By Lauren Kelly, Editor-in-Chief
Every year, the dreaded “Merry Christmas” conversation comes up. When Starbucks came out with their plain red holiday cups last year, the uproar was massive. Hell, even American Dad! had a Christmas episode about it seasons ago. Although it’s a bigger topic in the US, I still see it here: Should corporations and cities use the word Christmas and have Christmas decorations, or use the more secular greeting “Happy Holidays!”?
It’s understandable on both sides. Many of us grew up celebrating Christmas, and with the holiday being a big part of lives. There is so much hub-bub around it, with one-sixth of the year existing as just build-up-to-Christmas.
I’ve grown up an aggressive celebrator-of-Christmas. Our house is always decorated to the nines, and there are multiple celebrations with different groups of family and friends. I love shopping for gifts and sharing time with loved ones. However, this isn’t because I’m Christian; I was raised non-religiously, and continue to be an atheist. I just love the joy of the holiday.
As a non-religious Christmassing person, it’s easy to look at the holiday and see it as fun and inclusive. However, many people in our country choose not to celebrate it or belong to religions that don’t celebrate it. They may celebrate other holidays during the same time period, such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice, or they may celebrate nothing at all. According to the 2011 Canada census, about 45 per cent of British Columbians are some form of Christian, while 44 per cent are non-religious, and 11 per cent are a different religion. Additionally, religion is much less a cornerstone of our communities and lifestyles than it once was.
I’ve seen pictures going around on Facebook with the words “Happy Holidays!” and “Seasons Greetings!” crossed out and replaced by “Merry Christmas!” This is followed up with “Welcome to Canada!,” with the gross implication being that in this country, everyone should be assimilated and celebrate our holidays. With the influx of refugees over the past year, as well as our high immigrant and indigenous population, this kind of sentiment makes me sad. In Vancouver, we are usually known for celebrating our diversity. We have large celebrations for Diwali, Chinese New Year, and other holidays. This is something to be proud of.
Even if we personally celebrate the holiday, we can’t expect corporations, who need to keep up their public image, to be spouting out “Merry Christmas!” when so many of their customers don’t celebrate it. And we shouldn’t get upset about that—I mean, let’s be real, Christmas music is everywhere, and trees and Santas are at malls in every city, proving that the “War on Christmas” is far from a real thing. Anyway, with how commercialized Christmas now is, it’s not a bad thing that fewer companies are pushing it as hard.
So this holiday season, try to be inclusive. Give whatever you can. Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate or just make time with your loved ones. And use the break to relax and take some time to yourself, too. Getting upset over the little stuff will just add negativity to what’s supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year.