Merry Christmas! (It’s the Law!)

by Dan Quinn

In case you were wondering, it’s legal to wish people a “Merry Christmas.” Of course, no one really doubted that. But attorney Kelly Coghlan has decided to take the phony “War on Christmas” nonsense to even more absurd levels by letting people know that federal law officially calls December 25 “Christmas.”

Coghlan ( is the Houston lawyer who wrote the so-called Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which the Texas Legislature passed in 2007. The law requires that school events — including required student assemblies — be turned into public forums in which students may evangelize, if they choose, to fellow students and others in attendance. It’s a thinly veiled end run around constitutional protections for religious freedom and has forced public school districts across the state to pay attorneys to help them craft policies in ways that don’t get them sued.

Now Coghlan has circulated an e-mail — audience unclear, but presumably parents and perhaps school districts on his address list — reminding them that Christmas is a legal holiday. Thanks for the news flash, Kelly.

His purpose, of course, is to reinforce the misperception that Christmas is somehow under attack in America. Never mind that the vast majority of Americans celebrate the birth of Jesus with public prayer, decorations and festivities every year. And Americans have been wishing each other “Merry Christmas” since our nation’s founding without having to be reminded that it’s a federal holiday.

Even more ironic is that social conservatives like Coghlan are now turning to government as a justification for wishing people “Merry Christmas.” He even reminds readers that no one goes around wishing “Happy Holidays” before other federal holidays like Labor Day.

It’s as if folks like Coghlan have no idea how absurd they sound. And perhaps they don’t. In any case, they have become a caricature of prim-and-proper busybodies constantly pointing out the obvious to everybody else.

Read Coghlan’s e-mail for yourself:

Dear Friends of Students:

Every year at about this time, in our schools and in the market place, there seems to be confusion about the name of the holiday that occurs on December 25th. All federal holidays (and there are 10 of them) are created by federal law under the United States Code, 5 U.S.C. Section 6103. Each of the ten federal holidays is listed and named in this statute. To view the federal statute, click here on the website

The official federal holiday that occurs on December 25th is “Christmas Day.” It is the only federal holiday in December. Therefore, all of us in America should not hesitate to wish everyone “Merry Christmas.” By doing so, we are merely using the official and correct name of the federal holiday, as provided by federal law. One is operating on a sound legal basis when proclaiming “Merry Christmas” (and asking schools and companies to call the holiday by its correct federal name).

What about “Happy Holidays”? We also have a federal holiday named “Labor Day,” but we don’t go around wishing everyone “Happy Holidays” leading up to the first Monday of September. Why should Christmas be any different?

We should all call the holiday by its official legal name as stated in federal law: “Christmas.” Few people know this. Pass it on. Merry Christmas!