Holiday Faceoff – Happy Holidays

By Brittany Phillips

The holiday season has finally arrived. Malls are bustling with eager customers; stores are promoting their best sales of the year in preparation for the masses of shoppers; holiday music has begun to play on the radio; and plans are already being made to see relatives and friends during this festive time. It may seem insignificant at first, but during this time of the year, many individuals decide to wish a “Merry Christmas” to those they cross paths with. The problem with these two words, as harmless as they may seem, is that they represent insensitivity towards individuals who do not celebrate Christmas at all.

This is emphasized by the fact that there are large numbers of people who believe in Christianity and celebrate Christmas.  Kwanzaa, which celebrates the African culture and heritage; New Year’s, the celebration of a brand new year beginning; and Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of lights, are just a few of the other holidays that occur during the winter season. There are some individuals who choose to not celebrate any of these holidays at all, and to wish them a “Merry Christmas” can be offensive even if the intention behind the words is one of kindness. With so many holidays associated with religion and beliefs, saying “Merry Christmas” is like attacking one’s personal beliefs.

I have witnessed firsthand that there are some individuals who are highly sensitive in regards to their religious beliefs. I have been at stores where an associate will wish someone a “Merry Christmas,” only to have customers respond rudely and in an ill-mannered way when the employee’s intention was to be polite. In the end, both the customer and the employee had their feelings hurt when the original intention was kindness.

Though many have been offended, it is not just because of words said this time of year. Each year commercials are filled with images of Santa Claus, advertisements and promotions for Christmas shopping. Rarely does a viewer turn on the television to see an ad geared towards Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, for example. It is not difficult to understand why people would be upset by the constant reminders of a religious holiday that they do not believe in.

It should not be expected that everything about the holidays be changed, because one must take into account that Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in our country. There may not be a solution to satisfy each individual’s point of view when it comes to the use of “Merry Christmas,” but if every person could take the time to wish a “Happy Holidays” or a “Seasons Greetings,” it would be much less offensive. Using the less offensive saying would help to prevent the meaning and the sentiment behind the words from being so easily lost. Taking an extra moment to be receptive towards the beliefs of others could make a very significant difference in another’s day.

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