Catch-all Phrase of the Year: Happy Holidays

CP Popular, Religion 6 Comments

The Last Supper - Lego

A recent letter to the editor of the News Sentinel from Jennifer Ward has me thinking again. This Christmas I made every effort to say “Merry Christmas” to anyone I came into contact with. I did this because Christmas is the holiday I observe. I cannot recall an instance where I did not receive the same greeting in return. Does that mean everyone I came into contact with observes Christmas as their holiday, too? Or, were they only being nice to me, the person that initiated the conversation?

I do not believe in a catch-all phrase like “Happy Holidays”. Jennifer Ward is wrong when she says “It’s not about stifling beliefs or covering up a major holiday. It’s about respecting everyone and being aware that, despite numerical majority, we don’t get to exclusively inundate the public sphere with our personal beliefs.” It is about beliefs and “Happy Holidays” is a lousy attempt to cover up a major holiday. It is also my exclusive right to say Merry Christmas but it is also the greeting receivers right to say in return Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or Merry Christmas (based on their beliefs of course). I respect everyone and their personal beliefs and hope they return the favor and respect mine, too.

Photography by udronotto

Comments 6

  1. Excellent post. I was going to post one myself on the very same subject noting the News Sentinel letter. I have been mad since I read that letter. If I find out exactly which store the lady works at, I’ll be sure and not go to that store again. Anyone that would dare to try take out Christmas and the whole reason behind this whole season, doesn’t deserve the patronage from folks such as myself, who are offended at hearing “happy holidays.” Hopefully the handful of people that she is trying not to offend will keep her in business.

  2. CP,

    I debated on posting on this too. I don’t think that it is a matter of religion as it is a matter of Anti-Religion (not Atheism, I mean Anti-Religionists). I have great friends who are Jewish and Muslim. I tell them Merry Chistmas and they respond with their holiday greeting of choice. We are both happy and expressing a greeting that has a positive and gracious benefit to the recipient.

    I have a friend who tells me “A salaam alaikum” every time he sees me. I respond with a “Peace be unto you too brother”. We hug or shake hands and continue on with our meeting. Should I be offended that he chose not to speak to me in english? Why? He was offering me a positive and gracious greeting that meant something great to him. I can appreciate it for what it was. A statement of love towards your brother man.

    I would no more be offended if the Jewish girl I dated offered me a Happy Hanukkah. Or the mexican guys I used to run with as a kid would say Feliz Navidad or my Athiest friend when he says gesundheit when I sneeze instead of “God Bless You” (by the way he celebrate Christmas anyway for the fun of it). He may not believe in God, but he is wishing me good health in his own way.

    Even Starbucks changed their packaging this year from Holiday Blend to Chritmas Blend. I hope you all noticed.

    We need to understand the person and the greeting and not get hung up on the religion or lack thereof. If someone offers you a greeting of love and brotherhood – accept it for what it is. Don’t think that someone is attacking you or your religion because they say Happy Hanukkah and vice versa. And don’t back down from it because some fascist wants to control you by dictating some “socially approved” vocabulary.

    I am happy to get any positive greeting from anyone, of any color, at any time, from any religion or culture. As long as it is positive and gracious.

    Merry Christmas to everyone.

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  4. Well, there are two holidays around this time celebrated by the majority of people Christmas and New Year. Happy HolidayS.

    I might say Happy Holidays if I’m unlikely to see a person again until the next year. On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, I’m definitely wishing someone Merry Christmas (or sometimes Happy Christmas – since this is England) since that’s the holiday I’m thinking of.

    But I don’t feel very merry if someone’s saying Merry Christmas through gritted teeth in response to my well meant Happy Holidays that folks have said for years without comment.

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    Vol Abroad, thank you for bringing another perspective to the table with this story. When I wrote the post I thought about Happy Holiday’s in the sense of it serving in a plural form. I’m glad you pointed that out. However, I wrote the article in response to the nature of Jennifer Ward’s letter to the editor. Her statement was that the HH term “includes everyone”, not includes all holiday’s around this time of year.

    I wouldn’t want someone to reply through gritted teeth which is why I said “it is also the greeting receivers right to say in return Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or Merry Christmas (based on their beliefs of course).”

    Thanks for stopping by and for keeping the Vol spirit alive in London.

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