On October 17, 2017, at a Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., President Trump, presumably referring to the “secular Left,” remarked that “They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct….We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” as opposed to the greeting of “Happy Holidays.”
From a political standpoint, Trump just meant to appease his evangelical base while concurrently furthering the hysterical narrative of the War on Christmas, a seemingly dastardly plot by members of the secular elite seeking to delegitimize the joyful holiday of millions of Americans.
The false idea of War on Christmas gained significant traction when former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told his viewers in 2012 that liberals were “tying the Christmas situation into secular progressive politics.” Conservative thinker Dennis Prager (who is Jewish) claimed that those seeking to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” are waging a “war on the religious nature of America.”
I personally do not make a considerable effort exclusively to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” yet many loud voices on the Right, such as O’Reilly, Prager, Tomi Lahren, and Sean Hannity, believe that my apathy to their plight will lead to leftists eventually seeking to “remove Christmas as a national holiday,” as Prager claims. This false perception of the War on Christmas highlights a larger issue in this divisive political era, as different sides of the political spectrum have a base instinct to assume the worst and most evil in the intentions of their political adversaries. Just as a hardcore liberal might be inclined to believe that Trump could turn into a leader more in line with Hitler than any previous American president, “Merry Christmas” advocates jump to the conclusion that those who say “Happy Holidays” are brainwashed, politically correct liberals seeking to erase any form of religious heritage in the United States.
According to Pew Research Center, 92 percent of Americans, regardless of religious convictions, celebrate Christmas; 81 percent of non-Christian Americans, including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and non-religious people, also celebrate Christmas. Furthermore, 46 percent of Americans do not care whether or not they are greeted by “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” showing that, for many, Christmas is not merely a religious celebration, but a secular cultural phenomenon. The dichotomy of saying “Happy Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” is therefore a non-issue for many Americans.
Those who vehemently seek to convince all Americans to say “Merry Christmas” to combat the War on Christmas overestimate the intentions of people with secular beliefs. Instead of seeking to make a non-issue to most Americans a divisive topic, we, as an American society, should seek to exude the Christmas spirit and leave politics behind.
Whatever someone chooses to say during the Christmas spirit, it should reflect the values of kindness and giving which we, as Americans and Loyola Cubs, hold dear, conveying the warmth and generosity of the Christmas (or Holiday) season.