For the longest time in our political and public sphere, the phrase “Happy Holidays” has been considered somewhat controversial due to the supposed war on Christmas. Even President Trump, vows to get rid of the term because it is political correctness at its worst. However, the phrase does not seem to bother or impact anyone except for those that are sensitive to such political correct terminology throughout the United States.
According to polls and public policy research that have been conducted, the phrase doesn’t seem to bother the everyday American and there really isn’t a preference for which greeting they are met with. But, on one hand, it does seem as though the phrase can be disturbing for many far-right conservatives as they claim the phrase takes Christ out of Christmas. They even further claim that by saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, it is a direct attack on the religion of America.
On the other hand, there are even Christian leaders in the political and public sphere that are advocating for the phrase Happy Holidays because it is more inclusive to the other religions existing here in the United States. These Christian leaders claim that imposing the phrase Merry Christmas on others is the antithesis to Christian morals and beliefs. So, what is actually worse? Displacing other religions by forcing the usage of Merry Christmas or displacing the Christian religion by inclusively saying Happy Holidays?
The debate is an ongoing one in which most people do not necessarily care about. Even today, many department stores, radio broadcasts, or television broadcasts will utilize a combination of both phrases. The holiday music that rings through the air during this time of year will also be a combination of renditions of classic christian hymns and mainstream pop holiday music. So, if we are to restrict the usage of phrasing when greeting others this holiday season, are we to also begin censoring our music selections in the public as well?
This just shows that during the holiday season, debates such as the use of Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas is something that can be either taken to a far extreme or just brushed under the rug. However, debates such as this doesn’t negate the fact that everyone is going out to buy the perfect Christmas tree and decorating said tree, families are gathering to enjoy their much needed time off, and children are anxiously anticipating the gifts they will receive under the tree on Christmas morning.
With the the holiday season approaching, for all of us here at JSR, it isn’t about which phrase is more appropriate. Instead, it is about the spirit of the season where all people can enjoy and embrace the love and joy that is spread through giving and sharing.
Whitney M. Ahn
JSR Program Coordinator