Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

Greetings should come before political correctness

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

‘Tis the festive season once again, and I am all a-twitter with glee.

The snow is falling and the air is crisp. I get to walk to school and watch under-dressed and unappreciative students quiver and scowl, and it makes the smile on my face grow wider and wider with my love for winter and all the things it brings.

One of the joys I find is in wishing well to those around me. “Merry Christmas,” I’ll say with warmth in my heart.

But alas, everywhere I turn, the jovial season is not quite so jovial.

The phrases “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” are pieces of holiday drivel. The phrases themselves are quite friendly, but the reason they are used " to avoid offending a potential non-Christmas celebrator with a Christmas greeting, is ridiculous.

In saying “Happy Holidays,” you have the same potential to offend as saying “Merry Christmas.”

Say, for example, you are addressing someone with no celebratory allegiance during this time of year. In fact, they might be more offended by the “Happy Holidays” greeting, since it implies everyone needs to be celebrating something this time of year.

It is surprising Canadians are able to communicate positive messages to each other 11 months of the year. After all, if there isn’t a holiday season, how do we ever greet each other?

During the year, I make an effort to wish friends well on the holidays that mean something to them. I attempt to say “Happy New Year” to my Chinese friends when they welcome another turn of the calendar. Similarly, I try to learn the appropriate greetings for friends who celebrate Yom Kippur, Diwali or any other festivity.

Realistically, if you are worried about offending someone, don’t say anything unless you know what they celebrate. Or better yet, ask, and learn something about a new friend.

However, there is no reason to be worried about offending. I celebrate Christmas, so I say Merry Christmas. It is a hypersensitive individual who takes offence in having something positive said to them.

I don’t mind being wished an enjoyable Hanukkah or a fantastic Ramadan. Actually, it is great to hear friends enjoying their own holiday so much they want to share with others.

Maybe this kind of sharing would remove boundaries in our society. Here’s a crazy thought: maybe being open and tolerant would help us avoid the kind of drab, colourless society where everyone is afraid to offend everyone else all of the time.

Now someone is going to try and say I’m okay with saying “Merry Christmas” because I’m in the Christian majority and don’t have to worry about my beliefs being overrun by the multitudes around me.

But I disagree. I’m not Christian, and my happy, family-oriented secular Xmas is constantly under attack by those wishing to put the Christ back in Christmas.

That was offside, but my point is that even the majority has their inner debates. This season isn’t the same for everyone, so why use a greeting that says it is?

Everyone has their own views on this season. Let’s celebrate the differences as well as the similarities.

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