What is so bad about Happy Holidays?

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.

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4 comments

  1. Anonymous - AKA please don't stone me

    My eyes roll back into my head every time someone says that Jesus is the reason for the season. Pick up a history book and you’ll realize that Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th 300 some odd years after the vote at Nicea, decided arbitrarily that not only was Jesus God but also he was born on December 25th, conveniently the same day as Sol Invictus, that crazy Roman God the invincible sun. (that will burn out in 6 billion years but whose counting)

    Most likely Jesus was born in March, so happy holidays is the correct statement. The placement of Jesus’ B-day on December 25th was political, period. We’ll talk the moon cycle mystery of the date of his death later, I love how no one questions that. Head scratch.

    Honestly, I really don’t care what people say, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. As someone who clicks None, or Spiritual, or if I really want to have fun all of the above, it’s inconsequential to me what they say. I just wish people wouldn’t always assume that I NEED to be converted.

    No thank you and Happy Sol Invictus day!

  2. That was a very well written article but I think you may be a bit off the point a bit.
    The holiday in question here is called Christmas. I’m not a Christian myself but I recognize the right of Christians to have a celebration and call it what they want. The overwhelming (for the moment) majority of the North American public is of one faith or another that recognizes Christmas as a holiday and time for celebration. They don’t wish to take Hanukkah away from the Jews, nor Ramadan away from the Islamics.
    I believe what they’re objecting to (and I really don’t care, I’m just explaining to you) is the almost legislated Pasteurization of their religious event so as not to offend anyone, while the other religious communities remain free of censorship.

  3. I don’t have an issue with folks saying “Happy Holidays”. I am sick of the very obvious, intentional switch to using “holiday” when referring to decorations or events. Like, “we’re going to put up the holiday tree today!” What will all these people do when they realise that “holiday” means “holy day”? ;-)

  4. Long before I knew that other religions celebrated holidays at around the time my family celebrated Christmas, I said “happy holidays” because it was inclusive. It included both Christmas and new year, so it was a catch-all term for someone I might not see again between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Today, I don’t use it in order to be politically correct or out of some great fear of offending somebody, but rather to be inclusive. If there are half a dozen holidays celebrated around this time of year, I want everyone to have a happy all of them!