Holiday Face-off: The struggle for sensible season’s greetings: Merry Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you? For some, it is considered to be one of the greatest events in human history — the birth of Christ. To others, it’s a day when kids lie awake in excitement and wait for some jolly old man in a red suit to pass over their houses and leave presents under the tree (or your father in a Christmas suit who manages to trick you into thinking that Santa is real). For others still, it’s a time when families enjoy each other’s company and celebrate that they’ve made it through another year.
I don’t mean to be sentimental — I blame all of that on Christmas cheer — but the point I’m trying to make is that Christmas means something different to everyone. It’s not just a singular idea, so replacing the greeting with “Happy Holidays” seems rather pointless.
I understand the reasoning behind it: Not everyone is Christian and many don’t even celebrate the holiday. “Happy Holidays” is used as a generic greeting so that no one feels left out or even offended by the suggestion that every American is a Christian.
However, isn’t the most stunning thing about our country the fact that it’s home to a variety of different cultures and religions? I realize it’s for that very reason that people are calling for “Happy Holidays” to be exclusively used in public settings. Yet the fact that we’re a mixing pot of all these various cultures is why I think we should allow “Merry Christmas” to stick around.
This is not a call for people to stop whining or a suggestion that Christmas is the superior holiday; rather, I’m arguing that because Christmas is, for better or worse, an integral part of our American culture, and it’s a culture that is certainly worth celebrating rather than hiding from out of fear that someone might get upset. And why stop there? Why not have retailers use “Happy Kwanzaa,” “Happy Hanukkah” or any other religious greeting? If we’re going to recognize that we are a multicultural society, then I think we should stop being so afraid of offending someone and celebrate this fact.
I realize I’m talking in a highly idealized fashion and the issue here is far more complicated than something that can be contained in a mere editorial article. But I think there is some truth to this and using “Happy Holidays” serves the exact opposite of its purpose; it morphs and blends all these cultures into this homogenized blob that can easily be sold to anyone.
Ultimately, it’s all about family and love regardless of what you believe in, and some of that reading gets lost in “Happy Holidays.” So again I ask: What does Christmas mean to you?
-Chris Exantus
Senior journalism major

Printed in the 12-7-12 edition

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