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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Perhaps "Happy Holidays" is better after all...

Every year, my Facebook feed is filled with rants about how we are slowly taking the Christ out of Christmas and how we should be able to say "Merry Christmas" because we are the most Christian nation in the world.

But perhaps we should be saying Happy Holidays instead. Not because it might offend someone, but because it makes more sense.

There are four major holidays within three weeks of each other in late December/ early January. Why should we wish good cheer for only one? Simply because we are the most Christian county? Even if that were true, we still shouldn't just say "Merry Christmas."

First: We, as a collective nation, are none more Christian than any other country. While many state and federal laws are more conforming to Judeo-Christian doctrine than the laws of other modern entities, we are none more religious. While 73% of Americans claim to be Christians, only 36% attend church regularly when possible. Also, there is the remaining 27% that is either non-Christian religious, Atheist/Agnostic, or simply unsure. And in a Republic, (Which is not the same as democracy, and we do not live true democracy. We never have.) the majority doesn't over-rule the minority. That's the sort of thing the constitution sought to prevent with the Senate having two representatives from each state regardless of population. But, if we say for a minute that the majority DOES rule, only 9% of all Americans believe that religion is the most important thing in their lives. That's a pretty small minority.

There is also a belief that the Founding Fathers were Christians, celebrated Christmas, and founded America on Christian principles. None of these are true. While the term "Founding Fathers" includes a WIDE group, well over a thousand, we usually think of the Framers, of the men who wrote the constitution and played a major impact on it's creation. Of this group, there are many agnostics, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. While there are several references to God in the DoI and Constitution, none of them specifically refer to a Judean-Christian God. 

As long as we are considering the early years of America and the intentions of the Founding Fathers, you might be surprised to find Christmas wasn't celebrated in Early America. Most Americans wanted nothing to do with anything British, which included the celebration of Christmas. (It's worth noting here than Christmas was more like a New Years back then.) In fact December 25th is nothing Christian at all. It's a pagan holiday that was christianized during the first crusades. The Bible tells us that Christ was born near Passover, which is in April. Most Christmas celebrations, including gifts, lights, and trees, have pagan roots. That doesn't diminish or change the Christian symbolism, but it does put things in a more realistic light. (The same for Easter. It's the same story.)

Finally, why should "Happy Holidays" offend you? It makes more sense. You wouldn't tell me "Happy Hanuka," and I wouldn't tell a Jewish person "Merry Christmas." When I say Happy Holidays, I'm saying "Happy Hanuka if you're Jewish; Merry Christmas if you're Christian; Happy Kwanza if you're Black, and no matter what you are Happy New-years." It's like a shortened URL.  Stop Getting offended when someone says Happy Holidays, because very few are offended by Christmas.

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