Ah yes, the holidays are upon us – a time of joy, giving, and social justice warriors ruining everything. The winter season is full of religious holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and probably many more. It is a time of cheer for everyone, religious or irreligious; everybody has a reason to celebrate. It should be a month or two of happy days, warm hot chocolate, and cozy blankets. However, people these days take too much offense at common symbols and sayings.
The argument of what is “offensive” has been raging for, at least, the entirety of my life. As early as elementary school, I have heard conflicting arguments concerning the topic. Year after year, people juggle the questions: Is it a hate crime to wish someone a merry Christmas? Are Christmas trees a symbol of mass discrimination? Is Santa Claus leading a 2018 Crusade?
The answers are clear: absolutely not.
The term “Merry Christmas” is simply used to wish someone extra happiness on a certain day of the year. Is it associated with a holiday? Sure. Does everyone celebrate that holiday in spiritual context? No. Is the phrase pushing Christian beliefs on others? Not at all. In its modern uses, the greeting is practically secular. Although it originated as a Christian saying, it no longer holds the same connotations as before. Nowadays, many agnostics and atheists take part in Christmas along with Christians, so wishing someone a merry Christmas is no longer directly influenced by their religion.
The secularity of Christmas is also a relevant argument for many of its controversial symbols. For example, Christmas trees have become an emblem of the winter months. Although the origination of the Christmas tree is disputed among historians, its modern meaning is generally universal: It represents festivity, gathering, and Christmas cheer. In terms of spirituality, its relevance is practically void; if certain aspects of the symbol stemmed from religion, no one is significantly aware of them. Despite this, there are still people who don’t like the presence of Christmas trees in public areas. Some social justice warriors argue that the abundance of Christmas spirit forces religious ideas on others; this is completely ridiculous. No one looks at a Christmas tree and is instantly converted to Christianity; honestly, no one looks at a Christmas tree and thinks of anything but presents. That’s just the way it works in this generation. By preventing the placement of celebratory objects in public areas, people are limiting the spread of Christmas cheer and are doing absolutely nothing to exterminate discrimination.
“But I don’t celebrate Christmas! You shouldn’t assume everyone does!” Alright, that’s fine. I have no problem with your decision, but you have to be reasonable. My wishes don’t have to apply to you, but you don’t have to take them as an insult. Someone took the time out of their day to wish you happiness, and you are looking at the situation all wrong. Instead of appreciating the kindness behind their gesture, you are interpreting a kind word as a motive for discrimination. It has been argued that everyone should just say, “happy holidays.” That way, no one has any reason to feel insulted. If that’s how you feel and how you want to deal with the entire situation, go for it. Good for you. However, this shouldn’t be forced onto everyone. The problem is, when you limit the extent to which someone is allowed to express their Christmas spirit, you ruin it for those who don’t want to settle on “the holidays.” To them, it’s Christmas, nothing else. Not to mention, using the nonpartisan “holiday” does not solve the issue at hand. What about Jehovah’s Witnesses, who don’t celebrate any holidays, or religions whose holidays appear in different months? They could potentially take offense at that greeting as well. Clearly, there is no way to completely satisfy everyone. That is, unless everyone agrees to stop being so sensitive.
Let’s say everyone agrees not to wish others a merry Christmas. “Holiday” becomes the generally accepted term to fit this time of year. If such a rule applies to Christmas, I think it is only fair we expand that ideology to all festivities. From now on, you cannot wish anyone a happy Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, or Labor Day; what if they aren’t American? In fact, we shouldn’t get those days off from school because kids in other countries still have to go. Valentine’s Day should just be taken off the calendar; since I don’t have a boyfriend, no one else can celebrate theirs. Not to mention the worst of all: New Years. Because I consider time an illusion, please keep your wishes to yourself. These rules seem ridiculous, but the same principles apply when you prevent people from saying, “Merry Christmas.”
Personally, I do celebrate Christmas. However, if someone was to wish me, “Happy Hanukkah!” I would not file a complaint. Their intentions are completely reasonable: They want me to have a pleasant holiday season. Why would I be offended by that? They weren’t trying to aggressively convert me to Judaism, they weren’t trying to ruin my day, and they definitely weren’t trying to prejudice me. If one of my teachers was to put up a menorah in their classroom, I would not ask them to take it down because they deserve to celebrate their holiday just as much as I do. I strongly believe that the right to show your holiday spirit applies to everyone, not just Christmas-celebrators. If you want to put up your menorah or Kwanzaa candles, I think you should. Holidays aren’t meant to be ignored or hidden; they are meant to be openly enjoyed. If someone has a problem with your beliefs and your culture, it’s on them.
This leads to the legality of displaying holiday cheer. The Supreme Court has ruled that secular decorations, such as Christmas trees, are permitted to be displayed in public schools. The First Amendment allows for irreligious decorations as a symbol of holidays, so technically, teachers are allowed to place ornaments in their classrooms without penalty. Believe it or not, this also allows people to say, “Merry Christmas” without facing a potential lawsuit. This is probably unfortunate news for all the social justice warriors out there, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other things to complain about.
The early winter months are a time of celebration, but in 2018, everyone is too prone to being offended. A kind greeting or meaningless symbol can be enough for some to lose their minds, but they shouldn’t be. Why can’t this time of year just be used to make people feel happy? Simply don’t let silly things bother you. Then, you won’t just be making those around you happier, you will also find yourself in a more joyful position.
Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, and happy everything in between. Just have a great season. Even if you’re a social justice warrior.