Preserving the Essence of Christmas: Ditching 'Happy Holidays'
"'Tis the Season," or so they say. As the Christmas season unfolds, so does the annual debate surrounding the greetings we exchange.
"Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" becomes a battleground for expression.
You might view the push for a generic "Happy Holidays" approach as well-intentioned, aiming to be inclusive of diverse beliefs and traditions, or you might view it as a tool of "cancel culture."
Either way, when we place Christmas into a catch-all category, we risk diluting its true meaning and significance.
Furthermore, the excuse of adopting a more general greeting to be sensitive to other beliefs or to include other holidays that occur this time of year is factually incorrect, as we don't do that any other time of year.
Should we lump together other holidays?
After all, there are more federal holidays between Memorial Day and July 4 and more religious holidays in March than in December.
Why do we start saying Happy Holidays after Thanksgiving and stop at Christmas even though Hannukah can and has ended after Christmas?
Or, in order to be inclusive, celebrate Chinese or the Jewish New Years or don’t say "Happy New Year" on Jan. 1.
Let's begin by clarifying that Christmas is not confined to a date on the calendar.
It’s about an incredible act of love to be treasured every day of the year.
It’s about the sacrifice that God made for us, sending His Son to this world as a man to redeem us from our sins.
This truth, encapsulated in the birth of Christ, is the heartbeat of Christmas.
"Merry Christmas" is not just a greeting; it is a declaration of faith, a recognition of the unique and unparalleled significance of Christ's birth. If our heart’s intent is to glorify God, saying "Merry Christmas" is a powerful way to do exactly that.
The phrase "Happy Holidays" may seem innocuous, but to me, it is offensive. Why are we so concerned with offending non-Christians, yet we don’t care about offending Christians?
By saying "Happy Holidays," we inadvertently place the coming of Christ on equal footing with President’s Day or Labor Day, dismissing its unparalleled importance.
It implies that the coming of Christ is no more significant than other religious, historical or cultural celebrations which are named specifically.
Consider the distinctiveness of Independence Day, a celebration of freedom and the birth of a nation. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on gratitude and shared meals with loved ones. Martin Luther King Day commemorates a civil rights icon and the ongoing pursuit of equality. These holidays, each with their distinct narrative, are rightly afforded individual recognition.
For a Christian, the distinct narrative of Christmas is found in Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." We celebrate because the Creator of the universe humbled himself to come down to our neighborhood.
So, despite societal pressures, I encourage all believers to proudly say "Merry Christmas" and, in doing so, uphold the true spirit of the season.
It's a tradition rooted in history, woven into songs, movies and plays since the 1600s. The gift of Christ is the very thing which established our country’s foundation as a God-honoring, Christian nation.
And while there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying the secular traditions of twinkling lights, gift exchanges and the jolly man in the red suit, as Christians, we must be cautious not to let these festivities overshadow the true reason for the season. The birth of Jesus is not just a historical event nor is it just a nice story we tell once a year.
In Luke 2:10-11, the angels proclaimed, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
This unparalleled message of redemption from our sin through Christ, is cause for reverence, honor and celebration — and the confidently spoken greeting, "Merry Christmas!"
Peter Demos is the author of “On the Duty of Christian Civil Disobedience.” A Christian business leader from Tennessee, Demos uses his biblical perspective and insight gained from his own struggles to lead others to truth and authenticity in a broken world. To learn more, visit peterdemos.org.
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