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Courting Controversy; “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays”

Flickr users CCAC North Library and squarepants2004j/auntyhuia

If you want a surefire way to start a debate, ask someone if they think we should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” this time of year.

Understandably, there are some very strong opinions when it comes to this topic. On one hand, some of us who celebrate Christmas feel like saying “happy holidays” is disrespecting to the largest seasonal holiday in America, while some of us who don’t celebrate Christmas may feel like saying “merry Christmas” is disrespecting to the other holidays that are celebrated this same time of year, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and a variety of other religious and non-religious celebrations.

Personally, I am half Catholic and half Jewish. I was raised celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. In fact, to this day at my mother’s house, we put a Star of David as the star on top of our Christmas tree as a nod to my upbringing. My choice this time of year is to say “happy holidays” as not only an acknowledgement of my diverse upbringing, but also as a way of not making assumptions of others and what they may or may not celebrate.

In this day and age it’s impossible to assume whether someone celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, none, or even all. I look at my friends John and Elaine as a great example. They are both from Christian backgrounds and grew up celebrating Christmas. When they had a child they decided to raise him decorating a Christmas tree as well as lighting Menorah candles. I think that’s a great way to raise a new generation to have an understanding of and respect for a variety of cultures.

I think where some may lose sight of the spirit of the season is when offense is taken. Whether someone says to you “merry Christmas” or “happy holidays”, the intention is the same, to wish you the best during the holiday season.

Do you have an opinion on “merry Christmas” vs. “happy holidays”? Feel free to chime in on the comments section below (but let’s be respectful of each other, please).

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