2012 Holiday Advent Blog – Day 3 – Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

I saw the headlines again the other day, so I just can’t help myself but to say this – if it wasn’t for FOX News, the “war on Christmas” wouldn’t even exist.

The thing is, they get people riled up on this every single year when for the rest of us, the divisions that take place are honestly pretty clear to the naked eye. The best way that I can think to describe it is by dividing our country up into three groups…

  • Individuals – Free to say whatever they’d like – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Get Off My Lawn, or whatever – and this is motivated by their own personal beliefs.
  • Businesses – Motivated by a mixture of beliefs and profits, though some may choose to align themselves with a particular religion, many these days design their marketing around Happy Holidays just to make sure that they’re not leaving out any of their potential customers. Nothing personal – it’s just good business.
  • Government – And the last one, driven by our Constitution, also find Happy Holidays to be the most appropriate moniker because the first amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion.

I guess I just don’t understand why it matters what everybody else says – if you’re a Christmas man, say Merry Christmas, and if Hanukkah is more your style, then announce Happy Hanukkah whenever you walk into a room. I personally use Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas interchangeably, though I tend to reserve Merry Christmas more for Christmas Day and fall back on Happy Holidays to refer to the season in general because, well, I’m a writer and that’s how those words actually work! 😉

If you really want to dig down deep into it, I personally don’t celebrate Christmas for the “religious reasons” as much as I just enjoy the spirit of the season in general, with Santa and giving presents and eating cookies and all of that, but even though I get that the words may be closer to home for those who do celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, I’m still bereft as to how other people’s choice of words could somehow impact your own enjoyment of the season at large.

If it’s my birthday and somebody tells me, “Nice hat!” instead of wishing me “Happy Birthday!” when we pass on the street, that doesn’t make it any less my birthday nor does it somehow impact the ways in which I choose to celebrate said birthday…

…unless one of them happened to be showing off my new birthday hat, I suppose! 😀

But as for whether the weekly circular from Sears boasts Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, I just don’t see why it matters because regardless of the choice of phrase, the real message behind the rhetoric is pretty much the same – “Hey, nice hat – why don’t you come buy some of our stuff?” No one is declaring war on Christmas and you’re really just doing a disservice to the true spirit of the season by trying to play sides instead of focusing on helping other people, which from what I’ve heard is kind of a big thing in Jesus’s book.

And as for the government shying away from Christmas This and Christmas That, well again, they’re just trying to be inclusive of the entire population as a whole, including the 27% of Americans who affiliate themselves with a religion other than Christianity or even none at all. Nothing vindictive or anti-Christian – just trying to be fair because in the face of religion, it isn’t the government’s place to pick sides.

This post was inspired by a video I found from Penn Jillette a few days ago in which he speaks rather eloquently on the topic…

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