Quit Wishing “Merry Christmas” to Fight Bigotry, Columnist Challenges

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Quit Wishing “Merry Christmas” to Fight Bigotry, Columnist Challenges



Approaching a stranger with a warm greeting of “Merry Christmas” is a declaration of ignorance, and replacing it with “Happy Holidays” would do wonders in aiding the battle against prejudice, explains an opinion writer published in The Star this week.


As a section of a “Big Debate” feature on the legitimacy of the Christmas greeting, the Toronto newspaper printed a piece by Sadie-Rae Werner, a senior economics student at the Minerva Schools at KGI and founder and editor-in-chief of the school’s independent student news outlet The Minerva Quest. Her response is an emphatic “no,” opening with discontent that Starbucks backtracked after its 2015 move to eliminate Christmas-specific imagery from its holiday cups. 


“When 500 Starbucks cups going walking down the street covered in Christmas trees and reindeer they are sending a definite message about the reigning position of Christianity in our purportedly secular society,” Werner declared. “The red cup was a step toward atoning for the overt lack of inclusion of other religions in corporate holiday celebrations.”


Although the elimination of Christmas-specific language and imagery is a cause of controversy each year, few (if any) Christians challenge businesses that recognize the holidays of different faiths.


Werner, however, laments the “open disregard and, at times, disdain” she claims to have experienced upon telling people that she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. People who automatically tell strangers “Merry Christmas” must be presumed as “genuinely ignorant” as opposed to well-meaning, she states, as they fail to recognize how “extremely diverse and multicultural” Canada truly is.


Simply granting that strangers who wish her “Merry Christmas” are well-meaning “means I need to silently accept that my holidays aren’t important; that my faith shouldn’t be openly acknowledged or celebrated.” She doesn’t name her own faith in the particular piece, but in March penned a satirical piece centered around the struggles of assembling a Passover meal in India.


“Global anti-Semitism is on the rise, and while it is more complicated than plain ignorance, and saying ‘Happy Holidays’ is not a definitive solution, it’s a step in the right direction,” Werner challenges. “The hate that starts with Jews never ends there; it goes to Muslims, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of different political affiliations, spreading to everyone who is not exactly the same as you.”


At this point, Werner has had little luck finding sympathy for her position among the Star’s audience. As of the writing of this article, a poll attached to the article revealed that 95 percent of 6,629 respondents are in favor of saying “Merry Christmas,” while only 4.8 percent believe that it’s possibly offensive. 


The Star also published a counterpoint article and a letter from a reader defending “Merry Christmas.” In the first, National Council of Canadian Muslims spokeswoman Amira Elghawaby dismissed the notion of a “War on Christmas” but nevertheless defended “Merry Christmas,” noting that “Multiculturalism is about embracing our diversity, not making it invisible. That includes Christian practice.”


Leo Kleiss, an Ontario native, wrote specifically in reply to Werner’s “tragic” stand.


“She bases her objections on her unfortunate youth during which she had to endure people wishing her that when she is not a Christian,” he penned. “The irony is she also bases her disdain on inclusiveness which is exactly what sharing Christmas spirit is all about.”


Photo courtesy: Pixabay

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