(Courtesy of the Hallmark Archives, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, USA ). Thank you for the great news coverage and the great videos and fun articles. By looking at historic literary works, you will see how far back this greeting can be traced. Both are derived from Old English: Christmas comes from “Cristes Maesse,” or the Mass of Christ, the first usage of which (in 1038) described the mass held to commemorate Christ’s birth. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which, in Western Christian Churches, is held annually on 25 December.For centuries, it has been the subject of several reformations, both religious and secular. The commercialized aspects of Christmas have no historical basis in Christianity, but we enjoy it anyway. On greeting cards, Starbucks coffee cups and in everyday conversation, history shows people have chosen from a diverse selection of ways to express goodwill around the holiday season. In dealing with Christmas, MOST Christians understand that Jesus was NOT born on December 25 th, and that December 25 th was chosen by (what is now referred to as ) the Catholic Church partly to line up with the festivities in Rome to bring more people into the knowledge of Christ.. Christmas was first celebrated by Roman Emperor Constantine in 336 A.D. and later Pope Julius made … What is wrong with enjoying a festival that happens to originate in a religion other than your own? "The phrase "Happy holidays" ignores non-believers, Muslims, Buddists, and a handful of other religions I mentioned and cited in R1." The identities our society projects on us are in conflict with the identities we feel inside. A book called “Every Person’s Guide to Judaism” poses a question to the Jews who celebrate Christmas: “Do non-Christians have the right to trivialize one of the most sacred and most important days of the Christian year?”. It was in the early 90′s that I started feeling the pressure to stop saying “Merry Christmas” around the holiday season. In general, “Happy Holidays” is accepted as the broadest and most inclusive greeting at this time of year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays used to be easily interchangeable. So, “Merry Christmas” it up all you like. Merry Christmas and a happy new year " (thus incorporating two greetings) was in an informal letter written by an English admiral in 1699. What started as a dispute forged by religious preference became … Historically, “Merry Christmas” appeared in English literature in the 16th century and has been popularized in various books since then. Growing up in Japan, my family casually celebrated Christmas. Hallmark, founded by J.C. Hall in 1910, started producing its own greeting cards in 1915. If a Jewish person said "Happy Haunnikah" (did i spell that right?) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays From BRB . By saying “Happy Hanukkah” to him, we would be insinuating that he is doing something wrong. If you were confident of your own religious beliefs and identity, appreciating the customs of other religions should not be harmful. And, as offensive as it may sound to some Jewish people, I hold Hanukkah responsible for tainting Christmas. Saying “Happy Hanukkah” to someone just because he is Jewish, could also be offensive. — … Here the desire to discourage Jewish people from enjoying Christmas is disguised as their respect for Christians. Besides, if “trivializing” of other people’s religions is unethical, how about trivializing of their own religion? Just because he is Jewish, does not mean that he should or he has to celebrate Hanukkah. White House Christmas card from George H. W. Bush, 1989. Controversy over phrasing rarely figured in to historical presidential holiday greetings. Christmas cards on sale at a Target store for the 2017 holiday season. For me, being able to say, “Merry Christmas!” to anyone was a … If Hanukkah truly was a major holiday, it would be understandable, but it isn’t. That is, they would encourage Jewish people to “trivialize” Christmas. Christmas is not a major holiday in Japan, but the commercial aspects of it are enthusiastically embraced by many. Providing you do it in December. Because of this, it has been abandoned by a lot of official … The word for … Everyone seemed to understand that the spirit of the wish was more important than the exact words said. There I experienced the true American Christmas, with a big tree full of decorations, an abundance of gifts, a big family feast, singing and listening to Christmas songs, and reading and watching Christmas stories. “Christmas for Jews—How Hanukkah became a major holiday” by David Greenberg explains the history and the politics of Hanukkah. If anything, it’s a generic, catch-all greeting employed by companies looking to increase their customer demographic. Share this … But in 2005, just as the idea of a “War on Christmas” was gaining momentum in conservative circles, critics spoke out against President George W. Bush’s omission of the word “Christmas” from his White House holiday card. I mean seriously. Doctor is bombarded with abuse for 'excluding Muslims' by wishing his followers Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Happy holidays includes more religions than Merry Christmas, which is why it is better. You may be surprised to find that while many people think of “Merry Christmas” as the more modern of the two phrases. Every Christmas I'm faced with the dilemma of whether to write, "Merry Christmas," when creating cards to my clients, or, "Happy Holidays," instead. It was replaced by a more generic, politically-correct version, “Happy holidays.”