OPINION: ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’

By Monica Barker and Hannah McCrone

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Happy Holidays:

Monica Barker ’19

It’s that time of year again where all we hear is “Merry Christmas” hollered at us wherever we go. Whether it’s leaving a store, a restaurant, the nail salon, the phrase is almost everywhere. But let’s not forget: Who’s to say that everyone celebrates Christmas?

With Christmas being commercialized, it’s on most people’s mind at all times, but what should be on everyone’s mind is that not everyone celebrates the holiday. It’s understandable that during the holiday season most people are in an uplifting spirit, but saying “Happy Holidays” is equally as effective.

Late November to mid- January is a period that’s gotten the title of “holiday season.” There’s of course the classics like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, plus the number of additional festive events.

There should be an understanding that many may take offense to “Merry Christmas.”

“It’s complicated and I never know what to wish someone since everyone is different,” senior Brian Kendall said.

“In this day in age everyone gets offended by things so we should avoid that,” senior Jenna Sperduto said. “Plus there’s a lot of people who don’t celebrate Christmas in this school.”

This season is already full of stress with the food, parties, presents, planning and never ending tasks. Why not reduce the stress and stick with “Happy Holidays” and keep the season happy, or all?

With this generation many people are less concerned with their religious identity. Religion has become something to celebrate holidays and get presents from friends and family.

For most teenagers, whether they hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays, it doesn’t matter. To some, particularly older generations who may be more religiously active, hearing the “wrong” faith’s greeting can be off putting.

It clearly is no one’s intention to be offensive when wishing a Merry Christmas but it is not the right thing to do. Christmas is not the only holiday to exist this time of year. Yes, it’s a friendly gesture but something more simple works just as well.

“My neighbors and my family exchange gifts around the holiday season, we never want to offend one another so we stick with more generic holiday gifts,” senior Jayden Coldon said.

Rule of thumb: to make it easy, stick with “Happy Holidays” or even something more simple like “Season’s Greetings.”

Merry Christmas:

Hannah McCrone ’19

When turkey decorations are put away and the rest of the leftovers are eaten, everyone knows it’s officially Christmas season. Christmas lights are untangled, tree farms open up, and children receive their advent calendars. Every night, ABC plays another Christmas movie for their “25 Days of Christmas” countdown and purchase after purchase is made online, hopefully in time for the big day.

“I love Christmas time,” junior Alex Prince said. “Not just because we get off school either, I like the feeling of it, the spirit I guess.”

As this season begins, we are truly at the most wonderful time of the year. It seems like there’s something in the air inspiring people to feel the holiday spirit. in the form of a very specific greeting or goodbye that is only appropriate for this season. Merry Christmas.

“I wish everyone a Merry Christmas,” senior Dom Magro said. “It’s just the right thing to do, I think.”

There is no argument over the connotation of these two words. No one wishes someone to be merry on Christmas with some hidden meaning behind the phrase. They aren’t trying to be conniving. The issue is not with these words, its with the people offended by them. Being forced to say Happy Holidays, instead of Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah is ridiculous.

“I feel like there’s a stigma that everyone has that they don’t want to hurt someone so they make everyone say Happy Holidays,” senior Danielle Bernstein said.

“I’m Jewish and I don’t think anyone really cares”.

Most teens at West Essex, including the Jewish ones, don’t really seem to care if someone wishes them a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays. To them, it’s still a nice thing to say.

“It doesn’t really offend me and I’m Jewish too. It’s still just a nice way of saying to have a good holiday season,” senior Samantha Bernstein said.

If you think the person you just held the door for is being rude when they smiled and wished you a Merry Christmas then you’re looking for something to be bothered by.

Merry Christmas is a phrase that is specific to the holiday season. Those two words are not something you can say year-round. For me, they’re not just words but reminders of Christmas cookies, family gatherings and fire crackling over the sound of “Jingle Bell Rock.” Saying Happy Holidays is perfectly fine and those who say it should not be punished, but anyone who feels personally affronted by an innocent wish to be merry on Christmas is promoting snowflake culture.