MERRY CHRISTMAS OR HAPPY HOLIDAYS?
Recently, I received an e-mail that secularists have banned Christmas, and “Kwanza, Eid and other cults” have taken over. It complained that “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by “Happy Holidays.” I can’t understand how acknowledging other faiths in a secular country would mean that people of minority religions are against Christmas.
It seems many people misinterpret the word “Secular.” In late-19th century, Mr. Holyoake used the term to describe a “Social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief.” A secular country is not against religion, but neutral to all religions, not giving preferential treatment to one, or discriminating against others.
I grew up in India, a secular country (same as the United States) with majority Hindus, and minority Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jain, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Jews. Our non-Hindu friends used to visit us on Diwali with sweets and fruits for the Hindu New Year, festival of lights. We used to wish our Christian friends “Merry Christmas” and Muslim friends “Eid Mubarak” during their special observances. Although all religious festivals had designated holidays, vacations in schools and colleges in December were called Christmas vacation.
Since Christianity is the majority religion in this country, Christmas celebrations are a part of the American tradition. And we have learned to love it. Some people think that non-Christians celebrate only the commercial side of this season without understanding its significance, but businesses and retailers are responsible for that, not minority religions. During Christmas holidays we cherish searching for the right gift for loved ones, especially children and grandchildren, helping those less fortunate, and staying connected with relatives and friends who are far away. We can learn from the tradition of giving and sharing
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!