‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘happy holidays,’ or something else?

The Starbucks red cup was not the first to omit “merry Christmas.”

In recent years, people have moved from saying “merry Christmas” to “happy holidays.”

Some people see the change as a way to diminish the true meaning of Christmas.

“I think mostly people don’t get the true meaning of Christmas anymore,” said freshman Jessica Robinson. “People think it’s more about gifts rather than spending time with your family and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Freshman McKayleh Smith said she thinks we should say ‘merry Christmas’ because it is about Christ, but she believes it should be a personal choice.

“It’s what I believe,” she said. “I want to keep it focused on Christ, and I think I should have the right to say ‘merry Christmas.’”

While others see “happy holidays” as taking out Christmas — and its meaning — some students see it as putting all holidays that happen this time of year into one, said freshman T’Sharra Woods.

She said she would rather say “merry Christmas” as opposed to saying “happy holidays.”

Society has seen the transition from “merry Christmas” to “happy holidays,” said Department Chair of Professional and Interdisciplinary Studies Craig Robertson. This is considered more of a secular outlook because it is allegedly taking out the true meaning of Christmas.

“I don’t subscribe to a religious point of view,” he said. “What is taking place here is a return to the original holiday of this time of the year called Saturnalia.”

Saturnalia was a popular Roman holiday honoring Saturnus, the god of seed and sowing, with a festival, according to a uchicago.edu article.

“It was a pagan holiday that was basically co-opted by Christianity as a way of replacing the pagan holiday with some more Christ-centered event, such as the birth of Jesus,” Robertson said.

As long as the true meaning of Christmas is not lost, some Christians have no problem with people saying “happy holidays.”

“Personally, I do identify myself as a Christian, so to me it is important as far as showing love to other people,” said senior Mike Smith. “But at the same time, I’m not going to push my beliefs on somebody else. I don’t get offended if somebody says ‘happy holidays.’”

There are other holidays to celebrate this time of the year, and it would be fair to say merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and so forth, Smith said.

“People have different beliefs,” said graduate student Alex Heatherly. “Not everyone is a Christian, and I don’t feel like I should make everyone say merry Christmas if they follow any other religion. I understand not everyone is going to think the way I do.”

At the end of the day, the meaning of Christmas stays the same regardless of whether people say it or not, Robertson said.

The meaning of Christmas should be what the individual believes it is according to their faith, he said.

“Their faith is internal to be externally evidenced to other people,” he said. “You don’t need a holiday to express externally your faith because it should be done every day.”