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Happy Holidays Article

A friend of mine wrote this in response to a Happy Holidays article (http://blogs.kitsapsun.com/kitsap/letters/archive/2006/12/my_turn_happy_holidays_youd_be.html) that was written in the Kitsap Sun.  She put into words what I, and I’m sure many others, are thinking.  Please read it:

_ _ _ _ _ _ m a s

Miss Amy Tanaka

 This month, an article was published entitled, “Happy Holidays? You’d Better Believe It”. The main reason why the author urged you to adopt the greeting “Happy Holidays” is because it covers all of the diverse December holidays and avoids insulting people who take offense when not given the “proper” holiday greeting.

 If this broad greeting does indeed encompass all of these December holidays, why does it seem so centered on Christmas? Go and try to find a “Happy Holidays” Kwanzaa or Hanukkah card if you have trouble believing this! Since even those who prefer “Happy Holidays” are evidently using it to refer to Christmas alone, the effectiveness of this supposedly all-purpose greeting is questionable.

 Furthermore, why are we so concerned about offending people in December? Why don’t we say “Happy Holidays” year round? After all, it’s no good offending people in November if we believe we shouldn’t offend them in December. And we haven’t even taken into account the likelihood of people getting offended from this “Happy Holidays” greeting itself.

 Since this greeting is apparently not effective to cover all December holidays and is not effective to avoid offending people, can we wonder what it is really doing? In truth, it is silencing another greeting- Merry Christmas.

Here’s the original article by Mary in the Kitsap Sun:

MY TURN: Happy Holidays? You’d Better Believe It

Happy holidays, everyone!

Oh, wait … excuse me. Which holiday do you celebrate in December; Christmas? Hanukkah? Yule? Maunajiyaras? You see, there are so many holidays this month that it’s easy to get confused.

Only one holiday this month, you say? I apologize, but I beg to differ — as do many others of different faiths. There can be as many as 17 or more holidays that fall during the 12th month of the Gregorian calendar, depending upon both the solar and lunar calendars.

Maybe you are a Baha’i. If so, then you celebrate the start of two months of your year in our December; Masa’il and Sharaf. The Baha’i calendar consists of 19 months of 19 days. They even out the years by adding a leap year, much as we do every four years.

Perhaps you are a Muslim. Some years, the month of Ramadan ends about now which means that Eid-al-Fitr, the Breaking of the Fast, will occur in December. If this happens then Laylat al-Qadr will also fall in this month. On this day, the Muslims celebrate the first revelation of the Qu’ran to Mohammed.

If you are Jewish, you may be celebrating Hanukkah this month. The Festival of Lights commemorates the miracle of the Temple and lasts eight nights. It is not, as some believe, as “Jewish Christmas” but a holiday all its own which has been celebrated for hundreds of years by Jews the world over.

December marks the coming of the Winter Solstice. There are two religions which hold this day as sacred. The followers of Shinto call it Toji-Taisai and for them, it marks the return of their Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. To Neo-Pagans of all stripes this is Yule, and marks the turning of the Wheel of the Year and the sun’s rebirth. Even non-religious people observe this day as a secular turning point – the longest night of the year.

Maybe you follow the Jain religion. If so, this is a quiet holiday for you. Maunajiyara is a day of fasting, silence and meditation. This day honors the monks, teachers and religious leaders of Jainism.

If you are Sikh, you honor the birthday of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the Ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurus and a devout defender of religious liberty.

Zoroastrians will remember the founder of their faith on the anniversary of the day he died on the 26th of December. You will also celebrate Ghambar Maidyarem from December 31 through January 1 as the time of the creation of earth’s animals.

If you are African-American, you may have adopted the relatively new holiday of Kwanzaa. While it is a recent arrival to the list of December holidays, it honors the ancient heritage of your people.

Catholics remember many saints this month; St. Nicholas, St. Francis Xavier, St. Lucy (if you’re Scandinavian, this is St. Lucia’s Day), and two Johns — St. John of the Cross and St. John the Evangelist — among many others. Latin Catholics in particular will be honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. And among the most important of Catholic holidays, the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of The Holy Family fall this month.

So, you see, the best way to greet people you do not know in this crowded month of holidays is “Happy Holidays!” But, many of you may be thinking, can’t I tell by looking? Isn’t a turban or yarmulke obvious? Perhaps, but it’s certainly not foolproof. Not all Jews wear yarmulkes outside of Temple. Not all Latinos are Roman Catholic. Not every covered head means a Muslim.

Let’s say everyone got insulted when not given the “proper” holiday greeting? What if, seeing no yarmulke, I wish my Jewish acquaintance a “Merry Christmas”? Or my Zoroastrian friend a “Happy Hanukkah”? Should I presume that my African-American postman celebrates Kwanzaa? Shall I assume that every white Anglo family I see is Christian? They might be Neo-Pagan. Or atheists. Or even converts to another faith.

No, the best greeting for this time of year is “Happy Holidays.” That way, you’re pretty much covered and everyone spreads the cheer. And as for the so-called “highjacking” of Christmas, it behooves us to remember that it in no way belittles or degrades our own holiday by acknowledging others. When you say, “Happy Holidays!” you are saying, “we all celebrate something this time of year; may your holiday be as wonderful and joyous for you as mine is for me.”

And I so wish it. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Mary Steelman
BREMERTON

 

 

 

This is my reaction:

 

I do respect other religions, and I do understand that others could be offended by “Merry Christmas”.  Have you ever thought that in saying “Happy Holidays” to someone so you won’t offend them, that you are actually offending them?  What a mess!  Some people are offended by it, and others aren’t.  Why don’t we just stick to saying “Merry Christmas”, or whatever you want to say.  Walt brought up a good point, in that there are so many holidays in each month from all religions that why is “Happy Holidays” just for December now?  Who wants to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Happy Easter, Happy New Years, Happy Thanksgiving, etc.”  Can you see my point?  Let’s just stick to what we’ve all been doing, and if it makes you feel better, say whatever you would like to say concerning this holiday season.  You can’t limit other people’s speech because we have such a diverse society.  Someone is always going to be offended by what you say, so why change the Christmas greeting just to be politically correct.  What happened to our Constitutional Right, giving us the FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!  So, Mary, and everyone else, say whatever you want to say, but I’m saying “Merry Christmas!”

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December 25, 2006 - Posted by | Politics

1 Comment »

  1. For those of you who might not of seen my reaction at the end of this LONG post (sorry), here it is:

    I do respect other religions, and I do understand that others could be offended by “Merry Christmas”. Have you ever thought that in saying “Happy Holidays” to someone so you won’t offend them, that you are actually offending them? What a mess! Some people are offended by it, and others aren’t. Why don’t we just stick to saying “Merry Christmas”, or whatever you want to say. Walt brought up a good point, in that there are so many holidays in each month from all religions that why is “Happy Holidays” just for December now? Who wants to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Happy Easter, Happy New Years, Happy Thanksgiving, etc.” Can you see my point? Let’s just stick to what we’ve all been doing, and if it makes you feel better, say whatever you would like to say concerning this holiday season. You can’t limit other people’s speech because we have such a diverse society. Someone is always going to be offended by what you say, so why change the Christmas greeting just to be politically correct. What happened to our Constitutional Right, giving us the FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!! So, Mary, and everyone else, say whatever you want to say, but I’m saying “Merry Christmas!”

    Comment by Betsy | December 25, 2006 | Reply


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