Does the downplaying of Christmas strike anyone else as a bit patronizing?

For a while now, I’ve always had a small doubt over the whole “happy holidays” and “minimization of Christmas” thing. The set of actions that your conservative uncle decries as a “War on Christmas”.

I think the downplaying of Christmas, via the use of terms like “Happy Holidays” is certainly well-meaning. I’m not condemning peoples attempts to use them because they think they make people feel better! However, it strikes me as delegitimizing other cultural and religious practices far more than it promotes inclusiveness.

When you talk about the attempts at inclusiveness during the “holiday season”, the “other holidays” people most frequently point out are Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. However, Hanukkah really isn’t that big of a deal, as I’ve been told many times by Jews. It’s not necessarily a tiny minor holiday, but its importance in the US is severely overinflated by its proximity to Christmas.

Kwanzaa, while originally invented as a counterbalance to Christmas, is celebrated by a great number of people as an African American cultural holiday in addition to Christmas. So the dichotomy of “mentioning Christmas and not Kwanzaa makes me feel excluded” doesn’t really apply to many (but not all) of the people celebrating that holiday.

Certainly many cultures have holidays around the Winter Solstice, but that’s true of a lot of times during the year. Harvest holidays, Summer Solstice, Spring festivals. Not to mention the remembrances of revolutions and wars failed and successful. Some cultures don’t have New Years the same time as us. Hell, (a lot of) the Islamic world has a lunar calendar so their holidays rotate with respect to ours.

Given all this, the whole framing of December as “THE HOLIDAYS” strikes me as a tad patronizing and culturally imperialistic. Like we’re all trying really hard to pretend we’re respecting other cultures and religions by “including” them, but we only do so by assuming every other culture has their Super Important Holiday™ right next to ours.

Like I said, I admire the intent to be inclusive, and I’m not advocating we suddenly go back to pure “Merry Christmas” talk and become a 24/7 evangelical church for 2 months. I’m just saying that it feels kind of like the Christmas celebrating majority is just patting everyone else on the head, humoring them, and saying, “No, your stuff is important too, sweetie!” And the more we try to keep up the facade that it’s not “Christmas season” in the US, and no you guys we totally care about your culture’s holidays, the more suspect it gets.

I don’t have a problem with it. ‘Holiday season’ means ‘Christmas and New Year’ to me. I use both interchangeably or the names of the specific holidays individually if that’s wht I mean.

I don’t feel like I have been coerced to do anything in particular in this regard.

Any attempt at not offending other people can be seen as patronizing by that logic. It’s just a compromise because some people get offended by Christmas in a way they don’t seem to get offended by other holidays (for understandable reasons). We could rename the secular holiday, but no one wants to do that, either.

If there were anyone out there that actually seemed offended by the statement, we could talk about doing something else. But, as is, it’s a big holiday for the majority of the people in the U.S., and people want a way to talk about it without offending those other people who feel left out.

The problem is that I can remember back when riled-up Christians were complaining about the opposite side of the issue. They were running around saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” and complaining about how society was appropriating their religious holiday. They wanted Christmas to refer to the religious holiday and not the secular traditions that had grown up around it.

And now they’re complaining that people aren’t saying Christmas enough. It just shows that people who want to be offended will find something to be offended about.

I’ve never been bothered by “holidays” and I don’t understand why it seems to get under so many people’s skin. I’ve always been fortunate to have that whole week off for Christmas/New Years. So “holidays” connotes all that blissful, lay-about time to me. Not just Dec 25th. When someone like a coworker tells me “happy holidays!”, I don’t imagine they want me to be happy just on Dec 25th. They are wishing me well for all those days that I will not see them.

Personally, I don’t see the benefit in presuming people celebrate the same things I do. Even self-professed Christians don’t always celebrate Christmas. There’s a considerable number of Hindus who work in my building, and they try real hard to participate in employee association events and the like. It would be a real slap in the face for everyone to play up Christmas in front of them and then expect them not to be the least bit bothered by it. Which is why we don’t hold a Christmas Luncheon, but a Holiday Luncheon.

