Expression of peace, hope

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2005

R-C News-Herald Editorial

A lively, often heated debate has emerged this December over the greetings Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

One group of people believe saying “Merry Christmas” is insensitive and wrong. This group argues many people are not Christians and by saying “Merry Christmas” you are assuming someone is a Christian and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

This group quickly points to other holidays like Hanukah, Kwanzaa and New Years Eve/Day, which occur during the same period of time as the Christmas holiday. They believe each of these holidays deserves equal billing and the phrase “Merry Christmas” is a slap in the face to those who celebrate these other holidays.

The other group argues saying “Happy Holidays” is nothing more than political correctness run amuck. This group fears the original reason for the celebration of Christmas, the birth of Christ, is being lost. They fear the religious significance of Christmas is being watered down by rampant consumerism and an influx of other religions and cultures into the United States of America. Much of their concern stems from the idea of a small group of non-Christians dictating to the majority what is acceptable and what is not.

Both groups should recognize Christmas has become much more than just a religious celebration. Christmas is a part of the culture, not just in nations that are populated by a majority of Christians, but throughout the world. It is celebration of hope and peace. Christmas is time of excitement for children. Maybe it has become too commercial, but only the crankiest Scrooge couldn’t be moved by the look on the faces of young children when they spot Santa Claus and rush over to hug him.

It is important to recognize everyone does not celebrate Christmas. No one, especially in a nation that prides itself on religious tolerance, should be forced to celebrate a holiday they do not believe in.

However, for those who argue wishing someone “Merry Christmas” is inappropriate and offensive, they are failing to recognize one key element.

Christmas is much more than just another holiday. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a religion and a faith followed by the majority of Americans and over a billion people worldwide.

Whether or not you are a Christian, Christmas provides an opportunity for all people to reflect on the teachings of a man who preached about loving your neighbor as well as your enemy and a time to celebrate a faith based on kindness and love.

The words “Merry Christmas” are not words of division, but an expression of a genuine hope that we all find happiness in the coming days.