With Thanksgiving behind us and December having arrived, Christmas songs and snow greeting us seem appropriate for the season. But, shouldn’t a greeting of “Merry Christmas” be just as appropriate?
In the ever-perennial season of political correctness, some may say no. After all, not everyone is Christian, so why should other religions be ignored?
Although it may be tempting to say, “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead, any reference to religion becomes eliminated. These greetings in themselves are practically meaningless. A holiday from what? What is so particular about greeting me and having a holiday in this season? These slogans such as “Happy Holidays” are about as empty in meaning as “Change,” “Yes We Can” and “Hope.” Given this emptiness and complete exclusion of religion, there is nothing diverse about saying “holidays” at all.
This is the complete opposite of what proponents of saying “Happy Holidays” claim. An MSNBC article Tuesday quoted a Best Buy spokesperson, who explained that a couple years ago the chain removed references to Christmas from its advertising because of fears of disrespecting traditions occurring around the same period that do not relate to Christmas. Yet the claim that removing Christmas from advertising respects diversity is counter-productive. Removing Christmas from advertisements during the Christmas season puts sole emphasis on secularism, which eliminates the possibility of having religious diversity in the first place.
In the same article, a woman who opposes businesses’ references to Christmas claims that doing so is arrogant and that by saying “Merry Christmas,” people are directly saying their religious views are superior. In our society, everyone is allowed to have their own beliefs. If they did not believe those beliefs were in any way superior, they would not hold them. By declaring, “Merry Christmas,” one isn’t striking down those who wouldn’t partake in Christmas celebrations, but merely extending blessings within the confines of the traditions of Christmas.
Ben Stein, in particular, wrote in a post on his Web site barely a week before Christmas in 2005 about how incorporating Christmas to a greater extent during the season reflects the diversity of different traditions and that those traditions should not allow any form of atheism to hold them back. Ben Stein, who is Jewish, says he isn’t offended in the slightest if someone says “Merry Christmas” to him. It’s merely a reflection of how various people have a joyous celebration, not one tradition being shoved down the throat of another.
It is also telling how those who would rather not associate with Christmas and are offended whenever “Merry Christmas” is said to non-Christians, while these same non-Christians engage in traditions that are derived from Christmas itself. It is hypocritical for one to campaign against using “Merry Christmas” while at the same time enjoying the benefits of Christmas, such as a “holiday” from school and work, and traditions easily associated with Christmas such as gift exchanges and a Christmas tree.
There may be some who say that worrying whether “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” is used is trivial, that charitable acts themselves are more important traditions associated with Christmas than the holiday’s label. One must, however, wonder how the courage to engage in charity as a Christmas tradition can be mustered if one can’t even use the name of the season without regret or embarrassment.
Christmas is highly integrated into our society, and anyone can celebrate the traditions that Christmas brings. While engaging in those traditions, however, explanations for the true religious spirit of Christmas should be welcomed, not demonized. If so, political correctness will have destroyed a significant portion of our culture that routinely engages in the selflessness of others, especially when God is at the root of this giving.
Stephen Ontko is a senior economics major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]