Is it permitted say any of the following to a Christian colleague:

1) Merry Christmas

2) Happy Xmas

3) Happy Holidays

I am specifically referring to initiating a greeting not responding to such a greeting as mentioned elsewhere December greeting responses or when giving a gift.

Also would there be a difference between let's say seeing someone and wishing them "Merry .." or using the phrase when thanking someone for a service (like saying it to a cashier) ?

Is writing it in a email different than saying it ?

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    Personally i don't say it. They are worshiping an idol and from what i have learnt you shouldn't even have mercy on them. So by saying these things to them i personally believe you are taking part in their services. For example, my family is christian and from time to time i have meals with them, i don't say amen when they pray before meals and i don't close my eyes either.
    – Binyamin
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 12:56
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    I think "happy holidays" will depend on the year. In a year such as this where there is no Jewish holiday nearbye, saying it would be problematic. But when Hanukah and christmas are the same day, it may not be.
    – avi
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 13:16
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    i think there is a rashi on the torah which answers this. forgot where.
    – ray
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 13:33
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    When social norms seem to call for me to say something, I say "happy new year". I don't know if that's good but it's less bad. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 14:04
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    Yeshivaworld.com covered this issue "How to Greet Non-Jews During the Holiday Season." The responses suggest Orthodox Jews don't have a single opinion on this issue. A Reform rabbi at Judaism.about.com gave a surprising--in my opinion--to "How should a Jew respond to a "Merry Christmas" greeting?"
    – JJLL
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 18:01

3 Answers 3


R' Ari Enkin has a great article on this: http://www.torahmusings.com/2011/03/jesus/

He theorizes that it is preferable to wish another Merry Christmas than Merry Xmas

On a related note, there does not seem to be any halachic advantage to using “Xmas” over “Christmas” as many are accustomed to do. This is because “X” (the Greek letter “Chi”) is not only a direct abbreviation for “Christ” but it is also used as a stand-alone symbol, known as the “Labarum” or “Chi-Rho”, to represent Jesus in both the Catholic and Protestant churches. As such, the use of the “X” might be much more of a problematic religious reference than the use of the colloquial “Christmas”.


There is an idea mentioned in the chumash commentary of Rashi that we ignore the fact that Jews may have had negative kavana if/when they commit a sin. Basically, Halacha doesn't recognize the existence of the Orwell's concept of Thoughtcrime (1984). Therefore, if one were to say feliz navidad (merry Christmas in Spanish), there would not be a problem because that person is probably not fluent in Spanish... Additionally, there was no intention of causing the aveira to be transgressed.

A person driving who is a sufferer of highway hypnosis – if he hits a pedestrian, he would probably be exempt in such a case, at least according to that.

Similarly, someone who is oveir a lav sh'ein bo ma'aseh (e.g. lashon hara) – eino lokeh, he is not flogged. And because of that, writing it in an e-mail would probably be worse.

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    Does this make sense? Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 21:01
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    I am not sure what your point is. Could you perhaps provide some sources so I can get a better understanding ?
    – eramm
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 21:11
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    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 21:11
  • @AdamMosheh I thought the issue was the Jew wishing the non-Jew well for his festival a bit like doing business with him ahead of his festival (first mishnah in Avodoh Zoroh). And see Shalom's comment Dec 18 '09 at 14:17 to "December greeting responses". Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 22:07

There are a number of issues here, first we must remember we are living amongst non-Jews and should respect there ways even though they are so removed from ours, this Christian festival is not even biblical,Christmas is a very recent holiday maybe less than two hundred years old,i thank the person with a nod and smile, and say have a most enjoyable holiday,

  • "less than two hundred years old" ???
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 22:50
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    The 4th century CE seems a more historical time for the introduction of the December 25 feast day.
    – Henry
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 0:44
  • simpletoremember.com/media/a/…
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 14:05

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