Happy Holidays v Merry Christmas

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX ACCESS

Happy Holidays v Merry Christmas                                                        

I received an email the other day with 10 pictures of a Christmas Tree.  Alll labeled "Christmas Tree."  The end of the email said it isn't a holiday tree, a winter break tree ... you get the point.  I have had a few people insist on saying Merry Christmas in public gatherings as a push back at political correctness.  I don't want to even touch that bigger topic here, just a few little parts of it.  I usually have had a few Guinness's before I am dumb enough to tackle that one!  No matter what side of the politically correct spectrum you are on, I believe this is the wrong holiday season to fight that battle. 

A short background.  I am an inactive Catholic Priest and a former USAF Chaplain and many of my current beliefs on this topic stem from my time in the Air Force and part of that time was working with the basic trainees at Lackland.  The USAF made us learn to pray in public in a way that didn’t exclude anyone of any religion and it really wasn’t that hard to learn.

Here we go... Our country was founded by people that were trying to escape among other things less noble, oppression and they wanted to create an environment of freedom and openness that was free from the tyranny that they just left.  We have a tendency to think of our founders as good Christians but, read the fine print, many were agnostic, Masonic and many more.  Check the history of the Mason's, they were there with Washington at the setting of the cornerstone of our Capitol.  Not my point either, just fun history.  The point being, our country was founded with the principles that all were created equal with unalienable rights of life, liberty and (this is my favorite) the pursuit of happiness.

These are not Christian or Jewish or Masonic rights, but rights for all.  Where am I going, imagine that you were working hard to bring your Child up in a good Jewish home and all they heard was Merry Christmas and never any comment to any of the rich Jewish celebrations throughout the year.  Imagine that compounded with the history of oppression that the Jews have suffered.  Or, imagine being somewhere that only wished you happy Hanukkah?  An organization like a chamber that you paid as much to join as any of the other people and it was never touted as a “Jewish” organization and a day that you really needed some information you found them closed for Yom Kippur.  Christians are between 70% and 80% of our country so in every group of 10 there are two people with different beliefs.  I have a hard time not being sensitive to that.

Christians are the majority in the USA so our holidays and focus leans that way, that doesn’t mean we need to be insensitive to those around us that have different beliefs.  I feel we are getting too caught up in words and catchy/trendy things and not what the real message is about all the religious holidays at this time of the year. 

I am not sure if it was my USAF training or living for 6 years in other countries, but when I was the Chair of the Chamber, I insisted that we not exclude that 20% or more or our membership.  We are not selling ourselves short, we are showing respect.  And the argument that we should be spreading the Word has a huge flaw, do you listen to those you feel are insensitive?  

Just some of my beliefs that I wanted to share in an effort to maybe get a few people to see this topic from another point of view!

Stephen Kramer put this together from a few different sources and was something that I also wanted to share as it is the best and briefest description of Hanukkah that I have seen in awhile.

The fighting began in Modiin, a village not far from Jerusalem. A Greek officer and soldiers assembled the villagers, asking them to bow to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig. The officer asked Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to take part in the ceremony. He refused, and another villager stepped forward and offered to do it instead. Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked and killed the soldiers. Mattathias' family went into hiding in the nearby mountains, where many other Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks joined them. They attacked the Greek soldiers whenever possible.

About a year after the rebellion started, Mattathias died. Before his death, he put his son Judah Maccabee in charge of the growing army. After three years of fighting, the Jews defeated the Greek army, despite having fewer men and weapons.

Judah Maccabee and his soldiers went to the Temple, and were saddened that many things were missing or broken, including the golden menorah. They cleaned and repaired the Temple, and when they were finished, they decided to have a big dedication ceremony. The Maccabees wanted to light the menorah, looked everywhere for oil, and found a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night, thus commemorating the eight-day miracle.

Although Hanukkah is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish Faith it has gained more prominence in recent times due to the fact that it falls close to Christmas time. This is most likely the reason that it is now traditional to exchange gifts during the Holiday. Traditional foods such as Latkes (potato pancakes) and Soofganiyot (donuts) are eaten during the holiday.

I am not sure if it was my USAF training or living for 6 years in other countries, but when I was the Chair of the Chamber, I insisted that we not exclude that 20% or more or our membership.  We are not selling ourselves short, we are showing respect.  And the argument that we should be spreading the word has a huge flaw, do you listen to the insensitive?

Comments (3)

Cooper Jacobs
Looking For A Seattle Realtor? COOPERJACOBS.COM - Seattle, WA
Real Estate Brokers - Seattle

Happy Holidays Pat and we hope your home is festive. Thank you and all the best in 2013!

Dec 23, 2012 10:49 PM
Pat O'Brien

Thansk Cooper Jacobs Real Estate...One this is for sure...My Christmas should be warmer than yours is.  Still in shorts here.

Dec 23, 2012 11:17 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

My family seems celebrate all different traditions:) When I lived in Ukraine, we did not celebrate much, only the end of an old and beginning a new year;)

Dec 22, 2014 05:52 PM