According to Facebook, or at least those on it that are my friends, people are fed up with the term Happy Holidays, feeling that it has begun to replace Merry Christmas. I have alternatively heard that there is a backlash to the phrase Happy Holidays by some people who believe that rather than being able to celebrate Christmas, it is best not to offend anyone by using the Happy Holidays phrase.
The whole Happy Holidays appears to be a North American thing as I had never really heard of it other than in song before I moved here. In the 1942 classic White Christmas (and I believe also Holiday Inn) the song Happy Holidays is featured. If the phrase has been around for nearly 70 years why the sudden backlash? In 1942 there was no such thing as politically incorrect so why is it now considered so?
As the world becomes culterally more diverse, we see many more religions all mixed in togther in the same place. As such, places such as stores are going out of their way not to alienate potential customers, rather using the Happy Holidays as a catch all. If you are not willing to risk offending anyone, this is the way to go.
But, and of course there has to be a but, there is a good case that people should not be offended so easily and simply accept that not everything is about them or designed to upset them. That can be difficult as religion is very close to the hearts of those involved. Being a heathen, I find that all religions have merits and faults, none are perfect but all can contribute positive messages to your life. Just because you have your religion doesn’t mean you should ignore all others.
In Islam, the largest holidays are Eid ul-Fitr (immediately after Ramadan) so would those wanting to use Merry Christmas be happy if there were Eid ul-Fitr cards at Hallmark? What about Passover for those of the Jewish faith? If you want to be special, you have to let everyone else be special also. I am not offended by Happy Holidays, the same way that I am not offended by any other seasonal greeting. I don’t begruge Muslims Ramadan so I hope that they don’t get offended by Christmas.
Going back to before Christ, the Winter solcistie was celebrated by druids. I can’t help wondering if the Druids kicked up a fuss when people started wishing each other Merry Christmas. Of course, since the first time the phrase Merry Christmas was used was 1038 (thanks Wikipedia) they probably didn’t have anything to worry about.
The root of all this backlash is obviously fueled by Facebook, with the virual quality of instant commnication. Often a status is posted and then others are encoursaged to re-post it. In many ways it is very similar to the quaint art of the chain letter, encouraging others to do the same. Information, correct or otherwise, can spread like wild fire. One person sees something they either like or agree with and copy it, then someone else, the cycle continues and what one person simply typed can be found around the world. It’s true, just ask Abraham Lincoln.