EDIT: This is an opinion piece based on conversations and comments I have seen concerning the use of Happy Holidays rather than Happy Christmas. It is not intended to be anti-religion rhetoric of any kind, merely questioning those people who I have heard say that the use of a more inclusive phrase during the holiday season is oppressive. This piece is based mostly on personal experience, and what I have experienced may be very different to others. I am only taking quarrel with the anti-PC debaters who say we should not use the phrase Happy Holidays, nobody else!
For those who feel this is not an issue in the UK, just take a look at the comments under the Tesco Christmas Advert and the responses on social media who are very upset about the multicultural nature of the ad!
It’s that time of year again. Michael Buble is defrosting, questionable jumpers are being dragged out of storage and the infamous Starbucks Christmas cups have been released. What this unfortunately means is that the throngs of ‘war on Christmas’ warriors are about to descend. It’s the same story every year – a Christmas card says Happy Holidays, someone refers to the ‘festive period’, the Starbucks cups don’t have a to-scale drawing of Jesus on them and other more equally pedantic grievances, and the anti PC brigade have a cow.
Trump says the war on Christmas is back on. In October at the annual Conservative political conference in Washington DC he said: “They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct”. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas more than anyone else I know, so don’t get confused and think I just don’t care about protecting its supposed sanctity.
The War on Christmas, as it has been come to be known in the US mostly, is created and fought the right-wing, throwing their toys out of the pram at the first hint of their losing power.
The first thing I’m going to say is probably the more simple of my points. The most common thing I hear said about this topic is “We’re a Christian country, so we should celebrate Christmas”. The ebbing and flowing of time doesn’t care what you think your country is. The appeal from tradition is, frankly, boring and holds no water. Not only that, but if we’re going to use this logic to determine what we call this period of the year, Christians are actually in the minority.
While 17.2% of the UK identify as one of the Christian denominations, a record number of people (53%) identify as having no religion at all.
So it would seem that we are actually now an atheist country, and Happy Holidays is the correct phrase to use.
Another point to make is that Jesus is actually thought to have been born in the Autumn. It is believed that the 25th December was settled on as there were already many holidays occurring at this time, including some Pagan festivals. Christians wanted to make it easier to make pagans convert to Christianity, by putting the festivals close together. They also had a tendency to build their Churches on sacred Pagan ground. If we want to really look into it, it seems Christians pretty much stole this time of year from the Pagans celebrating Yule and the Winter Solstice. Does this really give Christians the right then to claim that this is their time and their time alone?
There are so many holidays and traditions that are not related to Christianity, including but not limited to Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day and the Winter Solstice. Calling this time of year the holidays is the best way to encompass all of these celebrations and more!
If you want to know what you should really be upset about, rather than the cashier at a shop working minimum wage who wants to wish you a Happy Holiday, it’s capitalism. The reason why it has become common to hear holiday rather than Christmas is because corporations want to capitalise on as many consumers as possible, without alienating any. Rather than producing cards with the name of every holiday on them, it is much more cost-effective to simply write ‘Happy Holiday’. This means one slogan can be mass-produced and can relate to almost any consumer. Due to the hold that capitalism has on our society, it is no surprise that it may have seeped into our vocabulary. If it upsets you so much, perhaps campaign against fiscal conservatism and capitalism rather than so-called ‘PC Culture’.
My final point is that all this arguing about words is ruining the true spirit of the religious holiday. Christ was born so that he could one day die for our sins – this is basically the ultimate selfless act. However, those who care about ‘the War on Christmas’ are acting in what can only be described as a selfish and egocentric way. By moaning about what a shop has up in its window, or what is on the cups of a multi-national conglomerate, they are turning Christmas into a time for consumerism and thinking only about oneself. Remember the Good Samaritan? Or this quote from Jesus in John 13:34-35?: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. People are literally going against the word of Christ by being nasty to people who just want a more inclusive word to describe this period.
At the end of the day, we currently live in a more divided world than ever. Thanks to the likes of Brexit and Trump, intolerance is at an all time high. Now more than ever is a time to embrace our multi-cultural society, a place of many religions and traditions, to stop us being irreparably divided.
If someone says happy holidays to you and you respond angrily that they should say happy Christmas, I’m afraid you’re just a bit rude.
It literally feels like trying to convince a child it’s nice to share. Holiday and Christmas have become synonymous. It would be like someone saying good day and you shout back that actually they should tell you good afternoon as it’s 3pm. They both have come to mean the exact same thing semantically.
So maybe next time you think about mentioning a ‘War on Christmas’, or berating someone for wishing you a Happy Holidays, think – is this really the hill I want to die on? Protecting a capitalist holiday stolen from the Pagans revolving around a fake birthday? I really hope the answer to that is no.