I’d like to take a moment to talk about holidays. ALL holidays. There are nine ‘no work,’ paid holidays on the American calendar: New Year, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day (formerly Washington’s Birthday), Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Among these—Martin Luther King Day—is Federal but not a state holiday in all states. In addition, there are a lot of minor holidays and Religious holidays for which we do not get the day off but we celebrate most of them. These include Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, and Veteran’s Day. Major religious Holidays include Purim, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and Hannukah. We also have two Solstices and Earth Day for those who worship mother nature.
I have no idea who St. Valentine or St. Patrick is. Nevertheless, I celebrate both holidays without having the slightest clue why. I don’t care. A celebration is a celebration. I don’t care that Columbus never actually landed on American soil, but I get the day off and that is a good thing so I celebrate it along with everyone else. I am not a member of a union (anymore) but I nevertheless celebrate Labor Day with a cookout in my yard. I don’t believe in witches or ghosts or goblins, but I love Halloween. It’s a great excuse to make the house scary, dress up like a superhero or a zombie, give and get candy, and go to parties. I’m not Black, but I celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Because I am Jewish, I celebrate two New Years, one in September and one in January. I am not offended because the American calendar is different from the Jewish Calendar. I do not get upset when Hannukah and Christmas overlap nor when Passover and Easter overlap. I certainly don’t get offended when someone wishes me a Happy Easter or a Merry Christmas. They are both National Holidays. If you don’t believe that Easter is a national holiday, just try to get a plumber or an electrician on that day. It will cost you an arm and a leg.
My point is very simple. We have holidays and those holidays all have names. We wish people a Happy New Year even though there are many for whom New Year’s is on a different day than America’s. Why? Because we live in America and our calendar is the official one. We greet people who are not black with Happy Martin Luther King Day; we greet people who do not believe in the god Cupid with a Happy Valentine’s Day, people who are not Irish with a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, people who don’t believe in ghosts and goblins a Happy Halloween. So why can we not greet people at Christmas with a Merry Christmas? It is a national holiday whose name is Christmas. Everyone has the day off. Everyone is free to celebrate however they choose. Everyone is free to ignore it altogether, take the day off and spend it watching ‘Frosty the Snowman’ or ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’ You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus or Santa to enjoy the day. I’ve seen ‘Toy Story’ twenty times, even though I don’t believe that toys can talk. I’ve never seen an alien, but I loved ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’ I may or may not have stopped believing in Santa Claus (my secret), but I love ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Santa Claus is coming to town.’
I assume we do all believe in the idea of Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men, and in family; that we all like to give and receive gifts, we all love a paid holiday, we all love a good sale, so what’s the problem with wishing anyone a Merry Christmas? Get over it already. All this nonsense about not calling a holiday by its name simply because you don’t believe in it is ridiculous. There are Holidays in England like St. Michaelmas and Boxing Day. If I lived in England, I would celebrate them even though I have no idea what they’re about. What difference does it make? I wouldn’t be celebrating St. Michael or Boxing; I would be celebrating an English holiday. Christmas is an American holiday as well as a holiday in many other countries around the world. In Israel, Jews don’t stop saying Happy Hannukah to one another because they’re concerned that Christian Tourists might be offended. Nor do they refrain from wishing their Christian visitors a Merry Christmas because they don’t believe in it. We are being ridiculous and petty when we expect people to celebrate a nameless holiday called ‘Holiday.’ “Happy Holiday” is not a proper greeting. We don’t use that term at any other time of year. We are not going to change the name of Christmas to Holiday. We are not going to allow people to be offended because they get a paid holiday called Christmas off every year. This is America. Christmas is a National Holiday just like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. We all have our own traditions for celebrating those days. People who do not believe in God, Jesus, and Santa can develop their own traditions for celebrating Christmas.
Everything associated with Christmas is positive: The spirit of giving, the desire to be with family, the renewed concern for persons who live on the street and children who are not as fortunate as we, the desire for lasting peace, the random acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteerism—all are part of the spirit of Christmas. Why would anyone find any of those things offensive? It is time we stopped all of this nonsense and start wishing people a Merry Christmas. That is, after all, the NAME of the holiday.