Friday, December 4, 2009

holiday?

so i’ve had a skeleton of this post bouncing around in my head for a couple of weeks now. i’m not even really sure what the point of it is, or what my opinion on the matter really is, except that it’s something that’s kind of irritating me.

have you noticed that christmas has been, more or less, completely deleted? listen to your radio. watch the commercials on tv. read the ads in the paper. nothing. it’s like ‘christmas’ has become a dirty word.

now before anyone gets their dander all up, this is not a particularly religiously-inspired post, not that i disagree with the idea that ‘Christ’ should remain the center of ‘Christ’mas.  but that’s not what this is about.

i’m a ‘word person’. i love language. i love the idiosyncrasies that that come with spoken and written language. i love that humans have the ability to string letters and words and sentences together to create something beautiful, or funny, or clever, or ANYTHING! it’s just a wonderful thing. i love that we can trace sayings or pronunciations or roots back to who knows where and stuff like that. in other words, i’m a total nerd. but that’s also beside the point. my point is, that it seems like popular culture (or whoever is in charge of it) has decided that the WORD ‘christmas’ is bad, and should be avoided and replaced with a non-specific, totally generic term like ‘holiday’.

again, i will break into my rambling thoughts to point out that i am aware of the whole PC angle here. i know that not everyone celebrates christmas, and there are other ‘holidays’ which are celebrated this time of year, etc, etc, etc…

however, it’s not like christmas has disappeared, or has been deemed unacceptable, just the word.

the retailers still encourage us to do our ‘holiday shopping’. while gifts are given for hanukkah as well, i’m not convinced that the mass marketing of chia pets, salad shooters and the clapper are aimed at hanukkah shoppers. (btw, have you ever noticed how those things only show up in stores this time of year? i think it’s hilarious and i LOVE the commercials. they’re the same ones they’ve had for the last 20 years!) we’re supposed to buy stocking stuffers too? do people hang stockings for kwanzaa? or new years’? not only that, we keep getting reminded of how many shopping days are left until december 25th. yup, you know. that non-specific holiday that happens to be on december 25th.

santa claus still shows up at all the malls and we’re supposed to dress our kids up and make them stand in long lines to tell him what they’ve been good all year and have their picture taken with him. correct me if i’m wrong, but i’m pretty sure santa is associated with christmas.

we’re supposed to send ‘holiday’ cards. yup. cards that say ‘happy holidays’ but are covered with pictures of christmas trees or nativity scenes or santa claus. hmmmm….

we hang ‘holiday’ lights on our houses, drape them over our bushes, set up elaborate ‘holiday’ displays in our yards. now, i realize that i don’t have a lot of jewish friends, but do people put giant inflatable homer simpsons dressed as santa claus or snowglobes with reindeer in them or in their yards for hanukkah? really?

and for some reason, all of the ‘holiday’ decor, is really christmas decor. no really. go to target. look at that section. it’s all christmas trees and santa claus and elves and holly and stuff like that. have you put up your new years’ tree yet? your winter solstice tree? it is so NOT generic. there’s a separate hanukkah section. and for some reason, it’s specifically called ‘hanukkuh decor’. why is that okay, but ‘christmas’ isn’t?

don’t tell me it’s because christmas is traditionally a religious holiday. if that were the problem, then people who don’t associate themselves with the religious traditions of christmas would just not celebrate it. and christmas has LONG been much more to a good share of the christian and non-christian general public (of the west, at least). easter is definitely a religious holiday, but it’s okay to buy easter baskets and easter eggs and easter decor… and besides, is hanukkuh not a religious holiday too?

i don’t want anyone to think that i’m picking on hanukkah here. that’s not my intention. i’m just using it as an illustration for why i’m wondering why christmas is NOT okay.

i guess i feel like if people are that offended by christmas, then maybe they shouldn’t celebrate it. instead it seems like everyone has to go through this crazy charade of doing everything we’ve always done for christmas, but pretending that it’s just not called christmas!

i know, in the grand scheme of things, this really doesn’t matter. i choose to put up christmas lights on my house. if i send cards, they will be christmas cards. it’s just that the constant barrage of advertising and all things associated with christmas partnered with the blatant absence of the word gets a little irritating.

so, if you celebrate christmas, then i wish you a ‘merry christmas!’ if you don’t then i don’t. i wish you a happy time celebrating whatever it is you celebrate. i just don’t understand why there’s this double standard of not being able to specify that the holiday you’re celebrating is christmas.

i hope no one is offended by this. just me, analyzing things like i usually do and wondering what the fuss is all about. if you’re in the ‘holiday’ camp, i’d love to hear why, so please comment, but be nice. it’s purely sociological curiosity and a bit of language-inspired irritation that arises in me when stuff just doesn’t make sense.

4 comments:

  1. So we, being Brits, have found this all a little overwhelming!
    We were so conscious of being PC and were warned almost that many could take offense to our "Merry Christmas" wishes that I was wary to say the least. I am pleased to see your post and it occurred to me that in the US compared to the UK other religions and traditions are not learnt in schools and this is a great shame. I get the impression that some are fearful of being seen to be forcing ones religion onto others but in the UK we are taught Religious Education from 5 year old to 12 where we can then make our own decisions to carry on the subject throughout the remainder of your school life and beyond. Obviously parents have a choice to withdraw their child from RE if their religious beliefs warrant it and that did happen.
    I personally think it is important to educate our kids about all religions and faiths and cultures so we are aware and appreciative of others and then in turn can make our own judgments as to which paths we wish to follow as we grow up.
    So... Emma and Jonathan went to Church of England schools and followed the Christian faith and went to church on occasions with school and are aware and knowledgeable of other faiths whereas my Rachel doesn't even know what a church is let alone about Hanukkah. I know it is up to me now to teach her but conside ring we live in such a diverse area/world these days, is it not wise to educated our kids over a broad spectrum with regards to others beliefs, faiths and ways of life to encourage mutual respect and acceptance of others. I am confident that there would be a lot less narrow-mindedness if we shared in this way. Just my thoughts!
    On that note I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year =D

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  2. Yes! I heartily agree. At my office, they are touting a Kwanzaa celebration, but we can't even use the word Christmas. By the same token, though, as I wander through the grocery store, I still hear the strains of O Holy Night, Joy to the World and the like piping through the sound system. Secretly, I am thankful that Jesus is still being proclaimed, albeit unconsciously.

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  3. really insightful rachel - i appreciate this. being a word buff myself, and being PC i had never placed the connections on "holidays" being basically code for christmas...... given me good food for thought :)

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  4. I often wonder, as I walk through stores (today it was Costco), what the heck they are singing about (the music being played) when they sing, "ITS THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR". ?? If the store can't have a Christmas sale (like you stated), then why is this the most wonderful time of the year? Don't most people like warmer weather? Wouldn't like the 4th of July be the most wonderful time of the year instead?

    People are SOOO freaking nuts over law suits and offending people that is just ridiculous.

    Good job on this post.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you have a wonderful December thinking about Christ our LORD AND SAVIOR and not just thinking about whats on sale and those yummy peppermint hot chocolates Starbucks sales. --although those are great.

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