Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

VALDOSTA — Until a relatively few years ago, no one seemed to have a problem with either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” as a greeting until some national chain stores took the fairly ridiculous step of renaming Christmas trees as Holiday trees, and outright banning employees from wishing anyone a Merry Christmas. In response, other folks took the view that such things meant there was an all-out war on Christmas. A Christmas tree should be called a Christmas tree. But also people would well remember that “Happy Holidays” is a greeting of goodwill rather than a personal insult.

“Happy Holidays” is nothing new. It’s been around for years. The greeting covers a lot of ground. It covers Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and Kwanzaa.

But “Happy Holidays” also covers several Christmas-related holidays. “Happy Holidays” covers Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and those 12 Days of Christmas which actually start Dec. 25 running through Jan. 5. The Sixth of January is the Epiphany celebrated as the day when the Three Wise Men arrived to see the baby Jesus; Jan. 6 is also known as Three Kings Day.

In our society, when several days, such as Labor Day, are referred to as holidays, we tend to forget the real meaning of this word, too. Holiday means “holy day.”

Happy Holy Days, though one wouldn’t know it from the scorn the greeting often receives. And that may be the most important thing to remember.

Whether it is “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” both are meant to wish someone well.

Treating a greeting and warm wishes as a threat does nothing to brighten the world. Responding to a greeting with an actual threat or even a sneer does nothing to put the Christ back into Christmas. Anger and scorn remove Christ from the equation no matter how many times one says Merry Christmas.

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