“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” ~ Maya Angelou
“Remember that you are capable of giving this time of year new meaning and new memories.” ~ Kovie Biakolo
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”— Author Unknown
For years we have heard from some quarters that there is a “war on Christmas”, apparently because out of consideration for those who celebrate other religious or cultural holidays, we as a society started saying “Happy Holidays” instead of assuming everyone celebrates Christmas. Some people have taken umbrage at this gesture of inclusion.
Yet, for centuries the celebration of Christmas has overshadowed every other celebration that has occurred during the month of December, as well as the practice of those who do not observe any religious or cultural holiday.
And in our modern times, to add insult to injury, retailers and advertisers have extended the Christmas celebration into other months. When I was growing up a gazillion years ago we started celebrating Christmas in mid-December. Over the decades, though, so-called Christmas creep began seeping into stores before Thanksgiving — and even on Thanksgiving — then before Halloween and even during the summer! And while I love nearly every aspect of Christmas, I do not appreciate this nearly year-around inundation. I am dismayed that this lovely holiday is being diluted and cheapened by such sweep and creep.
The Hallmark and Lifetime TV channels in particular have gone overboard with the Christmas tsunami, and again adding insult to injury the movies feature nearly all white actors — giving a chilling new meaning to the phrase “white Christmas.” There are millions of people of color who celebrate Christmas who might appreciate seeing actors who look like themselves in these cozy — and often cheesy — Christmas movies.
America has long been billed as the world’s “Melting Pot,” due to the influx and influence of the immigrants from many countries that built our nation. But due to business globalization and an increase in immigration over the past few decades, U.S. diversity has grown dramatically and made a powerful impact on our culture. America’s white Christian dominance has had to make room for other religious and cultural observances. Detractors of sharing time and space with others deride as “politically correct” this showing of respect for and consideration of those who celebrate something other than Christmas.”
Although I am absolutely goofy over Christmas, I do recognize that there are other celebrations in December, and respect that. For example, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is also celebrated in December. And because I grew up in a Christian household and my husband grew up in a Jewish household, we have long observed the cultural joys of both holidays.
In addition to Christmas, December generally ushers in several celebrations, which are listed below with their 2019 dates and appropriate greeting for each one.
Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights: December 22 – 30 – “Happy Hanukkah (alternate spelling is Chanukah)”
Kwanzaa: December 26 – January 1 – “Happy Kwanzaa” (It should be noted that specific greetings in Swahili can also be used, and that it is not uncommon to celebrate Kwanzaa along with Christmas, Hanukkah or another holiday.)
I believe that it behooves us to educate ourselves on the holiday celebrations of others in our lives — neighbors, acquaintances, coworkers, colleagues, fellow volunteers, business associates, spouses, romantic partners, and so on. As well, there are those who do not celebrate any holidays, and their choices also should be respected.
Learning about other religions and cultural observances and practices can point out in powerful ways how we are united instead of divided. I thought that this was beautifully demonstrated in Israel four years ago when a cultural center organized a festival to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Ramadan.
Practicing inclusion rather than exclusion does not constitute a war on Christmas. It is just plain considerate and decent behavior. Therefore, if we know for sure which holiday someone is celebrating, then “Merry Christmas,” for example, is appropriate. Otherwise, use the non-presumptuous greeting, “Happy Holidays.”
And, by the way, it is also perfectly acceptable to greet those who celebrate Christmas with a cheerful, “Happy Holidays!” If it’s good enough for the man that many considered to be Mr. Christmas himself, Bing Crosby, (from the classic 1942 Christmas movie, Holiday Inn) it should be good enough for everyone who celebrates Christmas!
So to my dear readers everywhere, Happy Holidays (or not, as the case may be) and my best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year that is full of diversity, inclusion and understanding.
Until next time,
P.S. Following are my previous posts on this subject: