Our View | ‘Happy Holidays’ is best choice

“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” is a quote that has been attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux circa 1150 and continues to resonate with people today. Most people have good intentions. People don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how they can make someone’s day miserable. In fact, our bodies feel stress when we talk or act in a way that goes against our values. 

However, often people say things that could offend someone without meaning to do so. One obvious example of this is saying, “Merry Christmas,” to people you don’t know well enough to know if they celebrate Christmas. Many people do not celebrate Christmas, so by assuming that people do, you could be offending the person you are talking with.

In fact, as a culture, the United States is focused heavily on the Christmas holidays. Even though New Years is a week after Christmas, most holiday experiences are focused on the gift giving portion of the season. This is most noticeable in the retail industry where Christmas decorations begin to appear in stores right around Halloween. That means that everyone has two full months out of the year where any shopping experience includes Christmas.

In Cedar Falls, it seems as though the only holiday we celebrate is Christmas, but there is a Jewish temple and Muslim mosque in Waterloo, so our community is not definitively Christian. In the subject of sociology, there is a large emphasis placed on learning about other cultures, religions and values. Lessons from that area of study are very valuable to help people see the world through someone else’s eyes.

It is hard to imagine a world where we might have Ramadan, a Muslim holiday, decorations in our stores and in our greetings for two months, yet that is what we expect from other people who are not Christian. That they will be OK with this constant celebration of something they do not believe in feels wrong, so as the holiday season ramps up, remembering to say “Happy Holidays” might be the better choice in order to include all holidays celebrated.

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