“Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”

Courtesy of Yahoo Images

Courtesy of Yahoo Images

Jaylin Paschal, Editor-in-Chief

It’s December. That means it’s time for candy canes, tinsel, snowmen, and political correctness.

Everywhere you look this season, you will see signs and announcements editing their “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.” I personally think that this makes sense, as “Happy Holidays” is much more agreeable and universal. However, I also think this transition has been taken far too seriously, and has gone to an extreme that genuinely surprises me.

Everyone has made this big fuss in an effort to be politically correct and avoid offending each other. The thing is, people are hardly offended by the “Merry Christmas” wishes.

Yes, America is populated by millions of people who practice different religions, and it may be unfair to put the spotlight on one religious holiday. However, I do not think that Christmas is still widely considered to be just a religious holiday. If it were, public Christmas tree lightings (and the giant Christmas tree in the White House) would be unacceptable. When you think about Christmas, it’s more likely that “presents” will come to mind before “Jesus” does. Christmas has transitioned over the years and is now more of a cultural tradition or commercial holiday than anything else. You do not have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas, as many aspects of the celebration have nothing to do with religion, like leaving cookies out for Santa Claus. Many non-Christians do, in fact, enjoy the holiday every year and are not bothered by the “Merry Christmas” greeting.

Even those non-Christians who do not celebrate the holiday are rarely ever offended due to the fact that there’s hardly a reason to be upset. It’s not like anyone is purposefully being offensive. Anyone who wishes you a Merry Christmas is doing so with good intentions. It’s like someone giving you a birthday card with your name misspelled on the envelope. It’s annoying, but you know they mean well. Always wagging your finger at someone for not being politically correct by referring to Christmas is petty, and can even be a tad bit condescending.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, but get the “Merry Christmas” greeting, then why not just reply with “Happy Holidays,” or a simple “thank you”? It’s so common and so minor of an offense-the jaywalking of social faux pas-that if you are genuinely offended by it then you should probably just avoid interacting with strangers in the winter. It’s bound to happen, as Christmas is the most widely celebrated winter holiday in America.

The recent cultural shift to a more universal “Happy Holidays” has left many people in uncomfortable situations that could have been avoided. I’ve heard teachers stumble through sentences in an attempt to change “Christmas” parties to “holiday” parties, and “Christmas” break to “winter” break. As for personal experience, I have been chided by managers for wishing customers a “Merry Christmas,”  even though those customers had wished me the same first. “Merry Christmas” has been changed in classes and on commercials and on calendars in this colossal attempt to protect everyone from a seasonal greeting.

The unfortunate truth is it’s impossible to come up with something no one is offended by.

There are even a few Christians who are offended by the spread of “Happy Holidays,” saying that politics have declared a “war on Christmas,” which is ridiculous. Trying to phrase something in a way that pleases everyone is not an attack on Christmas or Christianity.

Instead of taking everything so personally and so seriously, we should all just offer and return whatever seasonal greeting we’re most comfortable with, and accept that the exchange may vary depending on who you’re talking to. For example, if you are Christian, and have a Jewish friend, then wish them well while observing their religious holiday with a “Happy Hanukkah,” and they can wish you well with a “Merry Christmas.” Just be respectful to others and their religion and practices. If they’re not religious, or if you are uncertain, say “Happy Holidays.” It’s quite simple, honestly.

December is not a time to be upset and/or stressed out over greetings. It’s a time for family and love and laughter. It’s a time to relax. We already get way too worked up about shopping and gifts, let’s at least agree to be patient and tolerant when it comes to exchanging greetings that are warm and kind-spirited, even if they’re sometimes the “wrong” greeting.

With all of that being said, Merry Christmas! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! Enjoy your break!