Queen Elizabeth II wishes British subjects a “Happy Christmas” in her annual Christmas broadcasts, and the phrase enjoys a broad general currency the U.K., where it vies more or less equally with “Merry Christmas.”
Queen Elizabeth, a woman of serious low-church piety, is said to prefer “happy” to “merry” because she dislikes “merry’s” connotation of boisterousness, even slight intoxication.
Cleric KH Ma’Ruf, head of the Ulema Council, said wishing people Merry Christmas was forbidden by Islam.
Religious affairs minister Suryadharma Ali has contradicted the cleric’s view, saying it is not unusual to convey Christmas greetings to Christians.
He says saying Merry Christmas does not amount to participating in a forbidden religious ritual and has appealed for tolerance and diversity.
Thousands of extra police have been rostered on to guard Christian churches against the threat of terrorist attacks.