During the month of December, it is nearly impossible to enter a store or public place without hearing the common phrase “happy holidays.” This generic, intentionally inclusive phrase is, in and of itself, unremarkable. But despite its blandness, this phrase has become the center of a cultural and political spat that becomes an issue every year, starting around the time of Thanksgiving. That issue is, of course, the question of whether or not religious symbolism should be permissible in public during the holidays, and it is this issue that has had the annoying affect of galvanizing Christian fundamentalists and supporters of political correctness to face off in a sort of rhetorical cage match. The rhetoric has gotten to the point where both sides have demonized each other to a ridiculous extent Both perceptions are, of course, enormously flawed, not to mention hyperbolic, but somehow they have both managed to gain credence in their respective parts of the media (eg, Fox News and MSNBC). We at the Little Hawk find this immensely disappointing to say the least, and so we propose a middle-of-the-road solution: that all religious displays should be acceptable in public.
If one were to talk to any card carrying member of “Focus on the Family” or any of the other leading Christian institutions, not acknowledging the preeminence of Christmas during the holiday season is tantamount to making ones self a cunning communist conniver, cruelly contemplating the coming cancellation of Christmas. However, contrary to what today’s religious rhetoric would have us believe, Christmas, or any of the other holidays celebrated at the end of the year, were not originally grounded in religious doctrine. There is nothing in the Bible that mandates that Christians celebrate Christmas, nor anything in the Torah about Hanukkah. Instead, it seems that almost from the dawn of time humanity has had some sort of holiday around the time of the winter solstice. We, as humans, seem to have come to the collective conclusion that “hey, its cold and dark outside, and its going to be cold and dark outside for months to come, so why not celebrate?” The religions hold a lot of significance for a great many people, but from a doctrinal standpoint no holiday is special in and of itself. Christmas, for example, can trace its roots back to the “Dies Natalis Sol Invicti,” the main holiday celebrated by the Syrian cult of Sol Invictus, or “the unconquered sun. That is not to take away from any given holiday’s religious significance, it just goes to show that even by the standards of most of the world’s religions, no holiday merits any more or less respect than holidays celebrated by other cultures. The holiday season does not belong to any group in particular, but should instead be shared by all, in the spirit of mutual respect.
Unfortunately, the solution to this diversity problem that today’s “politically correct” society has come up with is to make celebrating religious holidays off limits for everybody. To the media machine that dominates public discourse, saying anything other than “Happy Holidays” makes oneself at risk for being labeled a fascistic fundamentalist, fixated on finishing off free speech with falsehood. While it’s true that holidays don’t have any original religious grounding in and of themselves, it is also true that they still hold a great deal of personal religious significance for the vast majority of people across the globe. However, this religious and personal significance has been disregarded almost entirely within mainstream society. Corporations and the politically correct have decided that it was in their best interest to combine all holidays in to one vast “holiday season,” whose purpose is entirely divorced from any concept of meaning, but instead exists only to bolster profit margins of major outlet store via increased consumer spending. Cultural tolerance is an admirable goal, but the way that we approach political correctness is not tolerant. Instead of trying to pretend as if cultural differences don’t exist, we should instead celebrate those differences. Allowing religious displays, no matter their origin, is one small way in which we can make this happen.
In the end, promoting an open minded society will require that we lose our inhibitions about discussing religions and other belief systems. So, as students we should feel free to wish one another “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hannukah” , or “Eid Mubarak,” without fear of offending our fellow students. We should also recognize the importance of all holidays, even the ones that we ourselves do not celebrate. Because in the end, it is not the holidays themselves that are special. It is the people that celebrate them. So lets celebrate the people. And from all of us here at the Little Hawk staff, happy Feast of the Unconquered Sun.