Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings!

What do you do when a store clerk refuses to say, or simply doesn’t say, “Merry Christmas,” while you’re doing your pre-Christmas shopping? I suggest doing what any normal Christian would do. I’ve been told I’m not normal, so what follows may eventually lead to some abnormal ideas about what to do. Not saying or suggesting you should act on any such ideas that may come to you after reading this, but at least what follows may lead to some interesting ideas.

There has been a couple of campaigns that have been growing insistently insistent over the last number of years. These campaigns begin after Halloween (the All Saints’ Eve of Western Christianity) and really intensify after Thanksgiving (in Greek Εὐχαριστία, from which we get the word ‘Eucharist,’ referring to the Body and Blood of Christ) in the United States. Both of these campaigns end on, or very soon after, December 25th. The one campaign insists that nobody should say, “Merry Christmas,” so that persons holding religious beliefs other than Christianity are not offended. The other campaign says that everyone should say “Merry Christmas,” particularly store clerks while everyone is shopping in preparation for Christmas. Some even go so far as to suggest that everyone should refuse to buy anything from any store where the clerks don’t say, “Merry Christmas,” during the pre-Christmas shopping season.

The latter campaign is very interesting. The suggestion is that the following alternatives for “Merry Christmas” are completely unacceptable:
  • “Merry (or Happy) Χ-mas!”
  • “Happy Holidays!”
  • “Season’s Greetings!”

It is very odd that some find such greetings offensive while insisting that “Merry Christmas” should be the only acceptable greeting throughout December, and possibly even throughout November. It seems that the persons behind this campaign are rather ignorant of a number of things.

Referring to “Christmas” as “Χ-mas” is perfectly legitimate as that first letter is the Greek letter Chi at the beginning and not the English letter Ex. ‘Χ’ (Chi) is a common abbreviation among Eastern Christians for Χριστός (Christos), from which we get the word Christ. Of course, mixing Greek with Latin is considered as an unlearned thing to do by some, but the same has been done in coining other words, such as homosexual. The Latin ending in “Χ-mas” comes from the word missa, from which was get the English word Mass, the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Liturgy.

“Happy Holidays” shouldn’t be a problem either if one asks what Holy Days are being referred to. As mentioned above, these campaigns begin just after Halloween, so they begin on the Western Christian Holy Day of All Saints Day. Eastern Christians have a couple of important Holy Days during this time as well: the Presentation of the Theotokos on November 21st, and the feast of Our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, Wonder-worker, commonly know in the west as Santa Claus, on December 6th. Western Christians also have these two Holy Days, but they don’t put as much emphasis on them. Of course, after these campaigns wind down or even come to a stop, a number of important Holy Days are commemorated: The Nativity, according to the Flesh of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ (a.k.a Christmas) on December 25th; the Circumcision in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ on January 1st, which Western Christians on the reformed calendar refer to as the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother Of God; and, the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on January 6th, which is also referred to as Epiphany, particularly by Western Christians. Unfortunately, everyone stops saying, “Happy Holidays,” during the season that these last few Holy Days take place.

The season these last few Holy Days take place in is the Christmas Season. The Christmas Season begins on December 25th, and the Octave of Christmas is January 1st, which is the second of the above mentioned last few Holy Days. The day after the Twelve Days of Christmas is the Holy Day of Theophany, or Epiphany. Theophany is the culmination of Christmas and its season continues until January 14th. Some even like to include the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple (also called the Presentation) on February 2nd as part of the Christmas season as originally all of these important Holy Days, from December 25th to February 2nd were celebrated as one Holy Day on January 6th. The leavetaking of the Presentation  is February 9th, so the Christmas Season can go a very long time unless it is shortened by the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, which starts the  pre-Lenten weeks leading to Great Lent. Throughout this season of Holy Days, it seems rather appropriate to say, “Season’s Greetings,” in addition to, “Merry Christmas.” Obviously, it is not appropriate to say either during the pre-Lenten weeks or during Great Lent.

This campaign doesn’t seem to make any big deal about nobody saying “Merry Christmas” during the appropriate season to say such greetings. Strangely, they insist everyone say, “Merry Christmas,” during the penitential season before the Christmas Season; that is, the Nativity Fast, commonly know as St. Philip’s Fast because it begins the day after his feast on November 14th. While Eastern Christians have this 40 day lenten season to prepare for Christmas, Western Christians have the shorter lenten season of Advent, which commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. While the western greeting of “Merry Christmas” is quite common during this season before Christmas, Eastern Christians never use the eastern Christmas greeting, “Christ is born!” “Glorify Him!” until the Holy Day of Christmas and throughout the Christmas Season. This does get a little confusing as some are on the Gregorian calendar and some are on the Julian calendar, so their December 25th is everyone else’s January 7th.

So if you really don’t want to offend anyone’s religious sensitivities, you really shouldn’t say, “Merry Christmas,” until December 25th. However, you must be careful that you know what calendar the person you’re greeting is using as there are 13 days were some Christians are in the Christmas Season, and other Christians are still fasting in preparation for Christmas.

Of course, no Christians are truly offended if you use a Christmas greeting before it’s actually Christmas, even though it doesn’t really make any sense. Likewise, the only persons of other religions who are offended by saying, “Merry Christmas,” are persons who are very anti-Christian. While I’ve heard of a few extremists in some religions who are anti-Christian, the only one’s I’ve actually encountered are self-identified atheists or so-called “non-religious” persons. I’ve had a number of persons of other religious beliefs wishing me a Merry Christmas, even Muslims. I once had a young Jewish woman tell me that the whole campaign to say, “Happy Hanukkah,” is just a campaign against Christmas by anti-Christians, particularly since it’s not nearly as important as Passover, which Christians celebrate as Easter, or Pascha (which is just Greek for Passover). Not only have I had a number of Sikhs wish me a Merry Christmas, a Sikh friend from school once gave me a Christmas present. Obviously, any religious person of good-will doesn’t have any problem with anybody saying, “Merry Christmas,” and is not offended by such greetings.

As the last sentence in the above paragraph implies, it is religious persons of ill-will who are offended by the greeting “Merry Christmas.” Again, these are primarily self-identified atheists or so-called “non-religious” persons. This is completely understandable because these religious movements developed primarily out of a negative response to so-called “Christian” cultures who don’t really live the teachings of Christ. In truth, self-identified atheists are not really atheists, such as the Āstika and Tirthankaras schools in Hinduism, but actually anti-theists. Specifically, they are against (i.e. ‘anti’) the theists who believe Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, so they are anti-Christians. When one realizes this, it makes sense why such persons would start a campaign against saying, “Merry Christmas.” Since they don’t want to appear offensive, they hide their true motives by saying their campaigns is out of respect for other religions. However, if these persons of other religious beliefs are of good-will, they would be offended by suggesting that they are opposed to others, in this case Christians, practicing their religion.

Now one has to ask: why are these persons who follow the religious belief of anti-Christianity so offended by Christians and the Holy Day of Christmas? There are  a number of legitimate reasons, but I think the example of the persons behind the campaign insisting everyone say, “Merry Christmas,” during the lenten season preparing for Christmas, which is actually inappropriate because it isn’t Christmas yet, makes it rather clear.

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