For both professional and personal reasons, I spend quite a bit of time on the Internet. As the holiday season progresses, I’ve seen more and more of something that irks me, but I wasn’t able to put my finger on the reason why it bugs me until a friend spelled it out for me over the weekend.
What’s bothering me is a somewhat pervasive attitude says the phrases “Seasons’ Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are in some way an attempt to remove the “Christ” from Christmas. I just don’t see it.
When talking about something as precious and personal as faith, I understand it’s difficult not to react immediately and emotionally. However, before we drag out the tar and feathers and have an editor barbecue on the Courthouse Lawn, let’s think about this for a minute.
I’ve done some research on the matter, and there are at least 12 different holidays during the month of December. For many in these parts, naturally, the most notable of those holidays is, in fact, Christmas.
However, scratching just beneath the surface, we realize that there are a bevy of religious holidays during December, including, but not limited to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Bohdi Day (the Buddhist day of enlightenment) and Al Hijra, the Muslim New Year. Given that our nation was founded in part on the principle of religious freedom, I have trouble seeing how an inclusive wish for a happy holiday season is somehow derogatory against one religion or another.
I’m not saying that “Merry Christmas!” can’t – or shouldn’t – be the holiday greeting of choice for the population that believes in celebrating Christmas as the birth of the Christ child. I’m not saying that at all.
I’m simply asking the people that wail that “Happy Holidays” should not be used to stop and think. Often, these people are the same that complain about political correctness in general, and bemoan the notion of putting their own beliefs on hold in honor of respecting someone else’s – which is not an unreasonable complaint.
However, on the other hand, why would that same Christian ask a Buddhist, a Muslim or a Hindu to put his or her own beliefs on hold in honor of a Christian belief? Looking at it in those terms, it doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?
The bottom line is very simply this – act upon your beliefs. If what you feel, if what’s in your heart is to say “Merry Christmas,” then by all means… Shout it at the top of your lungs, if that’s what you feel moved to do.
But please, please don’t get angry when someone who may not share your beliefs responds to your greeting by saying “Happy Holidays.” After all, you really don’t know if you’re talking to someone who shares your beliefs, do you? And in this season of forgiveness, love and sharing, isn’t offering a bit of tolerance for different beliefs a good way to go?
“Happy holidays” doesn’t translate to “I want your Christian holiday and all mention of it outlawed.” More accurately, it offers a wish for a happy and safe season, regardless of which December holiday you happen to celebrate.