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Date: 2005-12-25 23:51
Security: Public
Music:Yanni - In The Morning Light
Tags:christmas, political correctness, polls, public
Subject: Christmas!

[this is a public post]

Merry Christmas!

morti has set an interesting poll: The issue of political correctness aside, would you rather hear "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?

It's an interesting question. The latest post in jayisgames says:

Just a quick update to wish everyone and their loved ones a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, or whatever it is that your religion or your culture celebrates at this time of year.
That's a bit of a mouthful right there, and pretty loaded with vague sentiments. Quite a few other posts on my friends list do a similar thing.

Respecting other people's beliefs is good. But the trouble with a broad statement like the above is that it seems to lose its intent through over-political correctness. It doesn't really mean anything. We try to accommodate everybody in the things we say - and in so doing, lower their meaning for everyone.

"Happy Holidays" is similar, in my opinion. It's so watered-down as to lose its meaning. Each religion celebrates its holidays differently; the mere fact that it's a holiday isn't what makes followers happy. For Christians, it's because of the arrival of Jesus Christ on that first Christmas. For Jews, it's about victory of their faith over Hellenistic civilisation and victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire. You never get religious holidays for the sake of being holidays, so treating them all under an umbrella like that is insulting to everybody involved, except atheists.

What are your views?

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Truck
User: cheesetruck
Date: 2005-12-26 00:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I think the whole war on Christmas is crap (:

Incidentally, if you didn't realize it, you just opened up the latest US 'war' can of worms (:

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Morti
User: morti
Date: 2005-12-26 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Yeah, I'm so glad it hasn't really reached these shores yet. I was watching TV yesterday and all the adverts related to Christmas did say "Merry Christmas" or at least didn't shy away from saying "Christmas". I wondered if that's something that's already been lost in the US and thought it's fairly likely and it's a big shame if that's the case.

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Sophie
User: soph
Date: 2005-12-26 00:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I hadn't realised, no. But I see now from a Google News search that it's a pretty hot topic.

I'm looking forward to the replies I get, in that case. :D

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Sophie
User: soph
Date: 2005-12-26 01:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I made this post public, btw. (see below) Just warning you so you have a chance to do something if you didn't want your comment to be public, although I expect it'd be fine.

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Truck
User: cheesetruck
Date: 2005-12-26 05:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Yeah cuz I lock so many of my posts (:

Thanks for mentioning it, but you were right, there's no problem there.

Also, google for 'Daily show' in relation to this, and look for John Stewart's response to Bill O'Reilly.

Mind you Stewart is Jewish. If you didn't know. This may help to understand some of the skewering. Especially the end statement.

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Morti
User: morti
Date: 2005-12-26 00:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Suits atheists to an extent because they don't have a holiday at all. As I've said before though, I'm happy when anyone celebrates Christmas. After all, this is a wonderful time when Jesus was born and I think anyone should be able to celebrate that regardless of religious affiliation. That's a really weird sentence if read by someone who doesn't "get" Christianity. ;)

Besides that, I know that on my birthday I'd prefer people everywhere to be celebrating rather than some people refusing to join in because of either a label they apply to themselves or deciding that I don't exist or don't matter. If my birthday is celebrated by a lot of people, then others celebrate because they're celebrating, happiness spreads, all is good. Then somewhere down the line someone asks why were celebrating, word spreads.

And that's my attitude to Christmas. It's wrong for people to celebrate it and not recognise Jesus, but I think it's more wrong to make a point of not celebrating or having a good time at all, and the possible effect at the end of it is that people start thinking seriously about Jesus because of Christmas. All good.

In fact, thinking about it, I ought to use this holiday a bit more for evangelising to my family. Haven't done much of that yet, it's difficult because I want to have a nice non-threatening time with them but really that's not as important as their salvation.

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Morti
User: morti
Date: 2005-12-26 00:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Additionally, is there any chance you could take this post off friends-only so I can point readers of my LJ towards it?

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Sophie
User: soph
Date: 2005-12-26 00:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Good idea. Done.

