So, just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a little number crunching research...
How many "religions" are practiced in the United States
(where I happen to reside), and how many of those religions
observe a holiday during the winter season?
According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, there are quite a number of folks who self-identify with the "Christian" religion. (I would statistically fall within that category, but by no means do I share any number of practices with the rest of the folks who fall in that category.) And let's say for sake of argument that Mormons generally consider themselves to fall within the category of "Christian." That would come to (as Gallup claims) 77.3% of the U.S. population that prefer the label of "Christian" when describing their religious preference.
And, even though their numbers do not total 100%, there are still 4.9% of the U.S. population who affiliate with another religion. (I am not exactly sure where Pagans, Shinto, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Bahá'í, or Rastafarians fit into that dynamic.) I never could determine how many religions are actually practiced, but I think it is really beside the point.
But from what I can gather just online, these U.S. citizens also celebrate holidays during the Fall and Winter months.
According to http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/tools/calendar/, holidays or celebrations observed by other religions between the months of November and January include:
- Jews - Hanukkah/Chanukkah and Tu Bishvat.
- Hindus - Dhan Teras, Diwali, Kartik Poornima, and Makarsankranti / Pongal.
- Muslims - Hijra - Islamic New Year, Ashura and Milad un Nabi.
- Sikhs - Guru Nanak Birthday, Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom, Guru Gobind Singh Birthday, Maghi - Lohri, and Guru Har Rai Birthday.
- Buddhists - Bodhi Day, and Mahayana New Year.
- Shinto - Shichigosan (7-5-3 festival), Niinamesei, Oshogatsu (or Shogatsu), and Seijin Shiki (Adults' Day)
- Bahá'í - Birth of Baha'u'llah, Day of the Covenant, and Ascension of Abdu'l-Baha,
- Pagans - Winter Solstice
- Rastis - Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I, Ethiopian Christmas Day.
- African-Americans (of any or no particular religion) - Kwanzaa.
How is a perfect stranger supposed to know
what you do or do not celebrate?
Folks, we Christians did not invent the concept of a holiday. And if you want to get quite technical about it, let's start a discussion about why the Christian church celebrates holidays that are not even in the Bible... especially in light of Colossians 2:16 - Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
(And there are thousands of Messianics / Hebrew Christians / Netzarim who identify with Jesus/Y'shua as the Jewish Messiah, but eschew the current popular observances of "Christmas" to be pagan in origin. So, where does that leave them?)
Can we stop with the arguing, already?
When someone says "Happy Holidays", just smile and take it in the manner it was intended: a friendly greeting. Period.