Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays

For a holiday celebrated by billions around the world, Christmas has been one of the more controversial celebrations through the years.

Many secular aspects of the holiday have raised opposition: the tree, the gifts, decorations, carolling and bells. But over the last two decades, religious facets of Christmas have sparked the most notable debates.

In the early- to mid-1900s, the use of the letter X in Xmas was the cause of disputes. In the last 20 years, it’s been the use of the word Christmas itself. Saying “Happy Holidays” is suggested to replace “Merry Christmas”.

People tend to want to hold onto traditions in the name of nostalgia. When Walmart told its employees to say “Happy Holidays” in 2005, it took just the one season for the public outcry to make the retailer change its policy to include the use of Merry Christmas again.

The reason Christmas is now deemed offensive is the root word Christ. While the concept of the divine is ubiquitous in religions across the globe, it’s the mention of Jesus that limits the holiday to Christianity.

It’s interesting to note the word holiday is an English compound word for holy and day that surfaced in the 1500s. So it turns out non-religious people might still have reason to criticize since religion is at the root of even this seemingly inoffensive word.

Mexico’s Las Posadas, and other religious holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid al-Adha, Yule and Kwanzaa all occur in the month of December. Not to mention New Year’s, which is considered a holiday.

Why should a person’s choice of words matter when ultimately all they’re doing is wishing others well?

On behalf of all of us here at The Observer, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!