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bd_
User: bdonlan
Date: 2005-12-26 01:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Quite frankly, I don't care which people say to me. I'd be more likely to say "Merry Christmas" to other people, simply because it's the defining holiday of the area in popular consciousness. If someone complains I'd probably point out that, nowadays, it is mostly a commercial holiday, that I'm in fact an atheist, and they're making rather a big deal out of nothing so would they please stop making such a fuss and enjoy the time off from school/work/whatever instead of annoying others with trivial quibbles over wording?

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ria
User: fadetogrey
Date: 2005-12-26 02:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"Holiday" means "holy day."

*shrug*

If someone celebrates Christmas, I'll wish them a merry Christmas. If not, I'll wish them a good day and a happy holiday(s) of their own. I don't see why it's that big a deal at all, what we call it, all these other things.

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Morti
User: morti
Date: 2005-12-26 02:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

And "holy" means "set apart from" in a sense.

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Ellmyruh
User: ellmyruh
Date: 2005-12-26 05:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Those are my thoughts exactly.

To add a bit more: I don't like the fact that everyone is suddenly making it a big deal, because nothing about the holiday has changed. And I think I'm actually going to partially blame the media for this one (which does not happen often, because I see the inside view and think "blame the media" is a lame excuse for people who haven't gotten off their butts and made their own voices heard). I'll even take it a step further and wonder if the issue would have been bigger here last year if Laci Peterson hadn't managed to still be making news.

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Sophie
User: soph
Date: 2005-12-26 17:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Here in the UK, "holiday" is actually taken to mean any period of time where you would get time off from work or similar, so I guess my post should be taken in that context. That's what I meant when I said about the fact that it's a holiday not being the reason people are happy.

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ria
User: fadetogrey
Date: 2005-12-26 20:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Well, Labor Day etc. are also "holidays" here (same definition, but you guys also use "holiday" where we use "vacation," I think?), but not really one involving religion at all.

In the context of the end of the year, though, I've always taken "holidays" to imply religious ones. In which case, while stories themselves differ, the general sentiment of thankfulness, appreciation of our respective deities and their help for us, etc. are the same all-around -- not to mention the non-religious elements like sharing time with family, exchanging gifts, being kind to people around you...

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mollyemo: Keane: one listening
User: mollyemo
Date: 2005-12-26 06:52 (UTC)
Userpic:Keane: one listening
Subject: (no subject)

>But the trouble with a broad statement like the above is that it seems to lose its intent through over-political correctness. It doesn't really mean anything.

Wait, what? I don't understand what you're saying here at all... I don't understand how saying something like that would lower the meaning for *anyone*, much less everyone.

Oh and Season's Greetings, by the way. ;-)

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My name is Greta: Christmas
User: 180milehug
Date: 2005-12-26 07:02 (UTC)
Userpic:Christmas
Subject: (no subject)

word

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mollyemo: Keane: one listening
User: mollyemo
Date: 2005-12-26 08:44 (UTC)
Userpic:Keane: one listening
Subject: (no subject)

Also, that post goes on to say

>Have a safe, warm, and soulful holiday season. Peace. =)

which seems like about the nicest holiday greeting that you could ask for. Wonderfully worded, unlikely to offend much of anybody, and just generally nice. And it certainly seems to "mean" something, doesn't it?

Oh, and for the record, I think *both* sides on this issue are just insane. I mean, on one hand it seems to me that there's nothing wrong with trying to accommodate for people and greeting them with a statement befitting their religion or just being neutral. But on the other hand, I don't see why there's a problem with saying "Merry Christmas" or even the less common "Happy Hanukkah" or whatever. I mean, if somebody said "Happy Hanukkah" to me, I might be slightly confused (since I don't celebrate it *and* it's not the predominant one around here), but I would be glad that they wanted me to enjoy the season. Anyway, I just don't get it. Either side.

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LaZorra: Mischeif Maker
User: cowgirlheather
Date: 2005-12-27 01:15 (UTC)
Userpic:Mischeif Maker
Subject: (no subject)

I think *both* sides on this issue are just insane.

