Happy holidays
Posted: 24 December 2007 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve seen a couple of confident assertions lately that “most Americans” now use this phrase in place of Merry Christmas. Is this really the case? 

Whatever the truth of it is, may I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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Posted: 24 December 2007 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s pretty common.  I don’t have the statistics to say “most.”

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Posted: 24 December 2007 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And Merry Christmas to all from my little corner of the north of England!

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Posted: 24 December 2007 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Certainly not “most,” but probably more than, say, twenty years ago.  Journalists and other scaremongers love to take trends (or supposed trends) and turn them into catastrophes.  FLASH: YANKS NO LONGER SAY “MERRY CHRISTMAS”!!  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS STRIKES AGAIN!!!

At any rate, Merry Christmas to all you wordlovers from Western Massachusetts (where there’s still snow on the ground despite yesterday’s rain)!

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Posted: 24 December 2007 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I haven’t heard ANYONE say “Happy Holidays”.  It’s strictly “Merry Christmas” in my neck of the woods.  Even at Target, who this year, I noticed, have huge banners hanging in the store that say “Merry Christmas”.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα y’all!

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Posted: 24 December 2007 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Here’s the Guardian’s style editor on the same subject today, with a brief mention of a little iconoclast who got into trouble at school for saying “Merry Easter” ...

Hoppy Christmas and a Merry New Beer ...

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Posted: 24 December 2007 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve been saying Mele Kalikimaka since I was born, though my parents found it precocious. So I say it now MELE KALIKIMAKA!

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Posted: 25 December 2007 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yesterday CNN rebroadcast part of the Queen’s TV appearance from 50 years ago and when she said “Happy Christmas” I thought that was a pleasantly interesting variation that was unfamiliar here in the Western US. Then I flipped to a different channel and Rachael Ray, an afternoon talk show host, used the same expression “Happy Christmas”. I’m thinking it may be that ‘I just heard it and now I hear it everywhere effect.’

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Posted: 25 December 2007 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It’s probably true that institutions are more likely nowadays to use “happy holidays” so as not to offend non-Christians and to be inclusive, but in spoken use “merry Christmas” is still the out-and-out favorite. “Happy holidays” seems to be mostly reserved for signs, cards, and the like. Occasionally I will hear a store clerk wish me or someone else “happy holidays,” but even there it’s not that common. Occasionally you will hear a news story about some employee being fired in a fit of PC madness for saying “merry Christmas,” but the story invariably turns out not to be true.

“Happy Christmas” is pretty rare over here. It’s always been around though, at a low level of usage for eons. My guess would be that Rachel Ray’s usage is just one of the rare appearances rather than a trend.

And I’ll join with the others and wish you all a merry Christmas, happy (belated) solstice, merry Squidmas, hoppy holidays, or however you want to celebrate (or not, as the case may be).

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Posted: 25 December 2007 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Then I flipped to a different channel and Rachael Ray, an afternoon talk show host, used the same expression “Happy Christmas”. I’m thinking it may be that ‘I just heard it and now I hear it everywhere effect.’

I wonder whether or not there is a name for this effect?  If not, someone should coin such a word.

Anyway, leading up to the holidays, a local public TV radio host, who is known by those of us who listen to him every afternoon/evening, to be a Reform Jew, got many “Merry Christmas” greetings to which he responded, “And same to you.” Or “Happy Holidays.” (but never in a way to make the well-wisher look like a dolt).

I agree that Happy Christmas is not common.  I went through a Rachael Ray fan stage and am, thankfully, over it.  I feel much better now without all that perkiness.  I’ve returned to my deeply sad self contemplating dark things in the way that they were meant to be contemplated.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I wonder whether or not there is a name for this effect?  If not, someone should coin such a word.

Diegogarcity.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Any discussion of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” in the mainstream media needs to be regarded with skepticism.  A few years ago a subset of the rabid right decided to pretend that there is a “war on Christmas”, with an anti-Christmas faction forcing “Happy Holidays” on an unsuspecting nation.  This is pure fantasy and exists solely for purposes of political demagoguery.

