BHS Insight

Merry Political Correctness: “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas”

Stephanie Stiles, Staff Writer

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The debate between the greeting Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas is one that consistently appears every December. It wasn’t until President Donald Trump’s recent comments condemning the fact that Christmas is considered politically incorrect, stating that “We’re saying Merry Christmas again,” that this controversial topic put a governmental twist on an old argument.

First of all, I have never ceased to hear people say Merry Christmas; in no way has it died out due to the attempts of political correctness. According to the Pew Research Center “about nine-in-ten Americans (92%) … say they celebrate Christmas.” It is assumed that the majority of these practitioners say “Merry Christmas.”

I love hearing people say “Merry Christmas,” (mostly rooted in my passionate love for Christmas) therefore I see how there is nothing wrong with saying it in someone’s personal life. However, what is said in one’s personal life doesn’t coincide with what is spoken to an entire country or displayed on public property.

When politicians hold a position in office, they are public servants to all the people, not just the ones they agree with, which is why “Merry Christmas” is inappropriate in this setting.

But when our president goes out of his way to impose his Christian beliefs and deem the beliefs of minority groups as less important or as a disruption to the enjoyment of his own beliefs, it is rude and further alienates people who are already quite aware of their minority status. In this circumstance, we are witnessing the failure to maintain separation between church and state.

Besides, I believe it’s ridiculous to deny that between Thanksgiving and the New Year there actually is a holiday season. It’s not as if “Happy Holidays” was coined for the sole purpose of avoiding “Merry Christmas,” but rather to encompass all the holidays that occur during this time, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s.

Due to many industries capitalizing on the vast amount of wealth that this holiday can bring, Christmas has been portrayed in the media as pop culture. Therefore, I think people forget that it is first and foremost a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

When it comes to places of commerce, businesses can’t be blamed for “sucking the cheer out of Christmas,” but merely for trying to turn a profit. Businesses need to appeal to a wide array of customers, as they do not know who will be a client, hence why they use the all-encompassing phrase “Happy Holidays.”

Now, if people become insulted when they walk into a store and see a banner that states “Happy Holidays,” this is being inconsiderate and far too sensitive when things aren’t specified towards what they care about.

On the other hand, to take offense when someone reflexively says “Merry Christmas,” can be inconsiderate as well. My advice is to interpret each phrase as they are meant to be received: greetings of good fortune and basic humanity.

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Merry Political Correctness: “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas”