“Merry Christmas” was once more mired in controversy when the owner of Bulldog Deli and Pizza in Greeley, Colorado, put up a billboard on Wednesday, December 23, with the holiday greeting. Greeley firefighter and marine corps veteran Brandon Bird, who paid for the sign to go up on 10th Street, admitted he’s never encountered such backlash as he’s had in the past week.
According to KOAA5, Bird has seen much over the 40 years he’s been in the restaurant business, but none like the recent complaints over “Merry Christmas.” Though running a couple of big name restaurants after his stint in the military, he’s never had a billboard until recently, and within hours of it going up, he started receiving calls and visits from people saying his sign was offensive.
“We didn’t start out looking to make a statement or be negative in any way, but it’s a free country. We have the right to express ourselves as long as we’re not hurting anybody.”
Based on the number of people who have shown support for his decision to say “Merry Christmas,” Bird announced that the sign is staying up for now.
Bird’s standing firm on “Merry Christmas” is reflective of other people’s attitudes in diverse circumstances elsewhere. Recognizable, even unlikely names like Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and Richard Dawkins come up.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a special Christmas greeting on Friday, December 25, which a Facebook Share on Twitter called his wishing “Israel’s Christians a very merry Christmas.” His greeting consisted of the following video message.
“From Jerusalem I wish Israel’s Christian community, and Christians everywhere, a very joyous Christmas and a happy new year. I am proud to say that Israel is one of the few countries in the Middle East, maybe the only country in the Middle East, where Christians are truly free to practice their faith openly, freely, to celebrate Christmas and other Christian holidays.”
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who has taken Starbucks to task for dropping the Christmas message from their red cups to be politically correct, denounces sneak-attacks on “Merry Christmas.” On December 24, 9:55 P.M., he tweeted his thoughts.
“Merry Christmas to all. Have a great day and have a really amazing year. Together, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! It will be done!”
British atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has come up as the unlikely defender of the Christian greeting. He once confided in singer Jarvis Cocker that he happily wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, having owned a tree when his daughter was younger. A year-round tweet he maintains, says it all.
“Merry Christmas! bit.ly/19cLgQE”
Others continue to show their true colors on the “Merry Christmas” debate. Aside from Donald Trump, presidential aspirants of either political stripe, namely, Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Hilary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and sole Jewish candidate Bernie Sanders, have included “Merry Christmas” on their Twitter greetings.
Prominent Jewish activist Jerome N. Gould posted his opinion in his blog The 2016 Committee. His widely-quoted “Merry Christmas” argument goes thus.
“I am ashamed to admit it today but I was, at first, pleased when I saw, over the years, the A.C.L.U. and Multi-culti types pushing ‘Merry Christmas’ out of the vocabulary of cultural discourse in favor of the more generic ‘Happy Holidays’. I’ve grown up, though, and I’ve grown into a new perspective on this whole question and, today, when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I have a new response. It’s really simple- I stop what I am doing. I don’t have any hesitation or second thoughts. I wish them a great big ‘Merry Christmas’ in return. I would like to encourage all my fellow Jews to join me in this.”
One Direction hunk Harry Styles tweeted the following on Christmas eve.
“Merry Christmas to everyone for tomorrow. Hope it’s a lovely one well spent. Good tidings to all. H”
Comedian Steve Harvey who mistakenly declared Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines the Miss Universe winner, stayed merry over his gaffe.
Merry Easter y’all! 🎄🎄🎄 pic.twitter.com/Z6Xjj5Ehqg
— Steve Harvey (@IAmSteveHarvey) December 25, 2015
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]