Monday, December 12, 2005

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Much has been made in the media recently about whether or not there is a "culture war" regarding Christmas and Christianity. On one end of the spectrum, there are those who speak of "tolerance" and "inclusiveness". On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who see the use of terms like "Happy Holidays" as an extreme form of political correctness and an attempt to shove Christianity out of the public arena.

Consider the song "Here Comes Santa Claus". Written by Gene Autry, it contains a Christian message not often heard on the radio, in schools or on television. Until just a few weeks ago, I had never heard the last two stanzas (show in italics below below):

Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer
are pulling on the reins.
Bells are ringing, children singing;
All is merry and bright.
Hang your stockings and say your prayers,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.

Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
He's got a bag that is filled with toys
for the boys and girls again.
Hear those sleigh bells jingle jangle,
What a beautiful sight.
Jump in bed, cover up your head,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight

Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane
He doesn't care if you're rich or poor
He loves you just the same
Santa Clause knows we're all God's Children
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight

Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
He’ll come around when the chimes ring out
That it’s Christmas morn again
Peace on earth will come to all
If we just follow the light
So lets give thanks to the Lord above
That Santa Claus comes tonight!


There can be no question that retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears and Target have changed their advertising in recent years to reflect this trend. There is a Christian holiday called Christmas when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus and then there is an American holiday called Christmas that is about Santa Claus and reindeer and snowmen and getting together with family and friends and having parades. Whether you celebrate the Christian version of Christmas or the American version of Christmas, it is still Christmas to the large majority of Americans.

About the Author
:
Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.

2 comments:

Ethan said...

You're leaving out New Year's Day, which, coupled with Christmas, creates the plural of "happy holidays".

Not to mention that there are other holidays that occur in December. Unimportant to you, perhaps, but not so to the people who observe them.

Carl Starrett said...

When retailers who have used "Merry Christmas" in their holiday advertising for decades switch to the phrase "Happy Holidays", they certainly aren't referring to New Years Day.

Here in San Diego, we used to have a tradition called "Christmas on the Prado". It had that name for decades until some bureaucrat decided that the name should be "December Nights". Do we turn our backs on our nation's heritage for the sake of political correctness? I say no.

Feel free to have a parade or decorations to commemorate what holiday you may celebrate, but don't push Christmas aside. There are millions of people in this country who celebrate Christmas that are not Christians.