I’ve got to admit that I don’t understand the anger and controversy over wishing someone happy holidays. As someone who works part-time in retail, I can report that it has gotten pretty tense out there in the greetings department.
I usually respond with whatever the person says to me. If I’m initiating the good wishes, I say Happy Holidays. I’m not trying to take Christ out of Christmas by doing so. I’m simply recognizing that there are other celebrations during December and I don’t want to assume that everyone I interact with is a practicing Christian.
Here are a few of the other December holidays:
- Bodhi Day: December 8 – Buddhist Day of Enlightenment
- Chalica: first week of December – celebrated by some Unitarian Universalists.
- Festivus: December 23 (popularized by Seinfeld)
- Hanukkah or Chanukah: the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December.
- Kwanzaa: December 26 through January 1 – Pan-African festival
- Milad un Nabi: December 12 or 17 – Commemorating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. It is celebrated in the third month of the Islamic calendar with the Shias celebrating it on the 17th of December and the Sunnis celebrating on the 12th.
- Newtonmas: December 25 – Some atheists and skeptics celebrate December 25 due to it being Isaac Newton’s birthday.
- Omisoka: December 31 – Japanese New Year takes place on the last day of the year
- Pancha Ganapati: December 21–25 – Hindu five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha
- Saturnalia: December 17-23 – A Roman winter solstice festival
- Yalda: December 21 – is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil.
- Yule: Pagan winter festival that is celebrated from late December to early January.
Heck, if we took out all the Jews, Arabs and Africans from the birth of Christ, it would look like this:
To those that say this is a Christian nation and we shouldn’t worry about being politically correct, I respond that the Christian thing to do is respect the Other among us.
The bible is filled with passages about being welcoming to strangers (Genesis 19, Leviticus 19:34). Jesus himself was pretty clear about it, too. Give a reread to Matthew 25:31-45:
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be assembled in front of him, and he will cull them out, one from another, like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.
34 Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, 35 because I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
37 Then the righteous will say to him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or see you naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?”
40 The king will answer them, “I tell all of you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”
41 Then he will say to those on his left, “Get away from me, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 Here’s why: I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked, and you didn’t clothe me. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”
44 Then they will reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?”
45 Then he will say to them, “I tell all of you with certainty, since you didn’t do it for one of the least important of these, you didn’t do it for me.”
If you want to do the Christian thing, just be kind to everyone.
And, please, please, don’t be mean to those minimum wage employees in the stores and restaurants you frequent. Most of them are required by their employers to use specific greetings. Instead of reacting badly to either Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, put a smile on your lips and in your heart and return their good wishes.
That is the true spirit of the season.
The title of this piece comes from Hebrews 13:2 – “Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”