Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #47 Holiday Greetings du Jour

To say Merry Christmas … or Not.

Here’s a blog post I wrote on December 24th, 2011 addressing this topic. I think it’s worth another read. I hope it will shed light on why folks may prefer to say Happy Holidays during this multi-holiday season. It is not to disparage Christmas. This is NOT a war on Christmas. It’ s just a matter of awareness, sensibility, and respect of others’ cultures.


Holiday Greetings du Jour!

‘Tis the season to be merry and happy and gleeful, but lately I’ve noticed a lot of grumbling about how we should greet each other during this season of happiness.

I hear folks complaining that they are tired of hearing the saying “Happy Holidays.” They ask, “What’s the matter with saying Merry Christmas?” After all isn’t that what December is all about? Yesterday while walking through my predominantly Christian town, with a friend, I saw a sign. It read: “Christmas is the Reason for the Season.” I pointed at the sign and asked, “Do you agree?” Of course I knew her answer. She said, “No.” She’s Jewish. Christmas is not the reason for the season for her – or anyone who is not Christian.

It is all about Christmas for some folks. Let me repeat, “For some folks – but NOT all!”

As a young girl, I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania singing carols around the Christmas tree and waiting, not so patiently, for Santa to come on the early morn of December 25th.  I never heard anything other than, “Merry Christmas.” Probably because the only people I knew were christian – Catholic to be more precise. I lived an insular life.

Of course, my entire family, both immediate and extended, was Catholic and we looked forward each year to celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ. It was a time for us to get together and share good feelings … and give and receive gifts. Since I went to a parochial school, all of my friends were Catholic. As a young child, I truly did not know anyone of another faith – well maybe a few Methodists or Presbyterians, but they celebrate Christmas too. So saying “Merry Christmas was normal. It was the accepted greeting. It was the only greeting. Like I said, I lived a very insular life.

But then I moved from Erie to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; to Rochester, New York; to San Diego, California; and then to New Jersey. As I moved, my world widened. It grew! My perspective grew. My tolerance, for people different from me with different views of the world, blossomed. I met so many people representing varied parts of the world. I flourished with this newness.

In my neighborhood, where I live now, I live with Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, Filipinos, and Latinos. My Jewish friends celebrate Chanukah. My African American friends celebrate Kwanzaa. (many of them also celebrate Christmas) I have many neighbors whose roots are in the Middle East … in countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Our very dear friends are from Dehli, India. They gently celebrate Christmas, but Diwali is their cherished holiday. It is a festival of lights, which celebrates good over evil. Yes, I live in a very diverse neighborhood in my little suburb of New York City … called New Jersey.

When I taught school I loved to boast that my classes of six- to nine-year-olds were made up of the league of nations. Ireland, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Georgia (near Russia), Iran, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Philippines, Japan, China, and Germany were some of the countries my students or their families hailed from. Many of them celebrate Christmas, but many do not.

During this holiday season of  merriment, happiness, and gaiety, in this greater New York area, most folks offer a cheery smile and because we really do not know which is your holiday “du jour,” we wholeheartedly wish you a very, happy holiday! (of your choice)

But if we knew … we would surely say: Happy Chanukah! or Happy Kwanzaa! or Happy Diwali! or … even Merry Christmas.

I wish you all a very, happy, healthy, and safe holiday … and a prosperous and Happy New Year.

At least we can all agree that January 1st will bring a new year … or … maybe not.

Here are examples of New Years celebrated around the world.
The Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah, is celebrated in autumn. The Chinese New Year falls between the end of January and the end of February each year. Songkran is the Thai New Year, which is celebrated between April 13th and 15th. Ethiopians celebrate their New Year on September 11th. No matter when you celebrate – make it a good one – a happy one, – a tolerant one.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


December 16, 2012 - Posted by | Musings by Donna | , , , , , , , ,

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