In these special times of peace and good will towards our fellow man, there’s surely one thing that a person can say that will draw the ire of certain celebrants: Happy Holidays.
I’m sorry, but that bit of political correctness has just gone a bit too far for some who feel that there’s this vast conspiracy to dilute or minimize the celebration of the word that cannot be said: Christmas. Yes, Virginia, there are people who believe that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” will somehow make people forget the true meaning of the holiday and turn us all into atheistic solstice-celebrating heathens.
Peace on Earth my hindquarters (and Merry Christmas, Afghanistan)!
Radio talk show hosts, television commentators, and other such pundits have taken a position that equates “Happy Holidays” with “I’m an unpatriotic Jesus-hater.” And just forget “Seasons Greetings” – that’s right out. Some of these voices in the media have declared that there is a war on Christmas being waged by “secular progressives.” Fox News bit player John Gibson actually wrote a book titled, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.
And you just thought you were wishing someone “Happy Holidays.”
The truth is that there are a number of holidays celebrated this time of year (perhaps that’s why they call it “the holiday season”). Christmas now begins sometime in October, because the first holiday (I mean Christmas) displays go up in the stores before Halloween. November brings us Thanksgiving, which is notable for the arrival of the patron saint of Thanksgiving (Santa Claus) in New York City at the Holiday Temple (Christmas Shrine) known as Macy’s. And December? Christmas is basically celebrated all month long, with parties, decorations, lights, libations, and fattening sugar-laden treats. By the way, there’s also Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve.
There are other truths about our Christmas traditions that may not be as well known as others. First of all, there is no biblical reference that states that Jesus was born in December. The early Christian church chose December so that it could compete with pagan solstice rituals going on at the same time. Santa Claus (formerly St. Nicholas) was the Bishop of Myra (located in present-day Turkey) and was reputed to be generous and kind to children before he was given a new red suit and exiled to the North Pole.
Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ. Holly was also used in celebrations because, like mistletoe, it remained green throughout the winter months. The first Christmas trees were fir trees decorated in Germany. In those heady holidays before the advent of electricity, candles were used to light the tree. In fact, those candles often really did light the trees, as well as the houses and belongings of those who put open flames on drying pine trees.
The Christmas we celebrate today is a combination of festivities and traditions of many cultures. And it happens at a time of year that combines a number of other celebrations into one big event known as the Holiday Season. And who’s making rules that say we can’t celebrate all of them? The more, the merrier in this merriest of seasons, I say.
One Christmas tradition that deserves to be celebrated is the concept of Peace on Earth to men of good will. Judging from the not-so-peaceful history of the past 2,000 years, there haven’t been too many “men of good will.” That’s a change I’d certainly like to see, and that’s a change we could all believe in. And maybe that’s what the Holiday Season is really all about. Perhaps one day, when we remove our collective head from our collective backside, we may come a little closer to real Peace on Earth. Condemning those who wish us Happy Holidays as anti-Christian warriors, however, won’t get us there.
So Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Peaceful Solstice, and a Happy New Year to all. Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, make a joyful noise and have a wonderful time.