I like saying Merry Christmas. It makes me feel happy and brings forth the scent of pine and cinnamon, cookies baking in the oven, family and friends. It’s a time to infuse light into the darkest days, which is a gift from it’s pagan, solstice oriented roots. But lately I’ve felt myself trip over the words in favor of the more socially correct Happy Holidays. How did a greeting indigenous to a country of people become political anyway?
Though pagan in nature, Christmas has been so closely aligned with Christianity that there are those on Madison Avenue who create cultural impressions who do not wish such a mass celebration of either – other than to worship the retail involved. Pegged as Christian in a nation of diversity, it has been labeled as exclusive in nature to deliver the familiar words of the American holiday tradition – Merry Christmas. Never mind that only 3.5% of our country’s population is made up of Jews, Arabs and East Indians (Hindus) and a sizeable portion of them are secular. Buddhists are laid back and honor all religions so there are no protests there. So how did we get hoodwinked into relinquishing perhaps the merriest greeting of all?
I have been in a number of other countries during the Christmas season including Israel where we spent Christmas, Hanukkah and Hajj. No one adjusted their native greeting to accommodate a group of westerners and presumed Christians. Nor would we have expected them to. Yet, here in what has traditionally been a Christian, or at least Christmas, based culture, we are now expected to dim our sentiments down to accommodate a miniscule portion of the poulation. Personally, I don’t want to do it anymore. “Happy Holidays” stumbles from my lips, a lifeless and compromised offering to the season of joy.
So, here I am, past cultural correctness and back to my days of merriment happily offering my seasons greetings to anyone who resonates in turn – Merry Christmas to all!