It’s Christmas day in the Christian world, Jews celebrated Hanukkah at the beginning of the month, and Kwanzaa begins tomorrow. It’s the season of giving and sharing in many faiths this December, and yet there are roughly 1 million people in the United States who won’t be wishing anyone a happy holiday. All over the country, Jehovah’s Witnesses spent the day without presents or Christmas songs or nativity scenes. This branch of Christianity – which does not believe in the Trinity and holds up the Bible as a divinely written and infallible text (BBC Religions) – asserts that Jesus commanded the disciples to observe his death, not his birth and Christmas is both a pagan celebration and lacks biblical support (Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?).
Furthermore, the disciples and the early church did not celebrate Christmas, and God certainly couldn’t approve of a holiday rooted in pagan ritual. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official website – jw.org – it is simply a myth that Jehovah’s Witnesses miss out on the generosity and spirit of giving at Christmas time. Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to be generous and giving every single day; why would they need a special day or time of year to express the commandment to love their neighbors?
While many of us may not think about Jehovah’s Witnesses, except to comment on that time they came to our door, they are a substantial part of the population in this country. We are doing better to incorporate and highlight the holidays of other religions – Hanukkah, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr – but what do we do about those who don’t observe any religious holidays?
When we wish people “Happy Holidays” in order to cover all our bases, we are being inconsiderate towards Jehovah’s Witnesses and others who choose not to partake in the winter festivities. Though “Happy Holidays” is certainly safer than “Merry Christmas,” we have to remember that it doesn’t cover all our bases. If someone tells you they don’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, wish them a wonderful day, a great weekend, or a fantastic afternoon. You can start singing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” as soon as you wave goodbye.