“Happy Holidays” has been around for decades.  I have seen (but cannot prove) that the first US President to use it on greeting cards was Eisenhower.  When this first because a (faux) issue, various conservative organizations had to scramble to remove “Happy Holidays” from their websites and literature. 

The most common origin of this mock outrage is retail stores.  Several chains have at various times encouraged their employees to use “Happy Holidays” as a greeting, for exactly the same reason that Eisenhower used it:  there are various holidays occuring in that time of year, so it makes sense to be non-specific.  The culture warriors make this out to be “political correctness” gone wild, and insist instead on “Merry Christmas”, apparently without realizing that this is merely a different version of political correctness.

The irony is that until a few years ago, the complaint was that retail stores commercialized Christmas.  Slogans such as “Remember the Reason for the Season” were intended to express the thought that crass commercialization is irrelevant to Christmas.  In this context, stores removing “Christmas” is a good thing:  it acknowledges that what the retail establishment is doing is unrelated to the religous holiday.  This modern reinterpretation is just the opposite.  The concern is that the money changers and pigeon salesmen are not sufficiently closely associated with the temple.  feh

So from a linguistic angle, any claim that “Happy Holidays” is displacing “Merry Christmas” is at best a credulous reaction to heightened awareness, and at worst blatant political hackwork.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I wonder whether or not there is a name for this effect?  If not, someone should coin such a word.

Diegogarcity.

I’m pretty sure he was making a little in-joke there.

Any discussion of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” in the mainstream media needs to be regarded with skepticism. ...

So from a linguistic angle, any claim that “Happy Holidays” is displacing “Merry Christmas” is at best a credulous reaction to heightened awareness, and at worst blatant political hackwork.

A useful expansion on what I said in my first comment.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The keywords of the Christmas message (KJV, Luke 2:16) are “On earth peace, goodwill toward men” --- words ecumenical enough for anyone, surely, whatever his creed.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas (I can remember this expression being used by the Christian members of my family, ever since I was a small child) and all the very best for the New Year.

I do have a bone to pick with those who speak contemptuously of “money changers and pigeon salesmen”.  The Temple in Jerusalem was not a church, or a cathedral. It was an enormous, complex structure, covering a considerable part of the area of the city. The central part of it was indeed devoted exclusively to ritual worship; large parts of the surrounding complex, however, were for the provision of mundane auxiliary services: housing for Temple functionaries, guards, and servants (numbered at least in the hundreds); facilities for the storage of provisions and the preparation of food; pens and stables for livestock; maintenance; sanitary services; and a great deal more. The Temple was the world headquarters of the Jewish religion.  Tens of thousand of Jews made pilgrimages to it, from all over the known world, to pay their respects to their God. One of a Jew’s pious duties was to pay the annual tax for Temple upkeep, for which every Jew, wherever he lived, was liable.  jewish law at that time laid down explicitly that the tax was to be paid only in tetradrachms ("shekels") of Tyre, famous for their true weight and for the fineness of their silver.  Another important pious act was the offering of a sacrifice. The changers of money, and the sellers of pigeons, were performing a valuable service to Jewish pilgrims arriving from foreign parts without either Tyrian silver or livestock; they fulfilled a very real and practical function in the activity of the Temple; and there is no reason to impute impiety to them. Quite the contrary.

I do not want to express an opinion, much less get into an argument, regarding the gospel account. I simply want to put the story into a perspective in which some people may not previously have seen it.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 10:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Tens of thousand of Jews made pilgrimages to it, from all over the known world, to pay their respects to their God. One of a Jew’s pious duties was to pay the annual tax for Temple upkeep, for which every Jew, wherever he lived, was liable.  jewish law at that time laid down explicitly that the tax was to be paid only in tetradrachms ("shekels") of Tyre, famous for their true weight and for the fineness of their silver.

The usual turn on this in Christian exegesis is that what the money changers (Mark 11:15 and Matt 21:12) were doing amounted to “daylight robbery” by skimming in the exchange of one kind of money to another.  But there is no real historical evidence of this in this historical period. The moneychangers were, as Lionello notes, just providing an important economic role in the life of the Temple. 

To explain what scholars of my ilk think is really going on here traverses beyond the boundaries of this conversation.

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