Same here, and yet I think they both make some sort of sense. In the Christian community (the only one of which I can speak with personal experience, though I would assume other religions are similar), there are always present the spiritual equivalents of hypochodriacs. These people perceive attacks against the faith when none exist.* I'm not saying the whole greeting issue is totally bunk; but I think it's more a case of political correctness run wild than any particular animosity against Christianity. If the traditional greeting were "Happy Kwanzaa," and people started using "Happy Holidays" instead, African-Americans (a title also demonstrating rampant PC-ness) would probably be up in arms instead of Christians.

At the same time, I prefer the sound of "Merry Christmas" because it is traditional and it means more to me. "Happy Holidays" always sounds like some corporation's way of endearing itself to a huge audience of people with varied backgrounds--impersonal, in other words. But I can understand why some people might feel more comfortable using it. And like you said, if I did not celebrate Christmas and were wished a happy one, I would still appreciate the sentiment.

* I do not mean to imply that there are no attacks against the faith today. I believe there are some serious ones, but I do not think this argument has a place with them. Just my opinion.

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User: neilturner
Date: 2005-12-26 10:05 (UTC)
Subject: Whatever...

You know, I always thought we used 'happy holidays' instead of 'merry christmas and a happy new year'.

Most Brits tend to use 'Merry Christmas' still, as far as I can tell, even in areas with high non-Christian populations like in Bradford - we still had Christmas Lights this year, for example, as opposed to 'Winter Lights' or whatever.

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the surfacer: Okay!
User: the_surfacer
Date: 2005-12-27 02:59 (UTC)
Userpic:Okay!
Subject: (no subject)

I will never buy the argument that inclusivity is insulting, and anyone who takes a sentiment starting with a wish of happiness as insulting is obviously determined to feel persecuted and miserable.

That said, my way of handling things is to try to use whatever's appropriate to the situation -- for example, when I went Christmas caroling, we used "Merry Christmas" because we were singing solely about Christmas at a Catholic hospital. When I left my in-laws' last night, I said "Merry Christmas" because that's what we were celebrating. When I said goodbye to my friends at our Christmas potluck, I said "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" because it was a Christmas gathering, but I don't know what everyone actually celebrates. I'd say "Happy Chanukah" to my Jewish friends in their LJs, "Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends in theirs, and "Blessed Solstice/Yule" to my pagan friends in theirs. When I'm just saying it to the store clerk or someone I'm otherwise meeting in passing, I stick to "Happy Holidays" because I don't know what they celebrate, but would still like to wish them good cheer, and I'm not about to apologise for that.

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Robert: MiniMe
User: kaz
Date: 2005-12-27 03:18 (UTC)
Userpic:MiniMe
Subject: (no subject)

Personally, I try to emphasize everyone's belief structure and acknowledge them; hence, why I would use such a large grouping of holiday wishes when posting to LJ. It's not doing it out of political correctness. Rather, I am just trying to include groups specifically, taking into account the multitude of different beliefs this holiday has for them.

For me, a singlular [insert religion-of-choice here] wishing would essentially be turning a blind eye towards other religions groups. However, I feel that a simple "Happy Holidays" wishing is, in general, a very vague sentiment and one that I find overused. In fact, I would argue that doing so would treat all of the important and differing religious beliefs under the same umbrella-term -- which would, at the very least, reduce its meaning to all those reading the post.

By listing them out specifically, you at least make explicit that there *are* many different occasions to be celebrated, from people of many different walks of life. And you avoid just grouping them into the generic "holiday". And I think that recognition would hold much more meaning to those of other religious faiths (especially the less dominant ones) than a simple, generic, all-emcompassing "Happy Holidays".

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User: blessed_lex
Date: 2006-01-07 03:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Hey I'm stopping by on random. Is it okay to add you to my friends list. I think that what ever religion you are, you should be able to say what you like if you aren't forcing it on to others. Christians say Merry Christmas, and every other religion has something else to say. It doesn't bother me any. Its different cultures that's all.

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Sophie
User: soph
Date: 2006-06-30 13:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Hey there. Sorry for not getting round to your comment before now, I had completely forgotten about it. :( Sorry.

You're welcome to add me to your friends list, sure. I probably won't add you back immediately, because I prefer to get to know people before I add them to my friends list. We can chat if you want though. :)

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User: blessed_lex
Date: 2006-07-02 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Yeah sure it sounds great

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