A few weeks ago I read a letter to the editor which basically said that anyone who says, “Happy Holidays,” is a P.C., Christmas-hating, God-ridiculing, Communist. Okay, so those weren’t his exact words, but he was clear that he was not a fan of the alliterative greeting.
I really do not understand why people do not like the greeting “Happy Holidays.” I too celebrate Christmas, but if I want to say, “Happy Holidays,” does that make me less Christian? Is saying “Merry Christmas,” really the badge of true Christianity? When someone says “Merry Christmas,” are they then keeping the day holy?
The only reason most people care about whether or not you say “HH” or “MC” is because Bill O’Reilly made it a big deal. Before he claimed that there is a “war on Christmas,” no one noticed said war. “Seasons Greetings,” and “Happy Holidays” have been accepted greetings for years. There is an old Christmas song, “Happy Holidays,” that no one seemed to mind. The word holiday is a contraction of the words holy day, so in effect, we are saying “Happy Holy Days,” thus keeping Christmas holy.
Plus, this is simply the time of year when there are a lot of holy days. Beginning with Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and New Years, this is considered the holiday season. I’m not sure why acknowledging a coincidence of our calendar is somehow seen as “attacking Christmas.” Another holy day in this season is Hannukah. Hannukah is actually a minor feast day in the Jewish tradition, but has been co-opted for commercial reasons. Much like Christmas was.
For many centuries Christmas was not a holiday. Two of the four Biblical Gospels give no account of Jesus’ birth, and Matthew and Luke have almost no references back to the birth stories once they are over. The birth stories were not a big deal to early Christians. Christmas only became a holiday as a way to appease pagans in the Roman empire. It is little more than a co-opted winter festival.
But today it has become an important holiday. Not only in our religion, but more so in our culture and economy. Many retailers depend on the holiday season to survive. And mind you, not everyone buying a bunch of crap at Christmas time is Christian. For the most part, Christmas has become a cultural holiday – driven by economic need much more than religious fervor.
So when people get angry when someone says “Happy Holidays,” I get angry that they are angry. If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, worry about things more important than the signs and decorations at JC Penney. You think Christmas should be about Christ? Then take up your cross and follow Jesus – not into department stores, but into the prisons, the hospitals, among the poor and the outcast. You get angry when someone doesn’t say “Christmas?” Try getting angry over Christ’s children dying of malnutrition or AIDS. Try getting angry over the fact that the Christmas chocolate you love so much was kept cheap on the back of the working poor. Try getting angry over the fact that Christians are keeping people out of churches with their closed minds and closed doors.
You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Try putting Christ in your life first. Then we’ll talk about how to greet each other. And if you want a truly Christian greeting, one that makes no mistake whether or not you follow the Christ child, try, “the peace of Christ be with you.”