  1. People have been saying “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” for as long people have been sending out Christmas cards - ie, well over a century. Get the hell over it.

  2. “The Holidays” refers to everything between Thanksgiving and New Year’s - two major holidays you neglected to mention, presumably because it blows up your argument. Lame.

  3. Downplaying Hannukah & Kwanzaa in order to whine about what you perceive as the downplaying of Christmas is just dumb.

“Downplaying of christmas” you must be joking.

It is bloody mid November. We’re discussing if we are Christmassy enough.
'nuff said

No doubt, but it’s the reasoning some people use for saying it I have a problem with.

People in the US celebrate New Years as a major holiday? I know there’s that thing in New York where the ball drops or whatever, I think I saw it on TV when I was like 6, but I’ve never personally seen anybody do anything for it other than say “oh, hey, I guess the year changed a few minutes ago.”

Thanksgiving you have a point, but people don’t really start saying “Happy Holidays” until around December 1stish, do they?

Either way, it doesn’t change my point except it replaces “Christmas” with “Western winter holidays in general.” It changes some specific arguments like “Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays”, which I shouldn’t use anymore. Especially since I don’t want people saying “Merry Christmas” either.

Honestly, it doesn’t even really matter what the relative importance of those holidays is. It’s not that I care about the downplaying of Christmas so much as the fact that people are desperately trying to be inclusive but they still force people into this box of getting excited because it’s “around when important Western holidays happen”.

Basically, I would much prefer if the season was dismantled, because it doesn’t matter if the holidays are secular, religious, or otherwise. We still expect the people around us who don’t share our values to be excited or otherwise interested that it’s a particular period of time they may or may not care about.

The same problem happens to a lesser degree at Halloween and Valentine’s day. It always just feels icky to me when stores redecorate with hearts, or Christmas stuff, or Jack ‘o’ lanterns because it forces people who may not be interested in that holiday to interact with it in a way they may not be comfortable with. That’s part of why I focused on the “happy holidays” issue – it strikes me as a way to pretend you’re not imposing your culture on someone while still exerting a degree of cultural dominance over them and subtly reminding them that your holidays are what matters. If it was clear that “happy holidays” only meant western holidays, it would still be bad, it’s the justification/lie that “no, really, it totally includes whatever you celebrate too” that gets me.

And yes, I realize this problem is going to exist just with different cultural and religious holidays regardless of whether I go to Iran, Japan, or wherever else. I think it’s wrong there as well.

You do know the word holiday, comes from the words ‘Holy days’, right?

One has to wonder if those who acting offended by the ‘downplaying’ of Christmas do. So what part of Holy Days is offending them, do you figure?

Downplaying of Christmas? It is to laugh! Christmas has begun before you’ve even had Thanksgiving! It now starts right after Halloween! We should be more worried that it will swallow half the year if we’re not careful!

How is it lost on these people that their favorite Christmas story, the one they never stop telling, is about middle Eastern persons looking for refuge and being often turned away? How does the irony not burn?

They surely cannot imagine we’re going to take any of them seriously, and their deep Christian faith, while they are busy lining up to refuse help to homeless persons fleeing war with their children!

Can’t you just hear them arguing, ‘That may be some Christians, but not us!’, and ’ You ought not hold us responsible for a position the governor of our state takes!’, because that would be unfair! Perhaps we should blame them for NOT speaking out against their own Christian brethren who are rejecting help for those in desperate need? (They just seem so spectacularly irony impaired, you have to wonder what colour the sky is in their world!)

At the very same time they are doing just that to persons fleeing for their lives. Their callous attitudes toward these wretched refugees demonstrates who they really are, for all their feigned piety, I think.

We needn’t downplay anything, these people are doing a better job of defaming their faith than anyone else possibly could, in my opinion. They are turning themselves into a joke and doing a better job than any outside force possibly could!

When I got divorced, it happened to be right at the end of January and there were hearts and sappy shit everywhere. And it hurt, it did, hearing stupid love songs, and stupid diamond ads, and even the stupid M&M’s were finding Tru Wuv. It hurt.

