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The airing of the grievances

This Magazine Staff

Happy Holidays, bloggers.
It’s less than a week until Christmas and Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah is coming even sooner, which means it’s just about time for me to start proselytizing about how much I despise the term, “Happy Holidays.” I have a couple reasons for this, and none of them stem from how my love for gingerbread, apple cider and reindeer.
First, when people say, “Happy Holidays,” what they’re really saying is, “I am wishing you a Merry Christmas, but cheapening the term so as not to offend you, in case you don’t enjoy Santa and pine trees as much as I do.”
No one ever says, “Happy Hanukk–oops! I mean, Happy Holidays.”
Don’t believe me? Why are red-and-green Fruit Loops called “Holiday Fruit Loops” when they are obviously for Christmas? The same goes for Rice Krispies. Why is it that the CBC’s “Holiday” programming schedule consists of a few hockey games, an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie (one that features a group of Muslims humourously trying to include Christmas festivities in their Eid celebration–on tonight!) and over thirty Christmas movies? Thirty!
Why even bother with the PC terminology when even the CBC hasn’t included any non-Santa programming? And then there’s the fact that the all-encompassing nature of the phrase (that is plastered across every over-crowded mall in the country) implies that all December holidays have sold out to the evils of capitalism and consumerism when, last time I checked, Christmas is the only one to make that deal.
I understand that the nature of the term is meant to keep from isolating and alienating those who do not celebrate Christmas (undoubtedly the majority holiday in Canada), and inclusive language should always be a consideration in the “cultural mosaic” that is supposed to be Canada. However, I’m arguing that if that’s the case for “Happy Holidays,” then the buzzword is not doing its job.

Secondly, and more importantly, I feel that the term promotes a sense of homogeny within our society. Instead of recognizing each other’s differences, we are ignoring them. Instead of celebrating the notion that there are different traditions and religions, we are lumping all winter holidays into one neat, red package and pretending that we are all the same. We are not all the same, and this will never be acknowledged as long as “Happy Holidays” is the greeting of choice.
Why can’t we learn about each other’s differences instead of whitewashing them? Why can’t wishing someone a Merry Whatever be considered an act of sharing, instead of an ignorant slight? In a perfect world, I would love to see this exchange happen:
Tom: Happy Hanukkah, sir!
Harry: Oh, thank you very much, but actually, I celebrate the winter solstice.
Tom: Oh, really? Wonderful! What have you got planned for that?
Harry: Well, we…
[Conversation to follow about the pair’s differing holiday traditions]
However, I recognize that this is not a perfect world, so if you don’t think you can wish people a Happy [Your Holiday Here], I propose we ditch “Happy Holidays” altogether and rest back on the laurels of Canadian politeness: “Hope you have a wonderful evening.”
And finally, so everyone’s on the same page, the dates of all the December holidays this year (my apologies if I have forgotten any):
Eid al-Adha: December 8 – 11
Winter solstice: December 21
Hanukkah: Sunset December 21 – Sunset December 29
Christmas: December 25
Kwanzaa: December 26 – 31
And for the rest of us, Festivus is celebrated on December 23.

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