No doubt many of you have heard of “the war on Christmas”. Perhaps some of you even believe this so-called “war” is under way.
There are some who object to what they deem “political correctness run amok”, who decry any attempt to offer a seasonal greeting using any phrase other than “Merry Christmas.”
Apparently, to not say “Merry Christmas” is to attack the very foundations of our country, and even Christianity itself.
There are those — myself included — who will point out that “Christmas” is a holiday (the root of that word being “holy day”), and that since this is the Christmas season, greetings such a Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings are eminently appropriate.
Not so for those who fight the “war on Christmas.”
I understand those who follow a more evangelic faith tradition who incise on “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” Indeed, for people who uphold their faith, Christmas is all about Christ.
For others, whether they follow a more moderate faith tradition, or no faith tradition at all, “Christmas” may take on a different meaning.
There are those who will point out that what we now celebrate as “Christmas” is a result of the early Roman church asserting itself throughout the Roman Empire, subsuming and converting the existing pagan celebrations into something more suitable.
Saturnalia, the celebration of “the return of the sun” (that is, the days following the Winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer) was selected as the new Christian holiday “Christmas”, the birth of the Son of God.
We know that the biblical story could not have taken place in December. But, the tradition has been passed down for centuries, and is generally accepted.
Of course, there are people who would rather society dispense altogether with the “religious” aspect of Christmas. Certainly there is an argument to be made here, given how commercialized this holiday has become.
Then again, perhaps it is the commercialism that is the true “war on Christmas.”
One of the many great things about a country like Canada is having freedom of religion as a Constitutional right.
To clarify, this is not freedom from religion, but the freedom to practice whatever religious or faith tradition one wishes, without interference from the government or other citizens.
I am free to choose how I celebrate Christmas, or any other holiday. You are free to do likewise, even if that means you do not celebrate any holiday.
So, if you choose to say “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”, who am I to object?
There is a meme circulating on Facebook that reads…
I don’t understand what the big deal is…
If you are jewish, tell me:
If you are Christian, tell me:
If you are African-Canadian, tell me:
If you don’t prefer those, tell me:
I will not be offended.
I will be thankful that you took the time to say something nice to me.
I think that says it all.
The words themselves aren’t important. It is the thought that counts.
Why, when someone offers you a greeting meant to convey good wishes would anyone object?
I know that there is some institutional policies in effect in some workplaces, including schools, which require celebrations at this time of year to be referred to in a more generic fashion — Holiday Celebrations, for instance.
This is often interpreted a an attack on Christmas, but in reality it is meant to be inclusive of all faiths and traditions.
Rather than have banners and signs offering greetings in a multitude of languages, or honouring each and every faith tradition, (at the risk of overlooking and omitting some) the use of a more generic greeting — “Season’s Greetings”, for instance — is meant to include all who are celebrating at this time of year.
And it is not a recent phenomenon, either. I have LPs from the 1960s that have artists singing “Happy Holidays”, and I recall having decorations that said “Season’s Greetings” hanging in our windows.
No, as I see it, the only “war on Christmas” is being waged by those who have a very narrow outlook, and insist that everyone celebrate Christmas the same way that they do, themselves.
People have their own faith traditions, and will celebrate the season as they see fit. Whether we all celebrate in the same way or not, what’s important is that we just offer each other best wishes for the season.
We should accept greetings offered to us in the spirit of the season, whether or not they are the words we would use ourselves.
I found another meme which speaks to this apparent controversy. It reads…
Why do I wish people “Happy Holidays”?
Because from 1 November to 15 January
there are approximately 29 holidays observed
by 7 of the world’s major religions.
And I don’t think mine are the only ones that count.
So, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Id al-Fitr, Winter Solstice, or any of dozens of other seasonal holidays, I wish you all the best, and…