Opinion: Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

Mark Turner

Some may wonder why the faithful tend to get a little bent out of shape over the phrase Happy Holidays. It’s not that the phrase itself is offensive, after all, it has its root meaning from “holy day.” It may have more to do with the fact the phrase, Happy Holidays, is used because it’s “less” offensive to others who don’t believe in the Christ child’s mission on earth.

Many make a strong case for the fact the United States was founded on the principles of the One whose birthday we celebrate each December 25th. The Founding Fathers also held a strong conviction of this belief.

John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States and son of John Adams, said to an audience at a large patriotic celebration in Newburyport, MA on July 4 1837, “Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [on the Fourth of July?]” He went on to answer the question himself, “Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of a nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”

The word “Christmas” is being removed from of our public vernacular much like respect for American symbolism is being removed from college campuses, sporting events and politics. This is no doubt going to stir up the ire of the more than 70% of Americans who claim to be followers of the new born King.

Even still, is it more important to win the battle of a greeting which occurs mostly between Black Friday and Christmas Eve while wrestling others for the last remaining gift at the store, or is it more important to help others understand the true meaning of Christmas? That meaning won’t be discovered by arguing which phrase is best to use, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”

As another prominent Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson said, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”

As many a greeting card states, “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!”
Mark Turner is the president of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.

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