As finals draw to a close, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that, whether poorly or well, this semester has finally ended. With the end of the semester comes the beloved Christmas Season. Yes, it is still the Christmas season, despite the attempts to secularize and stamp out the message behind this great holiday. In these times, we are taught to be risk-averse to all other cultures, and avoid anything that may be construed as discriminatory or offensive. This madness has even extended to the familiar greeting “Merry Christmas” the utterance of which is slowly becoming taboo, and is being replaced with the all-encompassing, “Happy Holidays”. Yet, we must all take care that, in our quest to respect others and desire to avoid offense, that we do not lose our own identity, and allow our unique culture and heritage to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.
In order to begin to understand how one could take offense, it is necessary to first explain the holiday itself. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the [Editor’s note: alleged] son of God. According to scripture, Jesus was born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem for the ultimate purpose of sacrificing his life to bring forgiveness to any who would believe. This is as brief as I can make it, and for further background, I would refer you to the Gospels. Until recently, this was non-controversial, and to this day is still believed by a majority of Americans. The contention over the issue, then, is the perception that, by wishing one a Merry Christmas, or attempting to involve them in the celebration thereof, a Christian is guilty of overlooking the belief system of another, and imposing their own religion. However, those who would hold such beliefs are committing the same error they would purport to fight, namely, they are attempting to use their beliefs to silence another’s.
Whether or not a person celebrates Christmas, the season is one of festivity and good will. Why detract from this spirit by stifling another’s expression of their cultural and religious heritage? When someone wishes another a Merry Christmas, it is not an attempt to proselytize or exclude, they simply identify themselves with that tradition. Indeed, it is undeniable that December 25 is Christmas, so what’s wrong if I hope that yours is a happy one, regardless of whether that is the holiday you observe?
As a society, we need to learn to stop looking for offense where none is intended. Celebrating our differences should not entail muffling anyone’s beliefs. On the contrary, encouraging free expression creates a more inclusive environment and thus, one more accepting of diversity. We should not attempt to placate and appease those who do not share our heritage, and would have their personal comfort trump our constitutional liberties. Instead, we should make it clear that such attitudes are incompatible with the values of our free society, and whenever possible we must stand up for our rights by exercising them.