The Politics Of “Happy Holidays” And “Merry Christmas”

Shutterstock/Bonnie Taylor Barry

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Christmas is less than a week away. Despite the joyous time, we must recollect the realm of debate surrounded by the idea of phrases like “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” Such a realm of debate brings to question total freedom of expression, toleration of differing ideologies and cultures, and how political correctness still commands the holidays.

A supercharged narrative of emotions comes with the territory when debating this topic. Issues congealed to the topic include how not all Americans are Christians but the federal government recognizes a historically Christian holiday to insufficient diversity in holiday imagery in the public square. However, one of the most trying issues that come to mind includes the fastening of an environment of hypersensitivity to Christmas and “holiday” imagery.

Firstly, we need to consider the fact that Christmas Day has been a federally recognized holiday since June 28, 1870, per a 2014 report from the Congressional Research Service. The legislation that created Christmas Day, and several other days of observance, was to provide federal employees of the time days of rest, in terms of a secular observation of the day. Granted, the legislation passed came during a time where most of the United States population identified as Christian, regardless of denomination. This worldview also came with the representatives to the Congress the population elected, during this time. What differs in the modern day, though, is that the Christmas Day holiday remains recognized in the federal statutes and has become more secular, than anything (considering the high level of commercialism associated with the holiday, of course).

With that knowledge, I have to ask “what is the big deal, here?” The response I would come up with would be centered on the level of political correctness that exists and how it negatively envelopes against a basic federal law and degrades Constitutionally protected freedom of expression and conscience. So, once again, “what is the big deal?”

The basic rights of the First Amendment are at play, here. Not only does a devout follower of orthodox Judaism has the right to celebrate Hanukkah with his or her family but a devout Protestant also has the right to celebrate Christmas, unhindered. This also goes for the opponents of Christmas… they have the right to call for a politically correct alternative to the holiday. Moreover, though, the lost dynamic in this debate is that all the bickering is protected by free speech and a nearly 150-year-old component of the United States Code.

They don’t care about that sentiment, though. Due to this, I must infuse my criticism into the argument of this article to target such “social justice warriors” for oppressing freedom of thought. Here is my message: You have freedom to criticize; but, because of some cockamamie theory that all people will be better off censoring imagery for even the most neutral of holidays is absolute idiocy.

Forget your trigger warnings and your safe spaces because Santa Claus is coming to town and Jesus will be born as federal, state, and local government and private sector employees enjoy their Monday off.

Till then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Chag Urim Sameach!