The Great Holiday Debate

Saturday, December 20, 2008

So, it's been a while since I've stirred any pots. And I'm going completely stir crazy in bed, so I think it's time to stir one.

There are a number of blogs that I read (and to my knowledge, none of them are ones who read here just in case you're worried that I'm talking about you) that have recently been taking jabs at people for not celebrating Christmas. Or for people because other people want to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

This issue seriously bugs the ever-living crap out of me. And it has nothing to do with being politically correct, or censoring myself, it has to do with being kind to others. Just generally kind. Not politically kind, because this isn't about politics.

I am Christian, I do believe in the birth of Jesus and I celebrate it with many others on December 25th. However, I am also aware of the fact that Jesus' birth is not the only thing that is celebrated on December 25th. This year the 4th night of Chanukah is on December 25th. Chanukah, a legitimate holiday, which ironically, is probably a holy time Jesus himself celebrated. You know, what with him being JEWISH and everything. But obviously anyone who celebrates that should have to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Flip the situation around. What if you were celebrating the smaller holiday and Jews were forcing you to say "Happy Chanukah" and being offended if you wanted to use a different saying? If they were publicly ridiculing you for wanting to have an inclusive holiday greeting.

It's childish nonsense, that's what this is.

I just don't understand why it's so difficult to say "Happy Holidays." Does it pain you to not mention Jesus' birth in your greetings? Do you think that Jesus wouldn't want you to extend holiday greetings to those who are different? To those who are celebrating other important religious holidays? How does it impact your holiday experience by acknowledging that other people celebrate other holidays?

I don't understand hatred or unpleasantries based on wanting to force Jesus' birth onto people. That's not what Jesus was about, he didn't promote hatred, he didn't force anyone to convert to adopt his ideals. And I don't think he'd be happy to hear that when people wish you "Happy Holidays" that you always respond with "Merry Christmas." I just don't. I don't think Jesus rolls like that.

And also I don't think it takes anything away from Christmas by recognizing other religions. I think, as I have previously mentioned, that this is one of the greatest parts of our country- religious freedom. Your holiday is not compromised by the fact that other people are celebrating something different. Or if it is, I must not have noticed that in my 25 years of celebrating it.

You might be wondering why this bothers me so much, and truly, it has a lot to do with my husband being Jewish. It also has to do with human decency and with the fact that it's not okay to be closed-minded.

So next time you get upset that someone is being too PC with their "Happy Holidays" greeting, consider that maybe it's not a politically correct statement at all. Maybe the person was trying to extend greetings to everyone, instead of one group of people. Maybe they were trying to be universally kind.

Please, tell me how that could possibly be wrong?


Anonymous said...

heh. this is one of my favourite rants as well.

which, to be quite honest, is why i'm using a menorah as my twitter and IM icon through the 28th. and, it's why i wished the cashier who said "Merry Christmas" to me the other day a Happy Hannukah in return.

supposedly i'm "oppositional." i think i'm just ornery.

excellent post. i wish more people would try to be universally kind. (and i hope you get over the sick very fast!)

Anonymous said...

I too have been thinking about this. My own solution is to say both Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to you and your husband. I am not actually traditionally Christian, more into Santa and love of fellow mankind than anything else. Still, the sound of words Merry Christmas in my head when I hear or read it sets off some physiological reactions in me the the sound of Happy Hoilidays doesn't. I am most pleased when someone will tell me enough of their beliefs that I can greet them as they themselves like best, and hope they will do the same for me. I wouild rather say Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza, Hope Santa treats you well, Pagan greetings on the return of the sun, AND Happy Holidays so that all are touched and included in the clebration.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the greeting 'Happy Holidays', in general. I don't say Merry Christmas to my Jewish friends nor do I send out cards to them that say that. What I do have an issue with is people who I know celebrate Christmas and who know I celebrate it saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas'. Or people who act like there's something wrong with saying Merry Christmas. As with everything else, they've taken the whole thing way too far.

Anonymous said...

