From The Editors
Happy Holidays: An explanation!
First, on behalf of all of us at the Reader, we'd like to wish you Happy Holidays!
Furthermore, we don't think that we should have to apologize for or explain that. But it seems that we do. So we will. Explain, that is.
We find ourselves in trying times. The holidays are so stressful! we hear, along with: Don't say 'holidays', you might offend someone! and When you say 'Xmas', you're taking 'Christ' out of Christmas!
First, the term 'Xmas' dates back to the 16th century. Second, the 'X' is being used as a placeholder for the word 'Christ' since that 'X' comes from the Greek letter 'Chi', which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which translates into English as 'Christ', meaning that 'Christ' isn't literally being removed from Christmas.
Second, and perhaps more important, we should ask ourselves: Why are we making the holidays so stressful? And why now, more than other times of the year, are we worried about offending each other?
Perhaps a long hard look at B. Toy's cartoon in this issue might answer that. While words don't quite do it justice, he illustrates a picture of people running, rushing from store to store in quest of sales and deals — all while Saint Nicholas clears room to kneel before the Christ child and his mother in a beautiful moment of serenity and peace that anyone could enjoy and understand.
The slowing of a moment. The attention to detail. The care. The love. The joy. All of the things that should be ever-present.
Rather than taking time to enjoy the company of friends and family, we're more concerned with buying gifts. Don't get us wrong: Buying gifts for loved ones is great, because it is the physical manifestation of inward feelings. But doing so at the expense of spending time with loved ones and jeopardizing our own sanity means we're doing it wrong.
And when it comes to worrying about whether we're offending each other, perhaps the holidays can teach us an important lesson: Tolerance.
Is religion your thing? Great. Is religion not your thing? Great. Is persecuting others your thing? That's the exact opposite of great.
But that's what it's becoming when the words "Happy Holidays" become dirty words and cause for claims of persecution.
Writer Rachel Held Evans posted a flow chart to her blog to help us understand persecution. Again, words don't quite do it justice, but it goes something like this:
"Did someone threaten your life, safety, civil liberties, or right to worship?"
If you answer "yes," you are being persecuted. If you answer "no," you're presented with a follow-up question: "Did someone wish you a happy holidays?" If you answer "no," you're not being persecuted. If you answer "yes," it turns out you're still not being persecuted.
"Happy Holidays" is no more offensive than someone wishing you to have a good day, since in all actuality, it's about as generic of a well-wishing statement one can offer given a specific instance in time.
As journalists, we appreciate the First Amendment for the freedoms it provides us, particularly that of speech and press. But we also appreciate it because it affords us all the chance to practice our beliefs and implores us to grant that same freedom to those whose creeds differ from ours.
So again, we want to wish everyone — regardless of beliefs and non-beliefs — Happy Holidays, not because we intend to offend anyone, but because we want your holidays — whatever you and your loved ones choose to celebrate — to be filled with joy, happiness, and glad tidings — themes universal to us all.