Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, lasting eight days and nights, accented by the lighting of the candles on the menorah, has deep religious meaning for the Jewish people, for it marks the end of a battle to regain their Temple and their right to worship as Jews.
It is not certain why Dec. 25 was chosen as the date on which we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Christ. Maybe it had some connection with the date on which the early Christians believed the Virgin conception occurred. Or it could be tied to one or more of the Roman solar festivals, with which it coincides. But, we do know that it was celebrated as such, as far back as 354 A.D.
Since scholars cannot actually agree on the year of Christ’s birth, much less the date, it is not important on what date we celebrate it. The important thing is that Christendom, worldwide, does celebrate it.
For the past several years, primarily on Internet social networks such as Facebook, there has been a rash of people verbalizing strong objections to the use of any greeting other than “Merry Christmas.” That trend continues this season. There appears to be a widespread belief that the use of “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” is direct proof of a vast conspiracy to take “Christ” out of Christmas.
I don’t think anyone could venture an intelligent guess as to which people might foster such a conspiracy. We can safely rule out the Jewish people, for they respect our holidays as we respect theirs. There is no motivation for them to foster such a conspiracy. While some Muslims might have the motivation, they lack the number and the influence to pull it off. Other religions, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. are content with our customs, having witnessed what religious persecution has caused in other parts of the world. Retail merchants certainly are not motivated to “kill the goose that continues to lay the golden egg.”
The only group that actively works to rid our language of such words as God, Christ, Jehovah and Jesus, are the atheists. Even though they make a lot of noise, with help from the ACLU, they are not powerful enough to start and maintain such a vast conspiracy.
Left without motive, or conspirators, the obvious thing, to me, is that the conspiracy exists only in the minds of people. Looking at it realistically, we are in a season which encompasses three holidays, one Jewish, one Christian and one secular. I feel that “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” are both appropriate and inclusive greetings.
I do not, in any way, condemn or belittle the use of “Merry Christmas.” It is, in fact, my favorite greeting, symbolizing everything that Christmas means to me, and peace on earth, good will to men. However, the use of either of the other two is not offensive to me. Each contains greetings for, not only Christmas, but for the other two celebrations as well.
There is another movement which is, to me, disturbing. Christians are urging other Christians to boycott stores that do not use the “Merry Christmas” greeting. Obviously, not enough people will participate to make it effective. But most importantly, the motivation behind the movement makes a mockery of the teachings and the message of the very Jesus Christ it is intended to protect. How can you reconcile an overt act of “punishment,” with Christ’s message of love, and forgiveness, or peace of earth and good will to men? Christ did not command that his message be spread by force and intimidation.
It is time to shed the notion that the verbiage is supreme to the message. If you want to keep “Christ” in Christmas, then emulate Him and quit looking for insignificant things about which to become offended. Concentrate on the message of the season, not how it is articulated.
In truth, whether you say “Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Joyeux Noel,” “Happy Holidays,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” “Have a cool Yule” or any one of a hundred other ways to express it, the wish and the message remain the same.
It is a wish for peace, happiness, good health, good will and a good life for you and yours. How can you be offended by that?
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.