I have the same rant. I am Pagan, but was raised Catholic. We celebrate "Christmas/Yule" with the tree and presents. I have many friends of many different religions and choose to say Happy Holidays to everyone in order to include not only all the religious beliefs, but also New Years.

What many "christians" tend to confuse here in the US is the whole "In God We Trust" with their wish of "In Christ We Trust". Last I learned in church, God is the father of Christ, not Christ himself. (And I use the lower case c and "" to denote a difference in true Christians and those hypocrites who make the big stink.)

So, Happy Holidays to you and yours. Keep ranting away.

And I hope you feel better soon.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for touching on this topic. I am Jewish. And it angers me to no end when everywhere you go you are wished a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays cover everything; Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza,La Posada (and I am sure more). When someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I reply by saying and Happy Holidays to you too. If they take it further by again wishing me a Merry Christmas (I am as mad as hell now). I reply, Happy Hanukkah. People get all “weirded” out and say, "Well, I don't celebrate Hanukkah." And I say well I don't celebrate Christmas and that is why Happy Holidays cover everything.
But, some people still don't get it. Like today, this exact scenario went on and the cashier said well everyone celebrates Christmas to some extent. I just said, "Whatever" and walked away. Why can't everyone say Happy Holidays or even have a safe and Happy New Year? And what is this EVERYONE celebrates Christmas to some extent? Does anyone have any idea what that means?
You bring up a great topic today, Katie, one I struggle with every year. I don't send out Christmas Cards or Hanukkah Cards, I send out a card with a greeting for a Happy Healthy Holiday Season and New Year (or something close). They are hard to find but I manage to buy 6-7 boxes at the after Holiday sales for the next year. I do this every year and always have a large stash of multi-holiday cards. This year due to illness, a hospital stay, newly started on TPN through a PICC line and an upcoming surgery to replace my feeding tube (it eroded due to a severe infection) I don't think cards will go out this year. If I can get them done tonight and tomorrow I will send some out on Monday (but it will be after the holidays--which is fun anyway).

Rant over.

Jodi, IL

Dysfunction Junction: said...

I concur...myself, I go with the newly traditional, "happy movie & chinese food"!

But I suppose, I would accept a happy holidays, which being a member of the Tribe, does not really bother me all the much.

However, I am blinded with rage by the sheer volume of people on the road for the holidays that make it impossible for me to drive in any sane manner.

Flea said...

I love your take on this. I can't imagine Jesus walking around saying happy birthday to Himself. But I'll still say Merry Christmas, unless I know it offends someone, or I know they don't celebrate Christmas. Then I make accommodations. Most people I know DO celebrate Christmas. But happy Hanukkah to Dr. Slappy!

Carleen said...

I'm a Muslim and even though I don't celebrate Christmas, it has never offended me when someone wishes me a merry one. Instead of being upset that someone has wished me happiness for a holiday that I don't celebrate, I see them wishing the same happiness for me that they want for themselves. And that's never a bad thing in my book. :)

Becs said...

All this sensitivity...well, we all go our own way. I wished the folks at my library "Merry Christmas" and one responded with "Happy holidays". Fine by me.

I am tired of all this walking on eggshells. If I know someone is Jewish, I will wish that person happy Hannukah. If I don't know, I go with my version, which is "Merry Christmas".

Overflowing Brain said...


I see your point, and it is a good one. I don't have a problem with being told Merry Christmas, and I don't think my Jewish husband does either. My initial point that I guess I did a poor job of relaying was with people who were upset with other people for asking them to say "Happy Holidays" instead. I'm sure that people who don't celebrate Christmas aren't constantly offended, but I just don't think it would hurt anyone to acknowledge that other people are celebrating other things.


I don't see it as walking on eggshells, or if is, I guess I don't see while that's wrong. When you say "Happy Holidays" you're still wishing people a Merry Christmas, it doesn't take away from the sentiment at all. I think it would be walking on eggshells if you had to try and change your greeting for each person based on their religion. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Just saw a funny video from Jason Mraz where he is singing a quasi-holiday song and wishing everyone "a happy next couple of days..." Seems to say it all, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

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joanne said...

Debate aside...
Happy first night of Chanukah.