Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Controversy over "Happy Holidays!"

I'd like to address the whole controversy over changing the yuletide season greeting of "Happy holidays!" People feeling their new-found political muscle think we should say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy holidays!" Talk about political correctness!

The supposition from the side of conservatives -- Christian conservatives mainly -- is that non-conservative Christians, in fact anyone not pretty much a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian, are trying to "dumb down" the notion of Christmas and turn it from a solemn acknowledgment that Christmas is all about -- and nothing more than all about -- the birth of Christ. When someone says "Happy holidays!" instead of "Merry Christmas!" they are failing to acknowledge Christ as the center of the Christmas holiday and, as secularists, they are trying to drive religion out of the holiday. Maybe, but not on a sizable scale.

What conservative Christians are missing is that there are a number of holidays -- holy days, even -- that occur at this same time of year, and most people I know who say "Happy holidays" are not trying to rob the holiday of its religious origin as much as to wish the various groups celebrating the season much happiness. When I want to wish a Jew a "Happy Hanukkah," it doesn't make sense to wish him "Merry Christmas." When I want to wish someone in the African American community a happy Kwanza, it doesn't make sense to wish her a "Merry Christmas." Would it make sense to wish a Christian "Happy Hanukkah"? Of course not!

Just as important, I don't know what someone I meet on the street is celebrating other than the holidays, so it makes sense to wish him or her "Happy holidays!" Then if she wants to respond "Merry Christmas" I can then say "Yes, and a Merry Christmas to you!"

This sense by conservatives that the world wants to rob Christmas of its Christ is nonsense. It illuminates their myopic sense of self-importance that the world revolves around their faith and the self-perpetuated myth that the world is attacking them and they're martyrs for suffering through it. Again, nonsense! But "Happy holidays" anyway.


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