With the holidays just around the corner, there comes a certain level of giddiness and joy. It could be a break from school, the chance to see family and friends, and/or the chance to celebrate a unique holiday for your religion. However, sometimes the holidays bring about an annual argument—the War on Christmas. I loosely define this movement as certain Christians believing that the non-Christians of America are trying to somehow discriminate against their religion.
Let me preface this article with the notion that I am a Christian, and that I deeply love what I believe in. The “War on Christmas” is embarrassing. I recognize and enjoy that we live in such a diverse country and while Christmas is my favorite holiday, it is not the only religious holiday there is to celebrate in December. There are holidays for Islam, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrian, Wicca and Paganism, Orthodox Christianity, and Kwanzaa belonging to those of African-American and pan-African descent. This country is not just a Christian country; within our own constitution is the right to freely practice your religion. Thus, being sensitive to diversity of faith is not a bad thing. It is a law to allow all to practice freely, to say that this month is only for Christians is to say that those other religions and faiths do not matter, and that is discriminatory.
Christians are taught to live our lives by what the Bible says, as well as how Jesus lived his life. Never once did I read that Jesus complained that people were not making everything about him and that he was discriminated against. I believe that getting angry and getting in peoples’ faces about being told ‘happy holidays’ is such a selfish action and one that overshadows the opportunity to show Christ’s love. Saying ‘happy holidays’ is inclusive to all of those who practice differently and is already starting off a small interaction with one of respect and true well-wishes of joy this coming season. There are so many deep and complex issues our country is facing right now that deserve passion and attention that the issue of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ is such a trivial and selfish one. You can definitely say either (as per your constitutional right), but do not get angry if something different is said to you.
Christianity is a huge religion in this country and we have a lot of privilege; showing love and starting relationships with people looks like respecting them, respecting their faith, and worrying about other people rather than defending a holiday that has become so consumer-focused and commercialized as a day to spend a ton of money. There needs to be a separation of an American Christmas and a Christian Christmas. The Christian Christmas upholds the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the impact it held on humanity biblically. The American Christmas holds a ‘shop till you drop’ mentality kicking it all off with Black Friday where people overwhelm stores in a mad dash for the ‘best’ deal for the ‘best’ stuff. So if there is something to be angry at, it is the notion that a scared religious holiday is being used for material wealth gain which is idolatrous and against what Christians have learned.
My point to bringing up this issue is that there are so many reasons to celebrate family, love, and kinship this season. There are opportunities to make someone smile and give back. Please do not focus your energy on getting mad at someone because they did not know your religion so they were being inclusive and just wishing you well. There is so much more constructive conversation that can happen over talking about a miniscule phrase about a faith that simply does not receive discrimination within American borders. So next time you someone says ‘happy holidays’ or ‘merry Christmas’ to you, just smile and respond kindly. To all friends and family of diverse religions or lack thereof: happy holidays. I hope you all enjoy the break.