. As someone who is religiously neutral, I would like to suggest that we all let others fully enjoy their religious holidays without tainting them. To trivialize something that you are invited to trivialize, or to trivialize your own religion that you are not supposed to trivialize? Like many issues these days, the great holiday greeting debate tends to separate along political lines as much as religious ones. I don’t believe it is true, can you Merry Christmas - and any holiday, for that matter - to the lovely staff and users of NintendoLife! In effect, they used the holiday season as a platform for asserting their religious identity. ©2004 DYSKE I am not Jewish or Christian. According to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2016, 66 percent of Democrats said that stores and businesses should greet customers with “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings” or some other general greeting, rather than “Merry Christmas,” as a show of respect for different religious faiths; only 28 percent of Republicans felt the same. MERRY CHRISTMAS!” … for which I was summarily. Since most Japanese are not religious, they readily import anything festive regardless of their religious origins. A day to celebrate! https://www.history.com/news/the-war-of-words-behind-happy-holidays The great holiday greeting debate doesn’t seem to be reflected in the history of greeting cards themselves, which have a long tradition of varied offerings for the holiday season. In the book Season’s Greetings From the White House, first published in 1996 and updated in 2007, author Mary Evans Seeley offers details of presidential Christmas cards, messages and gifts through the years. What if he wants to celebrate Christmas? December 25, 2020. by Celeste Fremon. Bill O’ Reilly said that Christmas is “under siege.” He was mad that Macy’s was using “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” President-elect Donald Trump joined the “War on Christmas” bandwagon this year. Now, I have to keep my Christmas spirit in check to avoid offending Jewish people. Then again in 1565 in a document called the Hereford Municipal Manuscript. But "Merry Christmas" has been used since at least 1534—a dated letter from bishop John Fisher to Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell reveals as much. January 4, 2004    Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. By Jeremy_Brener @JeremyBrener Dec 25, 2020, 6:00am CST / new. “Happy Holidays” was increasingly (rather exponentially) pushed on people during the 70s, 80s, and hugely in the 90s as part of the whole PC movement which was just fronting for the Neomarxist assault on Western Civilization, and especially Christianity. A Merry Christmas … HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. 1925 Hallmark Christmas card. After all, our government officially designated Christmas as a national holiday. As for “holiday,” the word emerged in the 1500s as a replacement of the earlier medieval word “haliday,” which itself had supplanted the Old English “haligdæg,” meaning holy day. If Christians are happy with Christmas being a national holiday, non-Christians have the right to do whatever we want to do with Christmas. The greeting “Merry Christmas” has a pretty long history. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and May Joy Visit You Often In the Coming Days. Occasionally I email you when I post a new article or if I have a question for my readers. Should I feel guilty on St. Patrick’s Day, if I claimed that I am Irish for the day? It was in the early 90′s that I started feeling the pressure to stop saying “Merry Christmas” around the holiday season. We must feel secure and confident in our own values before we can embrace the values of others. However, we did find a prominent non-political figure spreading “Happy Holiday” cheer in 2010. The “Happy Holidays” tyrants want to get rid of Christmas … A 1937 ad proclaimed: “A gift of Camels says, ‘Happy Holidays and Happy Smoking!’” Other ads from the 1930s and early 1940s stuck to “Season’s Greetings,” but all featured jolly, grinning Santa Clauses, reindeer, Christmas trees and other recognizable Christmas symbols. (In fact, each year, Queen Elizabeth continues to wish her citizens a "Happy Christmas," rather than a merry one.) But Christmas turned from a religious occasion to a largely secular one for many people, the phrase “Happy Holidays” also expanded its usage, becoming a more universal greeting used to include people of various religions, and even a nod to the New Year. And before the 18th century, you could hear both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Christmas.” The most likely reason for this is the fact that, well, “merry” was … I hope my readers would understand that criticizing an aspect of Jewish culture does not constitute anti-Semitism. Imagine if we were no longer allowed to say “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” and instead had to say something like, “Happy drinking day.” Imagine if all holidays were used as platforms for asserting our religious identities, each religion digging out some minor historical event as an excuse to compete with the major one. According to it, around 1900, the first generation of Eastern European Jews embraced Christmas and “installed Christmas trees in their homes and thought nothing of the carols their children sang in the public schools.” I’ve observed that second-generation immigrants are more prone to having identity crises because the American culture insists on maintaining our immigrant heritage. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.” Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. © 2021 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The use of “Happy Holidays” spread in the late 20th century as a way for retailers to greet customers without fear of offending those who might not celebrate Christmas. Example: [Collected via e-mail and Twitter, November 2015] Saw on Facebook a post claiming that the President has banned Christmas trees at veteran centers. Hanukkah today is clearly a trivialized version of the original. Otherwise, what else would Christians expect non-Christians to do on “Christmas Day”? Bush. So while the debate over appropriate holiday greetings shows no signs of being resolved any time soon, there’s one thing we can all keep in mind. Over the years, Hallmark has expanded its options to reflect consumer trends and incorporate more religious and cultural backgrounds; Hanukkah cards were added in the 1950s, and Kwanzaa greetings were introduced in the 1990s. So no, “Happy Holidays” isn’t some PC alternative to “Merry Christmas”. Continue Reading. While on the campaign trail in 2015, he even vowed to "make Christmas great again" by requiring people to greet others with "merry Christmas," not "happy holidays." Which makes more sense? If Jewish people want to trivialize Purim by turning it into a Halloween-like costume party, I would gladly join the fun. Therefore, then or now, to wish someone “Happy Holidays” is to wish them happiness from the first night of Advent through the Feast of the Epiphany, including Christmas. I am not an atheist either since questions about God’s existence does not interest me. (Credit: