YES: Mckenna Marshall–Print Reporter
The argument between happy holidays and Merry Christmas is one, to me, that feels as old as time. It’s a subject that when brought up around the Thanksgiving dinner table, makes me want to roll my eyes so hard they might fall out. The fact of the matter is, no matter what your religious identity, most people celebrate Christmas in this country. There are those who fall in between, who don’t celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday but still open presents on Dec. 25.
All of those are wonderful and valid ways to spend your holiday season, but by saying Merry Christmas to a stranger who might not celebrate Christmas, they might feel alienated, no matter what the original intent of the message was. Most people I speak to don’t really care either way, but some people do. Saying Merry Christmas can be seen as forcing Christianity on people when that’s not really the intention. Saying happy holidays bypasses this risk. Happy holidays doesn’t exclude anyone. Christmas falls under the umbrella of this term but also kindly covers other, less popularized holidays such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and Humanlight. Choosing Merry Christmas rather than happy holidays excludes all those holidays.
This doesn’t mean that no one should ever say Merry Christmas again. When around people of your own faith, whether it be Christianity or Judaism, feel free to be more specific with a friendly Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah. But when regarding a stranger or large group of people, it’s safer and more considerate to use a more broad term. People of other faiths already have to hear so much about a holiday they don’t celebrate through the media. It’s impossible to escape.
It’s on every TV show, all over social media and in all of the stores. It wouldn’t hurt to give these people a break from the Christmas craze by making a simple change in word choice. America is a place all about freedom, but it’s also a place about being decent people. Not to say those that say Merry Christmas isn’t decent people, but why, when given the option to include or exclude people, would you choose the latter option? Saying happy holidays isn’t about being politically correct, it’s about being considerate to those around you with different worldviews and lifestyles.
It honestly might not make a difference in your own life whether you say Merry Christmas or happy holidays this season, but it could make a difference to someone else.
NO: Kathryn Scott–Managing Reporter
It’s becoming common to hear or use the greeting “happy holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas” for the sake of being politically correct. While the attempt to avoid offending anyone is recognized and appreciated, 90% of Americans reportedly celebrate Christmas, according to a recent survey taken by Pew Research Center.
With such a high percentage of people celebrating Christmas, why can’t it be expected to hear Merry Christmas during the season? Granted, while there are holidays other than Christmaslurking in the winter months, the fact remains that a majority of Americans celebrate Christmas.
Whether religious or not, those celebrating Dec. 25 can’t deny the Christian origins of the holiday. Christmas as a word originates from Old English and means Christ, Mass. The very term holiday also comes from Old English and means holy day. Even the classic CocaCola Santa Claus originated from religion. Saint Nicholas, a Christian bishop from Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire, was the inspiration for the famous character of Santa Claus.
According to legend, the bishop would leave mysterious gifts for the poor and needy. He once placed money in the house of a man who couldn’t afford his daughter’s dowry and, when he was found out, asked that his identity be kept secret. This started the imagery of St. Nicholas visiting in the night and leaving gifts. The image of Saint Nicholas changed in 1931 when Coca-Cola introduced a jolly and plump old man sporting a full white beard and clear blue eyes.
Appearances aside, the meaning behind the man, from a general standpoint, remained the same: a mysterious giver of gifts to those deserving of them. But when it comes time for seasonal greetings, America seems to be tied. According to Public Religion Research Institute, 47% of Americans believe stores should use generic greetings during the season and 46% believe the traditional phrase should be kept. So, what’s the cause for this divide? The world’s growing, and with it the attempts of being inoffensive. But why would it be offensive to wish someone a Merry Christmas, even if they don’t celebrate it? Simply apologize and move on, no harm done.
According to PRRI, 43% of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday while 56% view it as either being a somewhat religious or not too religious holiday. It’s perhaps this very percentage why the mindset of saying Merry Christmas is declining. The holiday seems to be becoming more about the monetary attributes than Christian origins. This shifting viewpoint would probably cause more people to replace the traditional phrase with a phrase that would garner more spending in stores. But shouldn’t Christmas be about spending time with family and not spending time with cash? If the chances are high that most Americans celebrate Christmas, then it shouldn’t be a scandalous action to wish that someone has a merry one.
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