Over the years, there has been a slow decline in some of the verbal freedoms that we’ve always taken for granted. The best example would be the fact that when I was growing up, saying “Merry Christmas” was the expected greeting you gave people during the holiday season. But in recent times, it’s become almost anathema to some people, bordering on the rude, to wish someone a Merry Christmas.
For the most part, this decline in the use of a time-honoured holiday greeting has been attributed to a difference in background and religious beliefs. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has told me, “I’m not Christian and so I consider it offensive for you to offer me greetings based on a religion I don’t practice…”
I’m paraphrasing, of course. But my question to these people has always been simple and straightforward: why? This trend has reached most branches of society, going as far as retail and business locations forbidding their staff from giving a specific greeting in favour of a generic and dry greeting of “Happy Holidays”.
That’s all well and good, but doesn’t restricting someone from using a greeting based on their own beliefs violate the same freedom the ones complaining about it are trying to maintain? Seems a tad on the hypocritical side…
I was baptized into the Catholic faith when I was a child. I was raised in an environment where my family celebrated Christmas and the birth of Christ (although most scholars have indicated this didn’t ACTUALLY happen on December 25th, but that’s for a different post). But given the changes in my life and faith since then, I consider it a sign of respect for someone to use the greeting associated with their faith.
For example, if someone from the Jewish faith were to say, “Happy Hannukah” I would respond with, “Thank you so much. And Merry Christmas.” In Canada, we have the significant freedom to exercise the faith of our choice; a choice not everyone in the world gets to enjoy. So why butt head’s against each other to try and “have it our way?”
There is room enough in this world for everyone’s faith. One of the beautiful things about faith is that it doesn’t take up any physical room. So why take up room exercising it or restricting others? Let’s take a moment this holiday season to see the beauty in everyone’ faith and appreciate the fact that time has been taken to wish us well. After all, the holidays should be about family, celebration and freedom. Merry Christmas! ☯