas" instead. Whatever you do, don't be offensive and insult their intelligence by saying "Happy Holidays".
We are all too smart for that.