White House/White House/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images). I remember receiving a few Christmas gifts. If by “trivialize” the authors mean enjoying the common customs associated with Christmas—installing a tree, exchanging gifts, singing carols, reading stories—the answer by the vast majority of Christians would be yes. It is unfair to assume this. Setting aside politics, what’s the history behind the different greetings? “The company’s first line of Christmas cards prominently featured the sentiments ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Christmas Greetings’ and ‘Season’s Greetings’ on the front of each design,” says Samantha Bradbeer, archivist and historian for Hallmark Cards, Inc. Other sentiments, such as “Joyful Greetings” and “Yuletide Greetings” also appeared on early 20th century cards, Bradbeer explains, but they weren’t as frequently used as the Christmas greetings. But you know, this year the emphasis almost has to be on the "Happy New Year" part of the traditional year-end greeting. The term appears in 1534 in a Christmas letter between the Catholic Bishop John Fisher and Thomas Cromwell. His campaign is selling a Christmas ornament for a whopping $149. Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season! Happy Holidays" debate has been a hot topic for a while now. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. As Andrew McGill wrote in The Atlantic in 2016, Christians have exchanged the greeting “Happy Holidays” among themselves for decades, most with the understanding that the “holidays” meant the season of Advent, the four-Sunday cycle on that includes Christmas and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany. Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas: The Last Thing That Ever Needs To Be Said About It 12/04/2013 04:00 pm ET Updated Feb 03, 2014 Every year at the beginning of December some Americans engage in a ridiculous rhetorical ritual that recycles righteous arguments about whether people should say to one another Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. I find both Judaism and Christianity intriguing, but when it comes to the holiday season, I prefer Christmas over Hanukkah. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from? From this perspective, it makes sense that the second-generation Jews began questioning the idea of celebrating Christmas. Jewish people simply used the otherwise minor festival as an excuse to compete with Christmas. Back in the 1950s, her research shows, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s holiday cards read “Season’s Greetings.” Later presidents, from John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, also tried not to alienate non-Christians in their holiday missives. If enjoying Christmas would weaken your faith in Judaism, you have only yourself to blame. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images). When I was sixteen, I moved to the States to live with an American family in California. Why do they have to invent their own holiday to compete with Christmas? Christmas has been celebrated since the 4th century AD, the first known usage of any Christmas greeting dates was in 1534. " By the middle of the 20th century, the phrase was well established in popular usage, as shown in a study of ads run by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in Carolina Magazine from 1935 to 1942 to encourage giving the gift of tobacco. At that time, Seeley told the Washington Post that the last time a presidential holiday card had mentioned Christmas was 1992, during the administration of Bush’s father, George H.W. ... Willie Nelson, wrote in 1963, and which Roy Orbison first made famous in the years before Willie became Willie, and he still sold his songs to anyone who’d buy ’em. In recent years, the debate over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” has become as reliable a post-Thanksgiving tradition as the Black Friday shopping craze. I was impressed, or shocked, by how spectacular it was. Until I moved to New York where I made many Jewish friends, I had never heard of Hanukkah. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas; happy holidays to everyone else. Why should they have to feel guilty for celebrating Christmas? It's not going to be an especially heavy lift for 2021 to be a better year than was 2020. A Tradition That's Become Politically Incorrect. When asked about how stores should greet their customers over the holidays, 42% of Americans prefer “Merry Christmas,” 12% prefer “Happy Holidays” and 46% say it doesn't matter. Now, however, these phrases have become casualties in the battle of political correctness. Merry Christmas is felt to leave out too many people. Recently, an investigation into the history of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a seasonal greeting in the United States by self-described history nerd Jeremy Aldrich turned up its usage as early as 1863, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. In modern day England, however, it is popular to say “Happy Christmas.” If they do not want their holidays to be “trivialized” by non-believers, then let’s respect that wish too. Let everyone know about the miracle that happened today all those years ago and why you are so excited to celebrate it. Very few care. How did a simple salutation get so controversial? Before this, the term “Happy Christmas” was more common. If Jewish people are envious of the dazzling nature of Christmas, why don’t they just celebrate Christmas? If you know someone celebrates Christmas you can go with “Merry Christmas,” but ‘tis the season for interacting with strangers (selling to them, buying from them, bumping into them on your way out of Target). But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Since second-generation Americans only have secondhand knowledge of it, they naturally feel insecure about it. Whenever I say "Merry Christmas" to somebody, I'm basically saying "I hope you have a merry day on December 25th". Imagine Chinese-Americans digging out a historical event around St. Patrick’s Day just so that they can compete with the Irish on the street. If trivializing of Christmas is unethical, trivializing of Hanukkah by Jewish people should be immoral by their own standard. Most notable is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol published in 1843. 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