Fill in the blank.
I’m sure you know people who, every December, ignite the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate. Happy Holiday greetings “wage war” against Christmas, but wishing a merry Christmas “excludes those who don’t celebrate Christmas” (although, doesn’t “Happy Holidays” also exclude atheists, who don’t celebrate any winter holiday except New Year’s?).
Not surprisingly, “Happy Holidays” has grown in popularity, with more businesses using the phrase in advertisements and on social media to appear inclusive. Think of the last time you read a holiday card from friends or family, ate in a restaurant, or received any sort of service–what were you told? You may also hear “warm wishes” or “seasons greetings” or a simple message like, “Enjoy your holiday!”
Even several former US Presidents, which include Eisenhower back in 1954, Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama during his eight years in office, opted for more generic phrases; meanwhile, President Trump has kept his campaign promise in using “Merry Christmas” on his White House cards. (Check out the link below to view previous White House Christmas cards.)
If you’ve read my previous articles, it’ll come as no surprise that I celebrate Christmas. And all I want for Christmas is to say, “Merry Christmas!”
But here’s the point. Even though I celebrate Christmas, wish me whatever you want–Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, or Eid Mubarak. Or perhaps you celebrate Las Posadas. Point is, just stop worrying you’ll offend someone. If we really want to embrace diversity, we shouldn’t unify all religions. We already have universal holidays that various cultures celebrate.
You should wish others whatever you want to wish them because that’s freedom of speech. Even if you offend someone, does this justify staying silent about the faith that brings you joy? After all, you’re just wishing someone happiness.
The First Amendment doesn’t create religion-free zones–people do that themselves–nor does the article endorse a specific religion. Rather, the 1A lets you express any religion you choose. Wishing someone “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” isn’t imposing your ideas on anyone, nor does it imply that you’re ignoring other religions; it’s an opportunity for you and others to get along despite the presence of different ideologies. Meanwhile, wishing others “Happy Holidays” shows that you’re going along with society by conforming to the mass and forgoing your individual identity.
People really want us to go along, and I get that it’s sometimes easier for us, but the “Happy Holidays” phrase extends beyond greetings. In December 2018, a Nebraska elementary school principal lost her job after banning candy canes from classrooms because she said the J-shape stands for Jesus; the red for Christ’s blood; and the white for His Resurrection. (side note: I’ve followed Jesus for almost 6 years and have several Christian family members and friends–no one ever made these parallels.) The principal also banned reindeer and red and green decorations. However, the principal, who earned nicknames like Scrooge and Grinch, permitted snowflakes, penguins, gingerbread people, Frozen‘s Olaf in case you want to build a snowman, and several other generic items.
We the people lose our freedom of speech rights when we try to not offend others, by aiming toward political correctness. We should always maintain a respectful behavior but ensure that we’re receiving respect, too. When students, professors, and other adults tell me to say “happy holidays,” they make me feel like something is wrong with my faith, and that’s pretty offensive, even though that’s what they say they’re avoiding by using generic greetings.
Let’s not lose our 1A rights in our efforts to practice acceptance and promote diversity. Silencing your beliefs isn’t tolerant, nor is it tolerant to expect someone else to silence theirs.
Can’t I say both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays?”
No! Unless you’re covering NSYNC’s 1998 song “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,” be confident in what you believe, and don’t say what you think others want to hear. Doing so protects both our freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
But what if I’m the only one who’s wishing a happy (fill in the blank)?
I bet you wouldn’t be the only person if you spoke up, and who cares if you are? There’s a reason you celebrate what you do–get others to acknowledge your faith.
Isn’t it rude to wish people something when it’s obvious they hold different beliefs?
Before I became a Christian, I always felt included when people wished me “Happy Hanukkah” or something else because they treated me no differently than how they treated those who shared their views, which made unfamiliarity with their religion less intimidating and more approachable. Now, I wish these people “Merry Christmas” because our differences don’t offend us, and we respect each other’s confidence, so there’s no reason to limit our conversations. And plus, it’s not like you’re screaming in anyone’s face. I seriously doubt anyone who wishes you a merry Christmas is trying to convert you. In a society where eyes stay glued to phones–and now, our textbooks for finals–people should appreciate you even greeting them. If there’s anything people should complain about, it should be traffic or long lines in stores, not how you wish them joy.
‘Tis the season to be jolly . . . and wishing others whatever you want to wish them! People may respond with the same greeting or with one from their culture, and that’s okay. Similarity can’t define you; showing what makes you unique will, so enough with the robotic “Happy Holidays” expression.
Merry Christmas, God Bless, and Happy New Year!