President Elect Trump opened his Wisconsin and Michigan Thank You Rallies by saying “…we are going to say merry Christmas again…”. Trump is under the mistaken impression that many including Breitbart News, Alan West and many others hold, that President Obama banned federal employees from saying Merry Christmas.
Snopes.com debunked the myth last year. Here’s a skinnied down version of what we should know.
- The latest version of this misunderstanding started over a Veterans Administration directive 0022 RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS IN HOLIDAY DISPLAYS IN VA FACILITIES
- The federal government is prohibited by the Constitution from showing preferential treatment of one religion over another. This principle has been upheld by numerous court cases through the years.
- Directive 0022 was issued in 2002(note: before Obama was elected) to provide guidance to VA facilities on holiday displays.
- A VA facility in Salem, Virginia(again not Obama) interpreted 0022 to mean Christmas trees would violate federal restrictions on religious preference.
- A local TV station WSLS ran a story on the issue which resulted in the public expressing their disappointment.
- The VA amended 0022 to make it clear Christmas trees can be displayed as long as symbols of the other two holidays also celebrated in December(Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) are also displayed.
Strangely enough, VA Directive 0022 does not mention anything about saying Merry Christmas. I’ll share with you the rule my mom taught me when I was 5. If you know the person you are speaking to is Christian say “Merry Christmas”. If you know the person is Jewish say “Happy Hanukkah”. If you are unsure or if you want to cover all religious holidays plus the New Year say “Happy Holidays”. Mom didn’t have a clause for Kwanzaa but it’s “Habari gani?”
The difference in the greeting has nothing to do with political correctness – its just a way to try and be respectful of all religious holidays that occur during the holiday season. If that’s not your thing, you’re free to say Merry Christmas to your hearts content but leave President Obama out of your decision.