But I couldn’t expect the rest of the world to stop just because I was hurting. That would be irrational, and while I’m doing my best to be logical, I should admit that I believe in Love, and I’m happy that other people feel loved. I want everyone to feel loved, even if I don’t and that’s, yes, ok, also kind of irrational.

That meant the onus was on me to flip my brain to another channel when the diamond ads come on. The rest of the world wasn’t doing anything wrong, being happy and excited and in love. It would be irrational to wish them to be any other way.

This is a personal problem, is what I’m saying.

“Happy Holidays” isn’t exactly some new liberal way of weaseling out of saying “Merry Christmas”. The phrase has been used since the 1860s, and it’s been used as encompassing the Christmas and New Years holiday period since the 1930s (according to my search via Google N-Gram)."happy+holidays"&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CFoQ6AEwCTgUahUKEwjArYK8yZzJAhWKMyYKHYMeCZA#v=onepage&q="happy%20holidays"&f=false
Yes, Jragon, there is a major US holiday at New Years. There has been for quite a long time, and it’s expanded in the past couple of decades with “First night” celebrations. I always assumed that “Happy Holidays” meant “Christmas and New Years”. It may have been the original intent, but I suspect store owners noticed that it was non-denominational, and could encompass Hannukah as well, and Kwanzaa, too, when that got started. No need to read political meaning into it. In fact, insisting on narrowing it down to only Christmas seems a more political move, taking something that was originally a generality and focusing it on one group alone.

We sure do. I already have my reservations for both the party and the nearby hotel room. A few years ago I waited too long and our first choice was sold out.

How much of this is attributable to marketing? The end of the year is when a huge number of retailers make or break their year. They’ll market their wares in any way that will move them - which generally involves balancing appealing to as many folk as possible while offending as few. If I’m peddling toasters, teddy bears, or TV shows, I’ll slap a cross, a menorah, or a reindeer on them if it means increased profits.

And this old pagan finds it just so laughable for any christian to complain about their Christmas season being co-opted. Pick some date for your fable when shepherds would actually have been out in the fields, rather than seizing upon Saturnalia in your own attempt to market your new religion to pagans.

Keep Saturn in Saturnalia!

Most stores have an aisle or area dedicated to Seasonal Items; they have to put something there rather than leave it empty. Thus, High Summer morphs into Back To School, then Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas in turn. If that stuff bothers you, don’t go down that aisle.

I’ll second Merneith:

And the War With Christmas ™ folks are the theological descendants of the blue-nosed Puritans who outlawed Christmas celebrations in England & New England. Too Pagan & Popish!

You know, I’ve never seen or even heard of anyone actually getting offended by someone saying “Merry Christmas” to them. That seems to happen mostly in the imaginations of those who are offended by someone giving a greeting other than “Merry Christmas”.

I think you have to add another holiday this year, judging by how much stuff I see for sale about it. It’s positively everywhere, second only to Christmas themed displays.

December 18th! The new holy day.

Uhh, have you ever met anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa?I haven’t. Every African-American home I’ve been in around “The Holidays” has a Christmas tree, candles, and colored lights. Some women wear dashikis, but that has nothing to do with Kwanzaa, they wear them at any festive occasion throughout the year.

The cites I’ve seen from independent scholars (not a part of the Kwanzaa movement) say that maybe it is celebrated by a half million people. Kwanzaa is largely seen as somewhat of a joke, including by African-Americans.

I can assure you that Target, Walmart and every other retailer in the country feels exactly as much genuine appreciation of every single winter holiday celebrated by people in the US as they do about Christmas.

Which is none at all. They exist to make money. They don’t give a genuine shit about Christmas, either. Christmas marketing is patronizing and culturally imperialistic.

The only reason they mention any holiday at all is to sell you things for it. If we all lived in China, they’d be selling us Dōngzhì Festival decorations.
(Problem with all you cynical kids today is you’re just not cynical enough, man…)

What. No one mentioned Festivus?


You guys are obviously part of the War on Festivus. I know what grievance I plan on airing, come 23 December.