Happy Holidays is sometimes used as, what some would call, a “politically correct” way to avoid insulting anyone during the holiday season. The thought being that someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas might be offended by a Merry Christmas greeting and therefore Happy Holidays is less likely to ruffle anyone’s feathers. Some people however, interpret using a non-religious specific greeting, such as Happy Holidays, as an attack on Christmas itself, as though society is trying to take all religion out of the season. Lately I’ve seen a lot of people posting on social media about the need to “put the Christ back into “Christmas” by saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”
While I certainly believe that people should be able to say Merry Christmas without anyone being offended, I also think people should be able to say Happy Holidays without someone accusing them of trying to be politically correct or of attacking Christmas. If someone doesn’t know what holiday you celebrate, they will generally wish you a greeting from whatever holiday they celebrate. Personally, I usually say Merry Christmas (unless I specifically know that someone doesn’t celebrate it) because that’s the holiday that I celebrate, and I know many people who do the same. It’s a nice way of wishing someone good tidings during the Christmas season and nothing someone should be offended by, whether they celebrate Christmas or not. On the flip side, those who do celebrate Christmas shouldn’t be offended either if someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas wishes them a Happy Hanukkah or a Merry Yule (I’ve actually received both those greetings, even though I don’t celebrate either of those holidays, and I certainly wasn’t offended. I simply thought it was nice that they were kind enough to wish me a happy greeting).
Back to the Happy Holidays greeting, there’s nothing wrong with saying that either. It’s definitely not an attack on Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter). For starters, Christmas and New Year are a week apart, therefore many people like to say Happy Holidays to wish people joy on both those holidays. It’s only logical. Also, many families are multi-religious these days, Jewish-Christian marriages being quite common, and they often celebrate the holidays of both their religions. Therefore Happy Holidays is an easy way for them to wish friends and family (and vice-versa) holidays greeting without having to specifically name every single holiday.
Some people try claim that the last ten years have been an “Attack on Christmas” with the phrase Happy Holidays replacing Merry Christmas, but in truth, people have been saying Happy Holidays along with Merry Christmas LONG before that and people weren’t complaining about it being a war on Christmas then. Christmas cards have said Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings for many decades. Bing Crosby sang the song “Happy Holiday” back in 1942 and it’s still played on the radio at Christmas time. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a Christmas shopping ad titled “Happy Holidays are Coming!” back in December of 1863.
In addition, there are so many holidays this time of year, depending on when they fall, one month can include Christmas, Hanukkah, Rohatsu, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Yule, and probably many others that I’ve never even heard of. So honestly, is it really that bad to acknowledge that someone might celebrate a different holiday than ourselves (or that they even might not celebrate one at all)? It doesn’t take away from our own holiday if we acknowledge that they might not celebrate the same as us. It simply means that we are decent human beings who respect their right to their own religious beliefs, just as we hope they will respect ours. What is so wrong with that?
And finally, I think it takes more than just saying “Merry Christmas” to put the Christ in Christmas. Nitpicking about the words just makes people forget what the season is actually about. The truth is, if we REALLY want to “Put the Christ back into Christmas,” why don’t we feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the ill, practice forgiveness, do unto others as we would have done unto us, and not find fault with each other for our greeting word choices. And while we’re at it, why don’t we do that all year round, because Christ wasn’t just Christlike only once a year; it was an all year thing.
In the end, no one should jump down anyone’s throat for saying either Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. No matter what we say, we’re still wishing someone a nice greeting for the season, and I think we should spend more time focusing on that nice sentiment and less time criticizing people for exactly which words they use to say it. There is enough fighting going on in the world; let’s not make a nice greeting another one of those things to fight about. Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland ElfEnjoy this post? Click here to subscribe by email and get new posts delivered to your inbox.