A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.





Sunday, December 13, 2015

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?


Well I find myself posting another item I received in a e-mail.  I always enjoy learning historical facts which this has, but then there is that other issue.  Oh how simple it all was when I was a young boy.

Apparently, the PC police would have you believe that saying "Happy Holidays" is the only appropriate greeting for this time of year. Everything else is "banned".

Let's take a little look at the history of Christmas in America, dating back before the Revolution. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed by the Puritans in Boston.

"For preventing disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonor of God and offense of others: it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county."
From the records of the General Court,
Massachusetts Bay Colony
May 11, 1659

But why? The Puritans who came to Massachusetts to build life anew had several reasons for disliking Christmas. It was a staunch reminder of the Church of England and the old-world customs that they were trying to escape. In fact there was pressure from the British to conform to English customs.

Additionally they frowned on many of the Christmas traditions of drunkenness, feasting, games, and wassailing - an act that sometimes turned violent. Wassailing was a custom of people who held a lower economic status, visiting wealthier community members and begging - or demanding - food and drinks in return for toasts to their hosts' health. If the host refused there was usually a threat of retribution.

Interestingly enough, that tradition evolved to one we still practice today: Christmas caroling!

Fast forward to June 26, 1870 where Christmas was declared a national holiday. During the 19th century, Americans reinvented Christmas, transforming it from a wild carnival to a family-oriented day of peace and tradition.

Today, we see different kinds of chaos surrounding Christmas, such as Black Friday. Recently I wrote you my thoughts on that madness. It still amazes me how violent people will get for a new television and it scares me to think what they'd do for something they really need, like food or water.

We also see reports of school campuses banning the word "Christmas", retail employees having their jobs threatened for uttering the word - the controversy has even torn apart a small town in New Jersey who can't agree on whether they should refer to the annual lighting as the lighting of a "Christmas tree" or a "Holiday tree".

Back when Christmas was first banned we were missing one important thing - the Constitution. The same document that protects an individual's rights to say "Merry Christmas" protects an individual's right to say "Happy Holidays".

You see, we have the freedom of choice. Forcing one or banning another is purely unconstitutional and frankly, downright silly.


6 comments:

  1. Surely "holiday" is derived from Holy Day. In which case insisting that a certain day is a Holy day to those of differing religious views is just as bad.

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  2. I, too, agree with you. We don't go on "Christmas" break. We got out on "winter break" and we have a "winter" program (i.e. Christmas songs...) Ridiculous. I'm sick & tired of all this political correctness!

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  3. i remain mindful of a few jewish folks i know and prefer to use happy holidays to encompass everyone. i just wish everyone blessings and won't get uptight about it.

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  4. I agree with you. Say what is right for you! I find Happy Holidays to be more respectful of people, in general.

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  5. This was an interesting read. I do think I need to be respectful of other people's beliefs but I also think they should be respectful of mine. ;)

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