Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays: FIGHT!
This Christmas season, like every Christmas season, we are getting the chance to revisit the age-old conflict between those who say "Merry Christmas" and those who say "Happy Holidays." One's choice of holiday greeting can quickly become the subject of discussion, dispute, debate and finally fist fights and assaults. A few days ago, a Salvation Army Bell Ringer found herself physically assaulted
for telling the wrong person "Happy Holidays."
It should go without saying (but apparently it doesn't) that the hostility and attitude on display when it comes to "Merry Christmas"/"Happy Holidays" these days is not exactly in the Christmas spirit. Some people who say "Happy Holidays" are accused of trying to "take Christ out of Christmas," and some may well be, but many others might just be hoping to meet someone who celebrates Hanukkah
, Kwanzaa, Festivus
, or even more controversial and/or fictitious holidays.
Of course, the joke is always on the people who say happy holidays in an effort to take religion out of the equation. As our famous national physicist and astronomer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, recently pointed out via Twitter
, the word "holidays" is derived from "holy days," and so, the supposedly secular "happy holiday" wishers are actually making a specific reference to the "reason for the season." Christmas warrior Bill O'Reilly
would be calling the happy holidays crowd out for suckers if he could have gotten into Bronx Science alongside Tyson, but he was stuck at Chaminade
At the same time, some "Merry Christmas" wishers find themselves uttering the words "Merry Christmas" in an increasingly defiant and confrontational tone until it almost sounds like "Merry Christmas, d*** you!" That's getting a little further away yet from "peace on earth and goodwill to men." The Christian theologian, C.S. Lewis, reminded us in his masterful book, The Screwtape Letters
, that one of the devil's favorite tricks was to stir up dispute, anger and even hatred between human beings over matters with as little significance as possible
. He used the example of stirring up fights between Christians who prefer to say "Mass" and those who say "Holy Communion." The less there is at stake, the more pointlessly hostile and uncharitable the fights will be. The perpetual argument over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays is very much in the spirit of what Lewis was talking about.
Anyway, the whole thing is a distraction from the important things in life, such as who says "let's go Mountaineers," who says "let's go Pitt," and who says "let's go Irish." Now that's something worth getting into a solid fistfight about.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa!, and Celebrate Festivus (with the rest of us), this Yule Season, America.