A young foreign exchange student once asked me what Americans do on Christmas Day. Initially, I thought he was trying to test me on my knowledge of a holiday that I’ve celebrated all my life, but he was genuinely curious as to what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in the United States. I gave a short and frank answer: “Most of us spend it with our family.”
I didn’t expect to receive such a sour look from him, and in his broken Korean-English, he also told me something I never knew: “Why you do that? At my home, you should celebrate with your honey.”
And by “honey,” he meant your significant other. He explained that Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day were basically the same holidays happening during different seasons. Now I don’t know how much truth his words hold, considering that I myself am not Korean and I have never visited the country, but I do have a lot of Korean friends who are Christians and they seem to have no problem with the recurring issue that isn’t really that serious, but seems to have no solution.
Let us shift now.
To this day, the “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays” dispute is still going on. A number of Christians and their views on the holiday vary widely. For example, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has stated his fear and concern for his fellow Christians, making the strong claim that with the alteration of Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays, it is in a sense constricting Christians from openly practicing their faith in America. On the other hand, Rev. Paul Raushenbush, an Executive Editor from the Huffington Post, has taken it as a good sign that perhaps there is more willingness to accept the growing mélange of people in the United States.
With such a variety of differing opinions, who are we to trust?
“Happy Holidays” is not negating “Merry Christmas” in any way, but most Christians believe so (or they at least make it look like they do)—and it’s purely arrogant to have such thoughts for if you wouldn’t scold a child wishing you “Happy Holidays” with good intentions, there is no reason to scold an adult who has the same objective.
There is so much naiveté in children who are not taught that Christmas is an annual celebration of Christ’s birthday. They only know it to be a holiday that comes once every year, and when that day comes, they get a number of gifts from parents and aunts and uncles. A great example is the children of my own family, whose eyes light up when they see the Christmas tree being put up because it means that soon, the bottom of the tree will have boxes strewn about in disarray. They know nothing of it being “Christ’s day.”
In his own article, Raushenbush has made an attempt at putting an end to the feud, clarifying that December is a month of many holidays. He makes his point very clear with the last sentence alone:
So, Merry Christmas, Christians; Happy Hanukkah, Jews; Super Solstice, Pagans; Hurray, Human Light Humanists; Joyous Kwanzaa to African Diaspora and to everyone all together — Happy Holidays. See you at the party!
Would you look at how much sense that makes? Here is a graphic to step on that point even more (http://www.religioustolerance.org):
Everyone gives their own meaning to the holiday, and they obviously celebrate in different ways for different reasons (the foreign exchange student, for example), so to have people bickering back and forth about who’s right and who’s wrong does no good for any audience or generation of people. It is meant to be a good season for many people, but all the negativity and the futile fighting turns it into a less-than-enjoyable time of year. There is nothing “merry” or “happy” about the month of December and the holidays it bears if everyone wants to put a label on it.
Think of it in terms of sight and the big picture: You may think that squinting your eyes will help you see each and every one of the details better, but all you are really doing is closing your eyes, and there is no way you can see the broader portrait with your eyes clenched shut.
By Kabao Lor
Kuruvilla, Carol. “Are You Being Persecuted This Christmas? Here’s A Helpful Chart.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 08 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/08/war-on-christmas-happy-holidays_n_6289542.html>.
Raushenbush, Paul Brandeis. “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas: The Last Thing That Ever Needs To Be Said About It.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/happy-holiday-vs-merry-ch_b_4384874.html>.
Image #1. <http://theguycornernyc.com/tag/merry-christmas/>.