Merry? or Happy? A Christmas problem

Go easy on the merry, say some.

To certain ears, then, “Happy Christmas” conveys a sober, well-earned enjoyment, the satisfaction resulting from hard work and virtuous living.

On the other hand:

“Merry Christmas” stirs in us an impulse more primitive and unrestrained: The childlike giddiness of Christmas morning, the rush down the stairs and tearing at paper, the intemperate delight in gifts long hoped-for and wholly undeserved.


Which phrase conveys a more fitting response to the overwhelming, unearned, gift of Christ’s birth? Suffice it to say that when our Lord comes I hope I do not greet him with dignified reserve but instead rush at him with the unguarded, unembarrassed joy of a child at play or man at his cups. Merry Christmas to all!


Published by Jim Bowman

Jim Bowman covered religion 1968-78 for the Chicago Daily News, since then has written books, articles, etc., mostly on corporate history but also on religion. Longtime Oak Park, Illinois, resident, lives now on Chicago's North Side.

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