Offensive? Christmas Is a Multicultural Holiday

Every year, there are isolated incidents in the War on Christmas, and nearly half of Americans think store greeters should say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," as if the latter would be offensive. But even if the phrase does offend some, Christmas already is a multicultural holiday.

Many think of Christmas as Christian, and therefore offensive to non-Christians, but a vast majority of non-Christian Americans celebrate the holiday. Eighty-one percent of them make merry at Yuletide, according to a Pew Research survey from 2013.

In fact, less than half of Americans who celebrate Christmas (43 percent) consider it a "strongly religious" holiday, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. A majority (56 percent) say Christmas is "somewhat religious" or "not too religious."

Here are 5 different non-Christian groups that celebrate Christmas.

1. Muslims.

Surprising, right? Yes, many Muslims across America celebrate Christmas, and for many it's religious.

"Jesus (peace be upon him) is one of the highest messengers and prophets, miraculously born to the Virgin Mary, and chosen by God to be the Messiah who will return to establish justice on Earth after it has been filled with injustice," Imam Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, told The Huffington Post.

Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that Mary "occupies the highest position of any woman in Islam," Suleiman said. The Quran describes her as "chosen above the woman of all worlds as an example of perfection, devotion and modesty for men or women." In fact, an entire chapter of the Muslim holy book is named after her.

While Muslims do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, they do consider him "the Messiah." He was not only the messenger of God on Earth, but he will return to establish justice.

For these and other cultural reasons, many celebrate the 25th of December.

Aasif Mandvi, a Muslim actor and writer known for Spider Man 2 (2004) and The Dictator (2012), told The Huffington Post he was "a great Christmas caroler." In a refreshing burst of politically incorrect humor, he jokingly warned that if you screw up his harmony in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," he was "likely to start a holy war!" He even called Christmas "the best holiday!"

2. Buddhists.

According to the Pew Research Center, 76 percent of Buddhists celebrate Christmas.