In the past few years, an artificial “War on Christmas” has been manufactured by many in the right and far-right media, claiming everything from religious persecution to some sort of Deep State cabal, never mind that Christmas is a nationally observed holiday. Uproars over coffee cups and President and Mrs. Obama using the greeting, “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” on their official White House holiday cards have happened across social media, blogs, and other forms of media.
So, why do so many people say “Happy Holidays” in lieu of wishing people a “Merry Christmas”? Well, firstly, I don’t think anyone has ever been offended by having someone toss a Christmas greeting or two their way, regardless of whether they actually participate in celebrating the holiday. But let’s take a look at some of the more religiously-oriented holiday celebrations that take place around the same time in December, so we have an understanding of what’s included when we give a general and inclusive holiday greeting.
Note: dates reflected are representative of 2018 only.
- November 20 – 21: Mawlid al-Nabi (Islam)
- This holiday celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. Depending on the country and each individual, celebrations can include lights and decorations, marches, special meals, devotional poetry readings, and even “birthday parties” for orphan children.
- November 28: Advent fast begins (Orthodox Christianity)
- A season of penitence, Advent has been observed for thousands of years, and involves a fast (in some traditions, up to 40 days), dancing, and other festivities.
- December 2 – 10: Hanukkah/Chanukah (Judaism)
- Hanukkah commemorates the second century B.C. rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Also known as the Festival of Lights, celebratory activities include lighting the Menorah, food, and gift exchanges.
- December 8: Immaculate Conception (Catholicism)
- One of the most important observations in the Catholic Church, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the birth of Jesus, from the Virgin Mary, and is usually celebrated with everything from feasts to parades to fireworks.
- December 12: Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Catholicism)
- Primarily observed by Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Catholics of Latin American descent, this day honors a statue in Mexico City, of the Virgin Mary.
- December 21: Solstice (Pagan/Wicca)
- The winter solstice is a celebration of the start of the solar year, celebrating light and the rebirth of the sun. Many of the ways we celebrate Christmas come from solstice celebrations, so you’ll often see red and green decorations, trees, stars, etc. There are feasts, gift-giving, and more, with celebrations of the Mother Goddess and Santa Claus.
- December 25: Christmas (Christian)
- While observed by many, even areligious and other non-Christians, Christmas is a holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrated by decorating with lights, trees, etc., gift-giving, family get-togethers, feasts, and more, Christmas is one of the primary holidays in the Christian faith.
- January 24: Rohatsu/Bodhi Day (Buddhism)
- Commemorating the day when the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, experienced enlightenment, there are many different cultures who celebrate differently, including things such as reading/study of the Dharma, chanting Buddhist texts, and practicing acts of kindness toward others.
While by no means is this an entirely inclusive or exhaustive list of all holidays celebrated during our traditional holiday season, it is meant to show that multiple different religions and cultures are observing different holy days. By saying “Happy Holidays”, Christmas is absolutely included, but it’s taking care not to exclude or omit anyone else’s observant practices.
Continue wishing people a merry Christmas, absolutely! No one is ever really offended by such; in fact, people are usually happy to be thought of enough to receive a positive greeting and well wishes. However, certainly, don’t be offended if someone honors Christmas, and all other faiths-based holidays, by wishing you happy holidays. It only means they aren’t being presumptuous about what faith, if any, you align yourself with, but still cared enough to offer positivity and holiday cheer.
That being said, happy holidays from The Loud Girls!