I turned on Facebook yesterday evening, and saw that a friend of mine from back home had updated her status. She doesn't do it very often, so I always check it. She was my best friend, back in the far off world of Junior High. This is what her status was:
"We can't say Merry Christmas anymore, now we have to say Happy Holidays. We can't call it a Christmas Tree, it's now called a Holiday Tree because it might offend someone. If you don't like our Canadian customs and it offends you so much then LEAVE!!. They are called customs and we have our traditions!!"
It goes on asking people to re-post it if they agree. I was struck by the absolute stupidity of this whole thing.
We don't say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas just so we won't offend anyone. We say it because there are so many religions and spiritual paths that celebrate a holiday around the Solstice that it is just easier to say Happy Holidays. We want to include everyone in the joy of celebration, even if they don't celebrate the same thing we do. We want everyone to feel included, because that is a pretty dominant theme of Winter Solstice Holidays. I don't get offended when people tell me Merry Christmas. That's just what most Christians say. I just tell them Happy Yule back, because that's what I say. Although I have to admit, I do love seeing the shocked look on most of their faces. That's the immature teenager in me though, I try to quell that whenever possible.
The second piece, about the Christmas Tree and the Holiday Tree. Is it so hard to change word because more than one culture uses a tree as a symbol of everlasting life in the middle of winter when everything should be dead? No. Again, it's not about the worry of offending everyone. It's about including cultures and religions other than your own. It's about looking beyond yourself, to a culture that maybe you've never experienced, but that does similar things to your own. It's about a feeling of togetherness that people experience around the Solstice, not about words. I don't care if people call it a Christmas Tree, a Yule Tree, or Pōhutukawa tree. It's the symbol that matters, and what we feel about it. For those who are curious, the Pōhutukawa tree is from New Zealand.
As for the rest of it, who ever is a Canadian citizen has a right to define Canadian traditions. Unless, me being a 3rd generation Canadian isn't good enough for you. "Canadian" traditions include Greek, Spanish, Filipino, German, Ukrainian, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh traditions, among others. Who is to say whose is valid and whose is not?
Certainly not some stupidity over Facebook. Although, it was great inspiration.