Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays!?
Tis the Season of Love and Joy!
Why are so many people worked up over these simple words that should symbolize happiness and joy? There are several holidays being celebrated throughout the month of December, some religious, some not, yet some people seem to think their particular holiday should take precedence over everyone else’s. The loudest voices seem to be those of Christians who are angry that Christmas is no longer viewed as the main celebration of the season.
As a Christian, I believe Christianity is supposed to exemplify love, peace, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and charity, as did our Lord Jesus Christ when He was here on this Earth. Yet sadly, when I look around I do not always see self described Christians exhibiting these qualities.
Holiday Celebrations in December
The Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays Grumble Is Back Again
Recently I read where one person wrote the following:
“I am sick and tired of every year when CHRISTMAS comes around, there are people who want to take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS. It might offend someone. Well how about all of the CHRISTIANS? What about offending us because you are taking our CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS!?!? CHRIST IS CHRISTMAS!!! If you aren't celebrating CHRIST then why are you celebrating? CHRISTMAS is about the birth of our SAVIOR! CHRISTMAS is one of a few holidays left that celebrate my CHRIST! Leave my holiday alone!!! And tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays! Repost if your not ashamed”
A Few December Holidays Coming Up
Here is a list of a few of the holidays that take place between December 1st and New Year’s Day around the world:
6 - St. Nicholas Day (International)
8 - Bodhi Day - Buddha's Enlightenment (Buddhist)
12 - Virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico)
12 - Mildad un Nabi (Islamic)
13 - Santa Lucia Day (Sweden)
16 - Las Posadas (Mexico -- December 16 though December 25, 2016)
21 - Yule, or the Winter Solstice
25 - Christmas (Christian, Roman Catholic, International)
25 - Hanukkah (December 25, 2016 through January 1, 2017)
26 - Boxing Day (Canada, United Kingdom)
26 - Kwanzaa (African-American - Dec. 26, 2016 - Jan 1, 2017)
January 1 New Year’s Day
(Most of the dates on the above list were found on the Interfaith Calendar. You can access that calendar in its entirety by clicking here. There are in fact several more holidays on the world calendar, but I listed the main ones here so that people can see that the month of December does not belong to Christians alone.
More December Celebrations
The USA Is Becoming More Diverse Everyday -- Whatever Happened To Religious Freedom? To Peace On Earth Good Will Toward Men . . .
The person who wrote the rant above about some nameless mythical person taking the Christ out of his/her Christmas must not be aware that the United States is a very diverse country and becoming more so every day.
There are hundreds of thousands of people living here who have celebrations during the month of December, but not Christmas celebrations. Is Christmas the only winter holiday that should be recognized in this country? Have Christians become so self-centered that they cannot allow for anyone else’s celebration?
Just as the writer of the rant above wants to know why someone is taking the Christ out of his/her Christmas, many of these people who do not celebrate Christmas are probably wondering why they must have Christ forced into their special holiday, and why Christmas supersedes their special holiday.
The United States is supposed to be a place where people have religious freedom. Many people came to this New World to be able to worship as they wished without fear of persecution. What has happened to that attitude of tolerance? Are we to reinstate the inquisition for people who do not worship as Christians believe they should?
Jesus Christ Should Be a Part of Everything Christians Do Everyday
Let me just say that as a Christian, I believe Jesus Christ should be included in everything we do every day all day long. If that is not possible then perhaps we should rethink what we are doing that we cannot include Him in whatever it is.
It is my humble opinion that no one can take Christ out of our homes, or our hearts, unless we allow that to happen. Mere words like Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays have no bearing on whether or not Christ resides in our homes and our hearts. The fact that everyone in the world is not celebrating Christ does not prevent me (or you) from doing so every single day.
Tailor Your Celebratory Message To the Person and Be Inclusive
There is no reason we cannot say Merry Christmas to acquaintances, family, and friends, whom we know are celebrating Christmas, but if we are not sure, then wishing someone Happy Holidays would seem to be the considerate thoughtful thing to do instead. Christians are supposed to be thoughtful and considerate are they not?
Happy Holidays is a good way to include everyone in the many celebrations taking place in December, instead of singling out one particular group or favoring one particular group over another. The origin of holiday is holy day. What is wrong with saying “Happy Holy Days” to people, so as to be inclusive rather than exclusive?
When Did Christmas Really Originate?
In fact, Christmas was celebrated in some form for centuries before Jesus Christ came to this world, and many of the Christmas traditions people around the world, and especially here in the United States enjoy, are rooted in Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, and other celebrations pre Christ (http://www.historyofchristmas.net/). In so many ways, Christmas is just Winter Solstice, or one of these other festivals, with a new name.
These same festivals are still celebrated to varying degrees around the world all these centuries later, so what makes you think Jesus is the reason for the season when the holiday season existed long before He was born? When the holidays were celebrated in virtually the same manner before He was born as they are now?
Jesus may be the reason why YOU celebrate the season, but He may not be the reason other people are doing so. It would be great if everyone were a Christian, but here in the United States we are a country of religious tolerance where everyone may worship – or not – according to their own beliefs.
No One Can Take Christ Out of Your Christmas or Out Your Heart Except YOU
There are so many more important things taking place in our world, it seems a waste of energy to me that we are arguing over whether we should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Why not put all that energy to work helping the millions of homeless people, unemployed, and underemployed people, in our country?
For years now, I have said that the best sermon is the one you live, not the one you preach. Show how much you love Christ by doing His work and helping the less fortunate this holiday season -- and all throughout the New Year, until they are back on their feet and able to help themselves again.
Jesus not only came to give His life to pay for our sins, but to set an example of how He wants Christians to conduct themselves. It seems to me the qualities He exemplified were forgiveness, mercy, charity, patience, kindness, and yes, a decided impatience and contempt for arrogance and selfishness.
If your Christmas joy is so dependent on hearing “Merry Christmas” from everyone you come into contact with, how meaningful can it be in the first place when a few words can ruin it for you?
The Spirit of Christmas used to be that time of the year when we think about people other than ourselves. A time when we forget about our own selfish wants for a little while and concentrate instead on the needs and happiness of other people, especially those less fortunate. Why don’t we bring that spirit back to Christmas, stop warring over words, and start doing the work God has assigned to us?
No one can take Christ out of your day, your Christmas, your home, your heart, or your life -- except YOU.
© 2011 C E Clark