Wednesday, 14 December 2016

'Happy Holidays' - political correctness gone overboard, or inclusive?

It's that time of year again. The shops are full of Christmas decorations, the muzak is Christmas carols, and on FB there are memes are appearing that express irritation (at best) at the use of 'Happy Holidays' as the 'fashionable' greeting, rather than 'Merry Christmas.'

Here in Australia, I suspect that a big part of the aversion to the Happy Holidays greeting is that it has its origins in the USA. There is - and this began long before the presidential election in November - a real anti movement against the encroachment of American cultural mores becoming embedded into Australian culture. For myself, a big part of that is the plethora of American television shows - which I see more of because Dragon Dad loves a lot of them, while I really don't. Odd ones I do, but for the most part, I'd love to see more locally made programs, and definitely more of the quality television we used to have from the BBC which appears to be one of the losses to the incursion of American TV. That's probably the most overt thing, but there are many more, not to mention a sense of unease about some of the political decisions that have been made over time due to the terms of our alliance with the US.

There is also a feeling among many people I talk with that political correctness is swinging to extremes, and there are things that perhaps need to be discussed that aren't even broached anymore for fear that people will be called out for saying the 'wrong' thing. So, there are two things going on, really, and as far as popular culture is concerned, it does seem to come out at the end of the year when the Christmas frenzy starts to go overboard.

For myself, I'm Jewish, so I don't celebrate Christmas. So, for me, being wished Happy Holidays definitely feels inclusive. It means I don't find myself in a position of feeling as if I ought to educate people about Chanukah - which this year, begins the evening of the 24th of December. I don't feel as if I have to insist that, no, it's NOT the 'Jewish Christmas' on the odd occasions when I make the choice to explain and hit someone who doesn't know much about Judaism. I do feel that the person wishing me Happy Holidays has thought about the fact that Christmas isn't the only religious festival that happens around this time of the year. 

People do ask what my family does 'for' Christmas. Well, we don't do anything - see above comment about not celebrating Christmas. But we do get together as a family, depending on who's around and what various family members are up to. This year, Dragon Dad's father is visiting and we'll be having lunch at a restaurant that we like. We've discussed perhaps inviting those friends that are free to come and celebrate lighting the first candle on the chanukiah and eat latkes with us - we haven't got as far as doing anything about that yet. 

So, whatever your particular tradition happens to be, I'll wish you Happy Holidays, and hope that by using a greeting that covers a variety of occasions that it will be received with the goodwill with which it is offered.


  1. I so enjoy your blog today. I can honestly say I like both greetings as well as happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa and all the rest. I think that if folks enjoy or not the holiday season I am good with that.

    My favorite thing however is when people do great things for each other each day of the year and that is the best holiday, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa gift ever.

    1. You're SO right about the every day stuff. I see SO much of people dreading Christmas (specifically) and all the family hassles they experience. Perhaps if there was more attention paid every day to care-taking relationships there might be less stress when the big get togethers happen. Who knows?!

  2. Thanks so much for writing this post. I think it's important to have people who celebrate holidays other than Christmas tell their stories. Maybe there'd be a better understanding of why it's important to say Happy Holidays.

    1. You'd hope so. A school here recently had an end of year celebration and didn't sing a single Christmas carol. Somewhere along the line, mention of this was made on the radio, and our idiot immigration minister who is part of the hard right wing Christian part of the Liberal party (currently in power) made song and dance about how in our 'Christian country', Christmas is being hijacked... Pile of utter twaddle, and singularly inappropriate given the complex multicultural nature of Australia at the current time. BUT, in the comments on a Facebook post about it revealed a lot of people who were in agreement with the MP - most disturbing. Its a similar cultural backlash to that which is happening in the States post the election.
      Life is too short, and too precious - we need to embrace all the differences, and find ways to live together - not all the toxic, divisive crap that's going on. And the Holidays are just a small part of that.