Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Christmas is one of the most popular occasions the world over. In the west it is usually celebrated in late November and early January. Over the years, some western countries such as the United States become a melting pot of culture, race and of religious and political beliefs. These diversities have added ways in which occasion like Christmas is traditionally observed. An example is the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” instead of the traditional “Merry Christmas”.   
Some conservative Christians don’t like the phrase “Happy Holidays” since it takes the name of Christ off in the traditional Christmas greeting. For them the birth of Christ is the very essence of the celebration of the season. Replacing “Merry Christmas” with the secular and inclusive “Happy Holidays” is not in line with the real spirit of Christmas.  Other people believe that the phrase “Happy Holidays” is atheistic, anti-Christian or a politically correct greeting during for the season.

Despite the difference over what phrase to use to greet people during the season, there are people including Christians who consider the phrase “Happy Holidays” as an appropriate greeting for the season. Because of its long running celebration, Christmas season encompasses occasions such as the Jewish Hanukkah, the secular New Year, the African-American Kwanzaa, and most especially the Christian Christmas and Epiphany. “Happy Holidays” is therefore a generic and inclusive greeting to people irrespective of his religious belief or lack of it. “Merry Christmas” is a specific greeting on December 25 or Christmas day.                                                                                                                      
Whatever phrase one uses to greet others during the season does not matter as long as it is heartily expressed and said in deference to others’ cultures and faith. Respect should also be accorded to people who do not want to get involved in any Christmas activities at all as some Christian sect like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do because they view Christmas as pagan in origin. If one is a believer in Christ then he could mention Christ's name in greeting others by saying “Merry Christmas”. Others who consider the diversity of people’s belief could say to others “Happy Holidays”. People have freedom of expression and religious beliefs which are universal rights. The ways to express a greeting should not be a cause of division or misunderstanding. The greeting should essentially create a spirit of harmony and goodwill among people as they celebrate the season of Christmas.