Trump claims people only say ‘Merry Christmas’ because of him

Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans do not care what phrase people use as a holiday greeting

Graig Graziosi
Friday 17 December 2021 16:50
Donald Trump thinks people say Merry Christmas because of him

In a bizarre interview between Newsmax presenter Mike Huckabee and former President Donald Trump, the former commander-in-chief claimed he brought back saying "Merry Christmas" and that Jewish and Muslim people love the holiday as much as Christians.

The interview, which aired on the Trump-friendly right wing cable channel Newsmax, centred on Mr Huckabee lavishing praise on Mr Trump for getting people to say "Merry Christmas" again after an alleged period of time when people supposedly did not.

At the start of the clip, Mr Huckabee says people stopped saying "Merry Christmas" as a greeting – likely a reference to major corporations and some individuals choosing to use "happy holidays" as a more inclusive greeting for people who are not religious or are not Christian – and then congratulates Mr Trump for allegedly convincing people to say it again.

Mr Trump agrees that "the country had started with this woke" idea that he claims stopped people and corporations from using the Christmas greeting.

"It was embarrassing for these stores to say Merry Christmas, you'd have these big chains that want your money but they don't want to say Merry Christmas," Mr Trump says.

The commentary is the latest iteration of the conservative Christmas culture wars that crop up each December, usually marked by hand wringing over the phrase "Merry Christmas," the removal of “Christ from Christmas,” and often including some criticism of Starbucks coffee cups.

The former president accepted Mr Huckabee's praise and noted that people apparently are saying "Merry Christmas" again, but "they aren't saying other things, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, you know those names are being obliterated because of craziness."

He said he encouraged his supporters not to shop at stores that "don't say Merry Christmas."

Mr Trump then goes on to claim that "Americans love Christmas," regardless of their spiritual beliefs.

"Whether you're Muslim, whether you're Christian, where you're Jewish, everyone loves Christmas," he said.

While the enjoyment of the holiday season is obviously left largely up to individual preference, neither Muslims nor Jewish adherents traditionally celebrate Christmas, as it is predominantly a Christian holiday co-opted from earlier pagan solstice celebrations.

The interview is intercut with b-roll footage of Christmas trees bearing nationalistic ornaments – including one that says "Be Best," a reference to former First Lady Melania Trump's anti-bullying campaign – and features soft music over scenes of white families celebrating the holiday.

Because of the lack of research on the subject, it's hard to verify virtually anything either of the two men said during the interview. However, data does suggest that most Americans don't care.

In 2016, back when Mr Trump allegedly would have just started rooting out "happy holidays" as a greeting, a Public Policy Polling survey found that more than 80 per cent of Americans did not care what phrasing people use as a holiday greeting.

A Pew Research Poll from 2017 found that more than half of Americans did not care what greetings stores use during the holidays. According to both polls, the only people who cared were, predictably, very strong conservatives.

Some Christian leaders even support the use of "happy holidays" as it was a more inclusive – and thus loving – way to greet other people during the holidays.

In a 2016 op-ed on the subject, Reverend JC Austin, the vice president for Christian leadership formation at Auburn Seminary, wrote that the phrase was a better way to exercise the values the holiday is meant to celebrate.

"Using their own logic, if saying 'Happy Holidays' is an intentional cultural displacement of Christianity, then insisting on 'Merry Christmas' is an intentional displacement of everyone else," he said in The Hill. "If ending political correctness means having the freedom to speak one's mind, then it seems odd that its proponents would insist on what others must say."

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