Who hasn’t heard someone debate merry Christmas or happy holidays?
Merry Christmas is a short way to say, ‘Enjoy the time spent with your family this season’
Wishing someone “merry Christmas” is much better than wishing “happy holidays”. Though Christmas began as a Christian holiday, it has become something much bigger than that. Christmas brings families together in the simple joys of decorating the tree, gorging on homemade food, and trying to be a little nicer to each other—and that’s something that anyone in any religion can relate to.
Wishing someone Happy Holidays is incredibly vague. Think about it: I could wish you or happy holiday on the first day of summer vacation or on Thanksgiving Monday. What makes Christmas special is the fact that it’s only one day out of 365.
Even if you decide that you’re done wishing people a merry Christmas, the saying is already embedded in Western popular culture. Should we replace all the Christmas songs with happy holiday songs? Besides the fact that it would take a ridiculous amount of effort, the songs would lose their meaning.
Anyone who has grown up with classic Christmas tunes will understand that changing songs like “Joy to the World” or “The First Noel” will destroy the whole point of the songs—and forget about the rhyme scheme.
In our superficial and individualistic world, it’s nice to be reminded that there’s a point to all this Christmas stuff. When you’re rushing to the overcrowded mall for the 14th time in a week because you forgot to buy a present for Uncle Joe, you’re in the worst possible mood, and the only thing you want to do is get home and drown your sorrows in a non-virgin eggnog, having someone wish you “merry Christmas” should be a reminder that the holidays aren’t just about getting more material objects. It’s about focusing on more time (than you could ever want) with your family.
Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, or even non-religious, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know where Christmas originated. You’re free to believe that Jesus wasn’t real, but the fact that he brings millions of people around the world together every year is more than any “holidays” could ever do.
Ho ho hold the arguments and just say happy holidays already
I think the first question that one should ask is why we say “merry Christmas” in the first place. It seems as though saying “merry Christmas” has become a type of salutation, like hello or good evening, during late November all the way until Dec. 25. When you break it down though, saying “merry Christmas” to someone implies that you want that person to have a joyous Christmas Day.
If someone tells me to have a merry Christmas, I say thank you because my Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic family celebrates Christmas. But it’s quite presumptuous of that person to tell me to have a merry Christmas, since generally I’d be displaying no visible signs of actually celebrating it—unless on that specific day I decided to wear a sweater that says, “I will be participating in this Christmas thing,” or something similar.
It’s that presumptuousness that causes many non-Christmas celebrators to get a little upset. Why tell someone to have a merry Christmas if they don’t celebrate it? It makes no sense.
To say “merry Christmas” to someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas can be equated to saying “happy birthday” to someone when it’s not their birthday. It’s pointless and confusing for the person who has to accept and respond to the greeting.
“Uh, thanks, I guess, but my birthday’s not for six months.”
“Uh, thanks, I guess, but I don’t celebrate Christmas.”
One part of this debate that will always confuse me is why it’s such a big deal to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” to people you don’t know. If it’s accepted amongst your friends and family that “merry Christmas” is OK to say, that’s fine, have at it. But if we’re aware that “merry Christmas” bothers certain people, then why not slightly alter what we say?
People tend to counter this argument with, “It’s a tradition to say ‘merry Christmas.’” Seriously guys? Don’t go there. We can all name countless traditions that were changed because they no longer suited the times. Shark fin soup is being banned all around the world, awesome means something completely different than it did 200 years ago, and hopefully pretty soon everyone in Canada—a country that is supposed to accept and allow people from all cultures to feel comfortable celebrating their own traditions—will say “happy holidays” to strangers and friends during the month of December.