Though this article is not relevant to the majority of Orthodox Christians (since most of Orthodoxy is still on the Church– ahem, Julian– Calendar), it is worth reading considering the rise of secularism and the “good fruit” of ecumenism. NFTU
(Tri-state Defender) So, do you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? It’s shaping up to be one of the great debates of this young century.
For Christians, the holiday season is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The season carries different meanings, however, for other religious and cultural groups. This time of year, Jewish Americans are celebrating the eight-day Jewish holiday ‘Hanukkah,’ meaning the festival of lights. Many African Americans are celebrating Kwanzaa, the festival that celebrates family roots and culture. For many atheists and agnostics, the season is a festive time to exchange presents and celebrate family.
The adoption of the phrase “happy holidays” by retailers and businesses has caused both concern and anguish among Christian communities who argue their faith and religion are being pushed into the background.
Moreover, they note that the phrase “Merry Christmas” still has widespread public support. Rasmussen Reports, the company who conducted the survey on the importance of Christmas for Americans, found in 2006 that 69 percent American adults use the phrase “Merry Christmas” compared to one in four who prefers “Happy Holidays.”
Some retailers are now taking a stand for “Merry Christmas.” Hewlett and Dunn Boots, a Collierville company, is currently running a TV ad proclaiming great western wear and its Merry Christmas greeting policy.
Dr. Yvonne Osborne of Midtown and Ester Patrick of South Memphis, like 64 percent of Americans surveyed by Rasmussen, see Christmas as a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus.
“Happy Holidays is generic and anti-Christian,’ said Dr. Osborne, a psychologist. A member of St. Andrew AME, she added that because her clients are diverse so she uses Happy Holidays at work and uses “Merry Christmas” in her personal life.
A long time LeBonheur employee and year-in, year-out Grizzlies fan, Patrick said, “I like “Merry Christmas” because of what it stands for.”
“For me, it’s a symbol of Jesus Christ. Happy Holidays is non-offensive to different faiths,” said the Vision Temple Ecumenical Church member. “But, “Happy Holidays” could mean anything, including Happy Turkey Day.”
Inclusion is precisely why Kenneth Johnson prefers “Happy Holidays.” A local truck driver, Johnson said, “I like “Happy Holidays”. I don’t want to offend anyone. “Happy Holidays” is more appealing, telling you to be happy and enjoy the holidays and to make the best of it.”
Johnson says that “Merry Christmas” symbolizes children and their toys. “I’ve moved beyond that,” said Johnson, who admits to spoiling his 17-year-old daughter with presents. “Merry Christmas reminds me of Santa Claus. Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year – Happy Holidays covers all of them.”
Holiday Vs. Christmas
The wave of political correctness in using the phrase “Happy Holidays” runs afoul of public opinion, wrote Rasmussen on its www.rasmussenreports.com website. Sixty-nine percent (69 percent) of Americans said they preferred stores to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their seasonal advertising instead of “Happy Holidays.”
According to the 2006 poll, only 23 percent of 1,000 adults surveyed preferred the generic greeting. This meant that companies like Wal-Mart, who instituted a 2005 policy mandating employees use “Happy Holidays,” reversed itself the next year in 2006. The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart and other stores that banned the use of the term “Merry Christmas” in their holiday merchandising. By reversing itself, Wal-Mart became a hero in some circles.
The Young Crowd
Interestingly, a new 2008 survey by Rasmussen Reports found that more women under 40 (70 percent) than women over 40 (63 percent) share the opinion that Christmas is the most important holiday.
Yolonda Spinks, 30, is a member of New Olivet Baptist Church and an adult student at LeMoyne Owen College.
“I’m not bother by either (of the two greetings),” said Spinks. “On Dec. 25, I’m celebrating the birth of Jesus.”
“I prefer ‘Merry Christmas’,” said the New Olivet Baptist Church member. “We have a diverse country now. It’s not Wal-Mart making employees say ‘Happy Holidays.’ It’s what you believe inside, as long as you know in your heart what you celebrate.”
Nineteen-year-old James “PJ” Shell doesn’t see the question as a big deal either. A member of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, he said that he always says “Merry Christmas.” His reason why? “I guess that’s how I was taught,” said Shell.
The breakdown of who says what also can be divided by political party. In 2006, more Republicans, 85 percent, favored use of “Merry Christmas” than Democrats (61 percent) and Independents (60 percent).
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, reports Rasmussen, 59 percent of Americans will attend a Christian Church service. By the numbers, married and middle income individuals are more likely to attend those services. Also, 81 percent of Americans will enjoy a big Christmas dinner with family or friends.
And, while 64 percent of Americans are celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday, there are 23 percent who treat it as a secular holiday and six percent who do not celebrate it at all.
Moreover, of the 69 percent who use “Merry Christmas” while greeting others, 71 percent are not offended by being greeted with “Happy Holidays.”