Should stores say ‘merry Christmas’? Trump says yes. But just ask the shop owners.

Donald Trump’s path to electoral victory was paved in part with a promise that Santa Claus might make: “We’re all going to be saying ‘merry Christmas’ again.” …

Gerry Bowler, who just published his third book about the history of Christmas, said most Americans blithely said “merry Christmas,” with perhaps a “season’s greetings” thrown in sometimes, for most of our country’s history. U.S. presidents helped start the “happy holidays” trend by sending out annual holiday cards with nonreligious messages, Bowler said. The trend dates to Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, though “merry Christmas” remained the cultural norm for decades longer. …

But then in 2004, a California group calling itself the Committee to Save Merry Christmas mounted a boycott of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s because the stores said “happy holidays.” And the next year, Bill O’Reilly took up their cause, and returned to it year after year on Fox News Channel. The “war on Christmas,” in O’Reilly’s words, was underway. CONT.

Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post